How Long Can I Live Outside Canada if I’m a Citizen?
One of the questions that is commonly asked is if being out of the country for a certain amount of time can cause a Canadian citizen to lose their citizenship.
Living outside of the country for any period of time, even a permanent move, will not cause a citizen, naturalized or Canadian born, to lose their citizenship status.
Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the rules of Canadian citizenship have recently changed.
Revocation of citizenship
A naturalized Canadian citizen can lose their citizenship is if they have been found to have committed fraud in the process of obtaining their citizenship or their permanent residence.
If the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has concerns that you may have obtained your citizenship by fraud, you will be notified via a letter setting out those concerns and providing you with an opportunity to respond within a certain time before a decision is made on the matter. When you find out you are in danger of losing your citizenship, your first order of business should be to get some legal help. Find a lawyer that specializes in citizenship revocation.
After you have been notified, you or your lawyer can respond in writing. At this point, the case management branch of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will review the information related to your case and then to make a ruling. A hearing may be required, during which you may present evidence that could help your case. You will be notified of the ruling in a Notice of Decision, which will be sent in the form of a letter or an email.
During the process and until a decision has been reached, you retain all the rights and privileges of citizenship. You may not, however, apply to renounce your citizenship if you’ve already been served notice of the intent to revoke your status by the Minister.
If the Minister decides to revoke your citizenship, you will no longer have the rights and privileges of Canadian citizenship, effective on the date that the ruling was made. You may revert to permanent residence or you might lose all status in Canada, depending on the circumstances, and can face immediate deportation from the country. You can appeal a decision to revoke your citizenship to the Federal Court within 30 days.
If you have more questions about the regulations to follow when traveling abroad or an issue with a possible citizenship revocation, contact a qualified lawyer.