Canadian citizenship is the goal for many people. Yet, most people do not plan their citizenship path carefully or with foresight.
Most people acquire citizenship by birth or by naturalization.
Citizenship by Birth
In general, if you were born in Canada, you are a Canadian citizen.
There are numerous other rules for how a person may be a Canadian citizen by birth. For example, a person may be a Canadian if her or she was born in another country after February 14, 1977, and at least 1 parent was a Canadian citizen at the time of his or her birth. There are also several different provisions which either denied or revoked Canadian citizenship to children of Canadian citizens.
If you have Canadian citizen parents, then it may be worthwhile to investigate whether you are already a Canadian citizen.
Citizenship by Naturalisation
For most immigrants to Canada, to be eligible to become a Canadian citizen they must satisfy a residency requirement, have adequate knowledge of English or French, and have knowledge of Canada.
To meet the residence requirement, a Permanent Resident of Canada must accumulate 3 years of physical presence in Canada within the 5 years immediately before the citizenship application. You must also:
- meet certain documentary requirements including proof of tax filings;
- have adequate knowledge of 1 of Canada’s 2 official languages, either English or French; and
- must understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, as well as an understanding of Canada’s history, values, institutions and symbols.
To evaluate your language abilities and your knowledge of Canada, you must take a citizenship test if you are between the ages of 18 and 54. Currently, citizenship applicants aged 55 or older are not required to take this test, though this may change in the future. The test is usually written although you may be asked to have an interview with a citizenship judge.
Sometimes your interaction with Canadian immigration will be used to assess if you have adequate language abilities. For example, you will be expected to:
- answer simple questions on familiar topics, using short sentences;
- show that you know enough words for basic everyday communication;
- tell a simple story about everyday activities;
- speak about something you did in the past (or will do in the future);
- give simple everyday instructions and directions; and
- express satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Citizenship for Adopted Children
There are 2 ways that children adopted abroad by Canadian citizens may obtain Canadian citizenship:
The parents make an application for Canadian citizenship for the child directly. In this case, the child will be considered the “first generation born abroad”, and his or her children, if born abroad, will not have a claim for Canadian citizenship.
Permanent Resident route:
In this case, the parents would first apply for the child to come to Canada as a Permanent Resident. Once the child has landed in Canada, the parents can apply for Canadian citizenship for the child. This usually takes longer, but the child will not be considered born abroad, so even if his or her children are born abroad, they will be Canadian citizens as the “first generation born abroad.”
How We Can Help
We have assisted clients who did not even know that they could have a claim to Canadian citizenship. Some Americans may choose Canadian citizenship as tax liability is dependent on residence. In cases where clients may have a claim to Canadian citizenship through 12 of their parents, we conduct extensive reviews of family trees and history to determine whether there is a valid citizenship claim.
For clients who wish to apply for Canadian citizenship by naturalisation, we assist them by analyzing whether they meet the basic requirements and recommend some options to put forward a better case.
If clients have their citizenship applications refused, we also assist by filing an application to the Federal Court against the decision.