Applying for Canadian Citizenship
Acquiring Canadian citizenship is often the ultimate goal for immigrants to Canada. Only by becoming a Canadian citizen is it possible to fully participate in Canadian society. Citizens have a number of very important rights that permanent residents of Canada do not, including the right vote, run for office, hold a Canadian passport and remain a Canadian citizen without maintaining a residence in Canada.
It is prudent to apply for Canadian citizenship at your earliest eligibility. The process can be long, and time consuming but the benefits of becoming a Canadian citizen are numerous.
Due to recent changes to the Citizenship Act, the residency requirement for acquisition of Canadian citizenship have been reduced
to 3 of 5 years from 4 years of 6. In addition, permanent residents are able to count their time spent in Canada before acquiring permanent resident status at the rate of 50% to a maximum of one year. This means that an individual who resided in Canada for two years on a work permit before becoming a permanent resident, will be eligible to apply for citizenship only 2 years after becoming a permanent resident.
1. When can I apply for Canadian citizenship?
Even though it is well known that applications for Canadian citizenship may take many months to process, it is not possible to file an application until AFTER you meet the residency requirement. The material time for calculating residence is the 5 years prior to the submission of the application. This means that if an individual were to submit an application for citizenship 6 months prior to their eligibility date on the understanding that it will take at least one year to process the application, by the time this application was determined, it would be rejected because the applicant was not yet eligible at the time that the application was submitted,
For this reason, it is important to calculate your eligibility very carefully in order to ensure that a mathematical error does not result in a refusal of the application.
2. I have a criminal record. Do I need a pardon or record suspension before I apply for Canadian citizenship?
If you have a criminal record in Canada, you do not need a pardon or record suspension before applying for citizenship. The restriction that is relevant to people with criminal records is that time spent in Canada serving a sentence (including a probationary term) does not count towards the residency requirement for acquiring Canadian citizenship. Similarly, an individual who has been convicted of an indictable offence is not eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship within 4 years of that conviction.
3. How do I prove that I complied with the residency obligation?
There are a number of ways to show that you have met the residency obligation in Canada. Most importantly is by providing copies of all the pages of your passport in your application. In addition, many countries provide records of your admission to and departures, known as travel histories. This is valuable evidence of your travel outside of Canada. Furthermore, evidence relating to your employment, your education etc. can also be considered by a citizenship officer in order to determine whether you comply with the residency requirements. It is important to ensure that your application is as complete as possible and contains all of the necessary documentary evidence that will allow an officer to recognize that you meet all of the statutory requirements under the Citizenship Act.
4. Will I have to pass a knowledge and language test in order to acquire Canadian citizenship?
One of the recent changes to the Citizenship Act was to limit the number of people who are required to pass a test demonstrating the knowledge of Canada as well as a test for English or French language proficiency.
Under the current legislation, only people between the ages of 18 to 55 are required to pass the Canadian knowledge test and to establish that they meet the minimum proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages.
The lawyers at Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell have acquired a substantial amount of experience representing applicants for Canadian citizenship. In addition to applying for citizenship, our experience extends to defending individuals from the government’s attempts to strip them of their Canadian citizenship, challenging refusals of applications, and applying for certificates for recognizing that certain individuals are Canadian citizens by birth.
If you have a question regarding Canadian citizenship, please contact the lawyers at Mamann, Sandaluk & Kingwell today.