Canadian Citizenship
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    Canadian citizenship is obtained automatically by being born in Canada, or by descent where a parent is a first-generation Canadian citizen. In the case of permanent residents, citizenship may be applied for after living in Canada for a specified residency period.

    Canadian citizenship carries certain privileges that are not enjoyed by permanent residents, such as the right to vote in elections, and the ability to obtain a Canadian passport.

    Citizenship Applications

    Permanent residents of Canada may apply for Canadian citizenship after residing in Canada for a minimum legally-specified period of time. This manner of obtaining citizenship is referred to as “naturalization”. The children of naturalized Canadian citizens will also automatically obtain citizenship even if they are born abroad.

    Canada allows dual citizenship, so those permanent residents who obtain Canadian citizenship can also keep their original citizenship, provided that the laws of the other country also allow dual citizenship.

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    Applying for Citizenship – the Residency Requirement

    Permanent residents of Canada who wish to apply for Canadian citizenship must first meet a residency requirement. The Citizenship Act requires that a permanent resident be physically present in Canada for at least three years in the five-year period before they apply. Time spent in Canada as a legal temporary resident prior to obtaining permanent residence will be counted as half time up to a maximum of 365 days within the five-year period. Also, the permanent resident must have filed an income tax return in Canada for at least three years within the five-year period, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act.

    Knowledge of Canada Test

    Those who have filed a citizenship application will be required to attend and pass a knowledge of Canada test. A permanent resident applying for citizenship who is under the age of 55 or over the age of 17 must show an adequate knowledge of Canada.

    The knowledge test is based on the information in a government booklet called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. This booklet will be provided to each citizenship applicant in advance of the test. It contains brief introductory information about the history of Canada and its social and political structure, etc. The test will be administered in writing and has 20 multiple-choice questions. The pass mark is 15 correct answers. If the applicant fails the test, he or she will be given an opportunity to re-write it. If the applicant fails again, they will be given an interview with a citizenship officer who will conduct the test once more orally.

    Residency Questionnaires

    In some cases the citizenship authorities may not be satisfied that the applicant has met the residency requirement to qualify for citizenship. In such instances they will issue a Residency Questionnaire to the applicant requiring them to provide additional information and documentation to establish that they have been in Canada for the required period. The documentary requirements of a Residency Questionnaire can be quite daunting and onerous, and it is to be expected that the processing of the Questionnaire will result in a significant delay in the processing of the citizenship application.

    Interviews with Citizenship Judges

    In instances where a Residency Questionnaire has been issued but after considering the additional information the citizenship authorities are still uncertain as to whether the applicant is meeting the residency requirement, they will then convoke the applicant for an interview with a Citizenship Judge.

    The Judge will interview the applicant about any concerns related to his or her absences from Canada and the documentation used as evidence, and based on this will make a final decision as to whether citizenship should be granted.

    Citizenship Applications on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds

    The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has the discretion to grant citizenship to alleviate cases of special and unusual hardship, or to reward services of exceptional value to Canada. Statelessness has been added as a stand-alone ground that can be a basis for a discretionary grant of citizenship.

    The revised Act also requires that the citizenship authorities take into consideration reasonable measures to accommodate a person who is disabled.

    These provisions can be invoked in situations where a citizenship application is unable to meet all of the requirements for citizenship due to special circumstances where it would result in a hardship to the applicant if citizenship is not granted, or where an applicant is stateless or disabled.

    Citizenship Ceremony

    Those who have satisfied the citizenship authorities that they meet the residency requirement and have passed the language and knowledge tests will be scheduled for a citizenship ceremony where they will be granted Canadian citizenship.

    As part of the ceremony the applicant will be required to swear an oath of loyalty to Canada. The new citizen will then be given a card proving their citizenship status. This card can then be used to apply for a Canadian passport.

    Citizenship Appeals

    Persons whose citizenship applications were rejected have the option of appealing the decision to the Federal Court within 30 days. The appeal proceeds as an Application for Leave and Judicial Review. As such it is not a full appeal in that no new evidence can be provided nor is there any testimony from witnesses. The court will review the citizenship official’s decision in light of the evidence on file and will decide if the decision was made legally, i.e., was it reasonable, fair, within jurisdiction, and otherwise in accordance with the law. If the court finds that the decision was made illegally, then it will send the case back to the citizenship authorities with an order for them to re-decide it in accordance with the law.
    The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery, Barrister and Solicitor, has years of experience assisting clients with all types of citizenship matters. If you need help with your citizenship case, please contact us for further information.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    There are several circumstances where your application may be considered a non-routine application. They include:
    • If you request to change your personal information such as your name, sex or gender identifier or date of birth
    • If you missed a test, interview, or hearing
    • If you are requested to submit additional documents such as fingerprints or residence documents
    • If you are requested to attend another interview or a hearing after attending an interview
    • If you failed a test
    • If you failed to meet the language requirements during your interview
    Note that if your application is non-routine this may result in substantial delays in processing.

    Yes, applications for citizenship services can be processed urgently in some situations. Here is a list of urgent situations:

    • If you need Canadian citizenship to apply for a job

    • If you need Canadian citizenship to prevent losing a job

    • If you need to attend a Canadian school, college, or university

    • If you need to travel for reasons like death or serious illness in the family and you can’t get a passport in your current nationality

    • If you have received a Federal Court decision on an appeal after previously applying for citizenship

    While urgent processing can be requested in these and similar circumstances, it is up to the discretion of the citizenship authorities as to whether they will entertain the request.

    When applying for citizenship, you may hire someone such as a citizenship application lawyer to represent you. However, this person must be authorized by the immigration authorities to do so. Authorized representatives include immigration lawyers, articling students, certain paralegals, and immigration consultants who are members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.

    Adults (18 years and above) are required to pay a processing fee of $530 and a right of citizenship fee of $100. For stateless adults who are born to a Canadian parent a right of citizenship fee of $100 will apply. Minors pay a processing fee of $100.

    There are also additional citizenship fees and services such as:

    • Citizenship certificate (to show proof of citizenship) – $75

    • Resume your citizenship -$530 (for 18 years and above) or $100 (for under 18)

    • Renounce your citizenship -$100

    • Right of citizenship – $100

    Canadian law permits citizens of other countries to become Canadian citizens. This means that you can be both a Canadian citizen and still retain your home country’s citizenship. However, there are countries that do not allow dual citizenship which is why you need to find out from the consulate or embassy of your home country if dual citizenship will apply to you.
    You can choose to submit a new application for Canadian citizenship if you’ve been denied the first time. This means you will still need to spend money in terms of new application fees. You can reapply immediately since there is no waiting period required. Just ensure you meet the minimum criteria for Canadian citizenship before submitting your application. The other option is to seek a judicial review at the Federal Court of Canada. This needs to be done within 30 days from the date you received the refusal letter so get in touch with a Canadian citizenship lawyer Toronto immediately if you wish to pursue this option.