If you are thinking of applying for Canadian citizenship you are almost certainly already living in Canada and have permanent resident status. Because this is such an important decision – applying for and successfully obtaining Canadian citizenship – the first thing you should do, however, is ensure that you are eligible to apply.
Canadian Citizenship Eligibility
You are eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship if
- you are a permanent resident who meets the residence requirements
- you can prove you paid your taxes
- you can prove you can communicate effectively in one or both of Canada’s official languages (English and French)
- you can prove you have knowledge of Canada on a citizenship test (if applicable)
- you are not prohibited from applying for citizenship (see the bottom of this page).
Getting the facts straight on who is eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship will help you avoid applying too early and being turned down out of hand. It will also show you what steps you must take to fulfil the requirements to become eligible if you aren’t already.
The eligibility rules are currently as follows:
Age Requirements for Canadian Citizenship
- As of June 2017, the age requirement was lifted so minors can now apply for Canadian citizenship with or without their parent.
There is no age requirement.
Canadian Permanent Resident Status Requirement for Canadian Citizenship
You must have PR status in Canada. As a result:
- Your status cannot be under review due to immigration issues or fraud issues;
- You cannot be under a removal order (for example, a notice of deportation);
- You must have NO unfulfilled conditions regarding your PR status;
- You do NOT need to have a PR card to apply for Citizenship. If your PR card has expired, you can still apply for citizenship as long as you meet all the requirements listed on this page.
Canadian Citizenship Residence Requirement: Time lived in Canada
In addition to meeting the PR Residency Obligation, you will have to show that:
- For the 5 years immediately before the date you apply for Citizenship, you must have been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days.
- If you were a temporary resident of Canada (i.e. in Canada as a visitor, or on a work or study permit) during the past five years, you can count these days as half days (.5) up to 365 days (i.e. if you were here as a temporary resident for two years in the last five years, you are credited a full year of residence)
Canadian Citizenship Income Tax Requirement
You must have filed income taxes in 3 tax years that are completely or partially within the 5 years prior to the date of your application for citizenship.
Intent to Reside Requirement for Canadian Citizenship
As of June 2017, the “intent to reside” has been repealed. You no longer need to state that you intend to reside in Canada as a citizen.
This repealed provision was entirely unenforceable anyway but now you don’t have to claim you intend to reside in Canada.
You must display adequate knowledge of English and/or French. This means the following:
- You must be able to engage in brief, everyday conversations about normal topics.
- You must understand simple instructions and questions.
- You must be able to construct simple sentences, using the basic elements of English or French grammar.
- You must be able to understand and answer common questions.
- If you are 18 – 54 years old, you will have to submit proof of your language abilities with your citizenship application. These include:
- Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) General Test: CELPIP-G test; OR, CELPIP General LS (listening & speaking) test (NOT the academic test)
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS) General Training test (NOT the academic test)
- TEF (Test D’Evaluation de Francais).
- You will also have to communicate verbally with an immigration official during an interview where you will be assessed by the officer on your language skills.
Knowledge of Canada Requirements for Canadian Citizenship
You will have to take a citizenship test if you are 18 – 54 years of age. You should read Discover Canada: the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship to study for this test which includes questions on:
- Canada’s history,
- Canada’s values,
- Canada’s institutions,
- Canada’s symbols.
Go here for more information on Discover Canada: the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.
If you meet all the above requirements, you can apply for citizenship.
Ineligibility for Canadian Citizenship
Any one of the following may make you ineligible for Canadian citizenship:
- If you are in prison, on parole, or on probation in Canada;
- If you are serving a sentence outside Canada;
- If you have been convicted of an indictable (i.e. serious) offence in Canada;
- If you have been convicted of an offence outside Canada;
- If you are charged with an indictable offence in Canada;
- If you are on trial for an indictable offence in Canada;
- If you are appealing an indictable offence in Canada;
- If you are charged with an offence outside Canada;
- If you are on trial for an offence outside Canada;
- If you are appealing an offence outside Canada.
What happens if I applied for citizenship for myself but not for my child, and now I’m a citizen but my child is still a permanent resident?
You can apply for your child’s citizenship now.
If I meet the PR Residency Obligation but don’t meet the residence requirements for citizenship, can I still apply?
Normally, you will not be approved for citizenship unless you meet the residency requirements for citizenship. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
How do I prove I paid my taxes to apply for Canadian citizenship?
You can submit your Notices of Assessment that you receive annually from Canada Revenue after you submit your tax returns. If you don’t have paper copies, you can get copies of them from CRA’s website. This article has a complete guide to setting up an account and printing off tax information.
How do I prove that I intend to reside in Canada?
As of June 2017, you no longer have to state that you intend to live in Canada once you are granted citizenship.
Do I have to take a language test for Canadian Citizenship?
No, if you can prove that you were educated in an English-speaking country or a French-speaking country, or you can prove you were educated at a school whose primary language of study was either English or French, then you do not need to take a language test and submit the results to IRCC.