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How To Obtain Canadian Citizenship

Canadian citizenship is generally obtained by birth, as almost anyone who is born in Canada is automatically considered to be a citizen.  Citizenship can also be obtained by descent to those born to Canadian parents outside of Canada, provided that they are the first generation born outside Canada. Permanent residents of Canada can also obtain citizenship by fulfilling a residency requirement of living in Canada for at least three out of five years. Once obtained, Canadian citizenship cannot be lost unless it was obtained by fraud. Canadian citizens enjoy the right to enter and leave Canada, to vote in elections, and to carry a Canadian passport, among other benefits.

Canadian Citizenship by Naturalization

Citizenship by Naturalization

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 outside of Canada.

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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Canadian Citizenship by Descent

Citizenship by Descent

Canadian citizenship is obtained automatically by being born in Canada. Citizenship can also be obtained by descent for those born outside of Canada where a parent is a first-generation Canadian citizen.

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.

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See if you qualify for Canadian Citizenship

Fill out our FREE Citizenship Assessment form to see if you are qualified to apply for Canadian Citizenship

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Citizenship By Naturalization

(Requirements To Be A Canadian Citizen)

Canadian Citizenship Application Requirements

Permanent residents of Canada who wish to apply for Canadian citizenship must first meet a residency requirement.

Live in Canada

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.

File Your Taxes

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.

English or French Language Test

Permanent residents between the ages of 18 and 54 must also show that they have an adequate understanding of either the English or French language, which are the official languages of Canada.

Proof of language ability is provided through the inclusion of a language test score in the citizenship application. The tests accepted by the citizenship authorities are the IELTS and CELPIP for the English language, and the TEF for the French language. The scores must show language ability at or above benchmark 4 of the Canadian Language Benchmarks for speaking and listening. Alternatively, the applicant can provide proof of the completion of a post-secondary educational program that was taught in the English or French language, or can provide proof of English or French as a Second Language training in Canada, indicating that the benchmark 4 ability was achieved.

Take The Canadian Citizenship Test

Filing a citizenship application will require you to attend and pass a Citizenship test. A permanent resident applying for citizenship who is under the age of 55 or over the age of 17 must show adequate knowledge of Canada.

Download & Study The Booklet

The Canadian Citizenship 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 Format

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.

The 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 By Descent

Being Born in Canada

Canadian citizenship is obtained automatically by being born in Canada. Citizenship can also be obtained by descent for children born outside of Canada where a parent is a first-generation Canadian citizen, meaning that the parent was either born in Canada or naturalized as a Canadian citizen.

Changes to Citizenship Rule as of 2009

In 2009, the rules for Canadian citizenship changed for children of Canadians born outside of Canada. Prior to April 17, 2009, children born outside of Canada to a Canadian citizen parent were automatically Canadian citizens even if they were the second or more generation born abroad.

As of April 17, 2009, the rules changed to restrict citizenship by descent to the first generation born abroad. As a result, if you were born outside of Canada to a Canadian parent, you will NOT be considered Canadian if your Canadian parent was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, making you the second or more generation born outside of Canada.

The Exception to Citizenship Rule

There is an exception to the first generation rule if your Canadian parent or grandparent was employed in certain situations. If you were born outside of Canada as a second or later generation, the first-generation rule will not apply to you if:

  • your Canadian parent was employed outside Canada, when you were born
    1. with the Canadian Armed Forces
    2. with the federal public administration
    3. with the public service of a province or territory

If a child born to a Canadian parent isn’t eligible for citizenship by descent due to the first generation limit, the Canadian parent can potentially sponsor the child for permanent residence in Canada if the child is under the age of 22 and unmarried.

Complicated Citizenship Cases

Receiving a Fairness Letter

Where the citizenship authorities have concerns with a citizenship application, they may send a letter to the applicant advising them of the concerns and giving them a chance to reply before a decision is made in the case. This is called a “fairness letter.” If you receive a procedural fairness letter in Ontario, it’s important to submit a detailed and accurate report that summarizes all the critical arguments of your case. A strong and well-thought out argument can lead to a more favourable decision by IRCC. Many people omit to seek legal help when responding to a procedural fairness letter IRCC. Applicants who end up submitting a weak response often face a refusal.

Proof of Residency

In the context of citizenship applications, the usual reason why an applicant will receive a fairness letter is because the citizenship authorities have concerns that the applicant is not meeting the residency requirement to qualify for citizenship. This is often the case where the applicant has an extensive travel history but is unable to provide evidence substantiating when they actually traveled. In these circumstances the citizenship authorities may request additional evidence to prove that the applicant was actually in Canada during the periods they claim in their application.


If you receive a fairness letter alleging misrepresentation on your part, it is important to fully take advantage of the opportunity you receive to respond to the immigration officer’s concerns. Misrepresentation is a serious allegation that can result in a citizenship applicant being refused.

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Canadian Citizenship Interviews

In cases where additional information is requested 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.

Canadian Citizenship Applications on Humanitarian & 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.

We Can Help You WIth Your Citizenship Application

Here’s how we can help you:

The Immigration Law Firm of Matthew Jeffery has over 20 years of experience and specializes in handling Citizenship Applications with high success rates. To see if you qualify for Canadian Citizenship, fill out our FREE Citizenship Assessment form. 

Matthew Jeffery Canada Immigration Lawyer
Citizenship Revoked

Can Canadian Citizenship Be Revoked?

Naturalized Canadian citizens can lose their Canadian citizenship if they obtained it by false representation or fraud or knowingly concealing material circumstances in the citizenship application process or in the process of obtaining permanent residence.

Those suspected of having obtained their citizenship in a fraudulent manner will be given due process before their citizenship is revoked. This would mean, at a minimum, notice of the allegations and disclosure of the evidence against them, and an opportunity to respond in writing before a final decision is made. » Learn More

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Citizenship Denied

What Happens If My Citizenship Application is Denied?

If your citizenship application was rejected, you 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 your citizenship application has been denied please fill out the FREE appeals assessment form on our website.

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Benefits of Canadian Citizenship

 Job Opportunities

Canadian citizens are eligible for all types of jobs in Canada. Some employment opportunities such as federal level or government jobs will require citizenship. On the other hand, Permanent residents are limited with job opportunities based on their status.

 Voting & Politics

Being a Canadian citizen gives you the right to vote in federal, provincial and national elections. A citizen may also run for office to have a voice speaking on behalf of Canadian constituents on issues like taxes, education, and foreign policy.

 Dual Citizenship

Canada allows dual citizenship. This allows a Canadian to hold the citizenship of other countries provided that the other country also allows dual citizenship.

 Canadian Passport

A Canadian passport is widely recognized and allows you to travel to many countries without the requirement of a visa. With a Canadian passport, it’s also easier to get a visa where one is required. Canadian passport holders will also have the support of Canadian embassies and consulates should there be any issues abroad.

 Guaranteed Status

There is no residency requirement to maintain citizenship and Canadians citizens can be outside of Canada for extended periods of time with no immigration consequences. Permanent residents, on the other hand, can lose their status if they don’t comply with residency requirements, and will be required to renew their PR cards every 5 years. Canadian citizenship is valid indefinitely. Canadian citizens cannot lose their citizenship if they are convicted of a crime whereas permanent residents can lose their status in Canada as a result of a criminal conviction.

 Citizenship by Descent

As a first-generation Canadian citizen, your children born abroad will automatically be entitled to Canadian citizenship and simply have to apply to register for citizenship for this to be recognized.

Common Questions About Canadian Citizenship

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 apply for citizenship while a student provided that you meet all of the requirements for citizenship, including being a permanent resident, having resided in Canada for at least 3 years in the past 5 years as a permanent resident, filing income tax returns if required, and speak adequate English or French.

Once you qualify for citizenship and make your application, you do not need to remain in Canada while the application processes. However, you may be required to return to Canada for purposes of the citizenship test or the oath ceremony.

Canada is an inclusive country which welcomes new citizens who meet the relevant requirements. Canadian citizens have the right to freedom of movement, including leaving and entering the country.

The fastest way to obtain Canadian citizenship is to become a permanent resident of Canada then apply for citizenship after meeting the residency requirement of being physically in Canada for at least 3 of the past 5 years.

Canadian Citizenship Overview

A brief overview of how you can obtain a Canadian Citizenship and how The Law Office of Matthew Jeffery can help you!

Citizenship Success Stories

Matthew Jeffery Google Review - Ty P

I worked with Matthew Jeffery to help me with my citizenship application. They were an absolute pleasure to deal with, and provided guidance and support throughout the process that was invaluable. Their knowledge of everything required, understanding of my situation, and detailed explanation throughout, made this a very positive experience for me. I would highly recommend Matthew Jeffery, and special thanks to John Laman who was fantastic to work with during the entire process.
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Ty P

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Matthew Jeffery Google Review - Paul Z

When I was desperate, I chose Mr. Jeffery to help me. With his professional help, my citizenship problem was solved. I am very grateful to Mr. Jeffery for his professional help. I strongly recommend that you can ask Mr. Jeffery for help for any immigration/citizenship issues. Thank you Mr. Jeffery.
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Paul Z

Google Review

The "Canadian Citizenship" application can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the proper steps to follow, in order to guarantee success. The Matthew Jeffery Law firm has given me total peace of mind by helping me with preparing my application and with the process as well (by making a complex and hard to understand process, easy to understand). I was assisted each step of the way, and informed of any new updates. The whole process was made simple and if I had a question, they were ready to explain. If you are looking for a firm which is very knowledgeable of the Citizenship application process, ready to answer your questions if you have any, staff who truly care of the outcome of your application, then this is the place to go. The Matthew Jeffery law firm is a God-sent!! I am also proud and happy to be able to call myself a "Canadian" now!!
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Matthew Jeffery Google Review - Andrew E

I applied for Canadian Citizenship in 2014 and my file was on hold since 2016, the office of the Mp’s could not help to resolve the issue, I was only told to wait. Before I contacted the law office of Matthew Jeffery, I had wasted time and money with some other incompetent law office. I meet with Jeffery Matthew in March 2019. In April mandamus appeal was file, immediately after the appeal was filed immigration removed the hold placed on my application for almost 5 years and placed my application on “Fast track” and I became a Canadian CITIZEN In Approximately 2 months after Matthew Jeffery filled mandamus appeal. 5 year of wait was over in just two months. I strongly recommend his law office for a Timely and Positive Outcome.
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Andrew E

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Matthew Jeffery Google Review - Adam G

I had a great pleasure working with Mathew Jeffery and his team. Thank you so much for helping me to help me to retain my citizenship. Thank you so very much.
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Adam G

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Matthew Jeffery Google Review - Hat S

We are immensely thankful to Mr. Jeffery and his very professional staff. Mr. Jeffery is our lawyer since 2009 for many issues from wife citizenship to my PR card renewals. We find him very professional and up to our satisfaction.
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Hat S

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