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Canadian Citizenship 101: How To Become a Canadian

So, You Wanna Be a Canadian?

Since the signing of the Immigration Act, 1976 into legislation almost 50 years ago, Canada has become a world leader in welcoming new migrants from across the globe. The Act was the first piece of legislation to clearly outline Canadian immigration policies and objectives, which ultimately removed broad discretionary powers over admissibility and deportation.

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (“IRCC”) database, Canada has welcomed over 1.2 million new Canadian Citizens within the last five years. We are a growing nation, and international migration has played a major contributing factor to Canada’s population growth. From an immigration standpoint, business is a-boomin’!

Have you thought about becoming a Canadian citizen? There are many benefits of becoming a Canadian citizen, including access to healthcare, global mobility, and the ability to renounce another citizenship that may no longer serve your needs.

Beyond Canada’s natural beauty and countless opportunities for those seeking to establish themselves in a rich, diverse land, acquiring Canadian citizenship can also allow individuals to untether themselves from cumbersome obligations to a land they are no longer attached to.

So, How Does One Become a Canadian Citizen?

The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive overview of the Canadian citizenship process. For those of us who were born in Canada, citizenship is automatically granted. Simple enough! But what about those who were born outside of the country? The pathway to Canadian citizenship for those born abroad to non-Canadian citizen parents can easily be outlined in the following two steps:

1) Obtain Permanent Residence (“PR”) status;
2) Obtain Canadian Citizenship status.

Here is where things can get complicated…

Pathway to Permanent Residence

…but they certainly do not have to be! Having an experienced Canadian immigration attorney can be your most valuable asset when applying for PR status as they can help guide you in choosing the pathway that best brings you into Canada. Though each pathway to PR deserves its own separate article on its own, the following is a brief summary of some of the most common paths:

Express Entry – This program is for foreign skilled workers who want to permanently settle in Canada. If you meet the eligibility requirements and are among the highest ranked in the Express Entry pool (scores are calculated through the Comprehensive Ranking System), you will receive an invitation to apply for PR. A Canadian immigration attorney can help guide you through the various applications available under this program.

Family Sponsorship – This program is for the spouse (as well as common-law or conjugal partner) and dependent children of a Canadian citizen OR Canadian PR. Those who enter and are approved under this program can apply for an open work permit to lawfully gain employment. Other family members may also be sponsored under this program if they meet the necessary requirements.

Provincial Nomination Program – This program allows students, skilled or semi-skilled workers to apply for PR by receiving a nomination from a chosen Canadian province or territory in which they would like to live. Both Express and Non-Express Entry options are available in this program.

Start-up Visa Program – This program is an excellent choice for skilled entrepreneurs and business owners who either wish to build new businesses in Canada or be sponsored by an existing Canadian organization.

Pathway to Canadian Citizenship

Congratulations, the hard part is over! Once Canadian PR has been obtained, citizenship is just around the corner. Canadian permanent residents must then meet the following requirements to obtain Canadian citizenship:

• Ensure your PR status is valid;
• Spend 1,095 days (3 years) out of the last 5 years in Canada;
• File your taxes;
• Pass the citizenship test and prove your English/French language skills; and
• Take the oath of citizenship.

That’s that! You are now a new citizen of this vast, culturally diverse nation. Making this journey takes time, effort, and can be costly – reaching the finish line is certainly a milestone in one’s life that garners respect and appreciation. We are here to help you get there and would like to take that journey with you.

Stay tuned for the latest on this and other news from the MPC immigration team as we closely monitor updates and for any other significant changes in US and Canadian immigration!