Are you a permanent resident who wants to become a Canadian Citizen?
At BELLISSIMO LAW GROUP PC, our team of citizenship experts can help you determine if you are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship, assist you with your citizenship application and advise you of the best measures you should take to obtain Canadian citizenship.
A person can acquire Canadian Citizenship in a number of ways. In general, anyone who is born in Canada is automatically a Canadian citizen. In certain situations, a person who was not born in Canada can apply for a certificate of citizenship showing that he or she derived citizenship at birth from a Canadian citizen living abroad.
Amendments to the Canadian Citizenship Act
The Canadian Citizenship Act was amended on 17 April 2009 to grant Canadian citizenship to certain people who had lost it as well as to others who have been recognized as citizens for the first time.
Citizenship was restored to people who became citizens when the first citizenship act took effect on 1 January 1947 as well as to people born in Canada or who became citizens on or after 1 January 1947 and then lost their citizenship, and those born outside Canada on or after 1 January 1947 in the first generation to a Canadian citizen. Under the new law some people, including those who meet these requirements, can be granted citizenship for the first time.
Children born to Canadian parents in the first generation outside Canada can only be Canadian citizens at birth if one parent was born in Canada or one parent became a citizen by immigrating and was later granted citizenship (naturalization).
General Requirements and Exceptions
As a general rule, individuals who are applying for Canadian citizenship must be: 1) 18 years of age; 2) be a permanent resident of Canada; 3) meet residency obligations (reside in Canada for 1095 within last 1460 days – three out of four years). However, if the applicant is a child is under the age of 18, the following circumstances must be met: 1) the child must be a permanent resident; 2) does not have to have lived in Canada for three years; 3) the child’s parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian, and one of the parents is already a Canadian citizen or is in the process of applying to become a citizen. This applies for adoptive parents also.
In addition, the applicant must meet two other requirements: 1) language requirement (be able to understand and speak basic English or French); and 2) knowledge about Canada requirement (Canada’s history, geography, government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship). A language test is required to be provided with an application and a test is to be taken to proof knowledge about Canada. Persons 55 years of age and over are exempt from these two requirements.
In addition, the permanent residence status in Canada must not be in doubt at any time, meaning that you must not be involved in an immigration investigation, immigration inquiry or a removal order.
Applicants residing in Canada prior to becoming permanent residents can receive credit for one half day, to a maximum of one year, for each day of residing in Canada.
There are prohibitions on an individual applying for Canadian citizenship if a criminal history is present. An individual with a criminal history cannot become a Canadian citizen in the following circumstances: in the three years prior to applying, one has been convicted of a criminal offence under the Citizenship Act, is presently accused of a criminal offence under the Citizenship Act; is currently, or has been in the last 4 years, in prison, parole, or probation; has been asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada (under removal order); is being investigated for, accused of, or convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity;, and has had his Canadian citizenship removed in the past five years.
The federal government is working on reforming the Citizenship Act (Bill C-24). The changes will require that citizenship applicants to be present in Canada for four years out of six (rather than three years out of four), and will raise the age of exemption from language and citizenship tests to 65, from 55.
For the latest immigration court decisions on Citizenship cases, please click here.