Canadian Citizenship: Immigration to Canada
Canadian citizenship is regulated by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC,). It is the federal department for both, current citizenship holders and those applying for it. Canada welcomes over 260,000 permanent residents each year, many of whom successfully become Canadian citizens.
Canadian Citizenship Advantages
If you are planning to stay permanently in Canada, then your eventual goal would be to become a citizen of Canada. And being a Canadian citizen opens up many prospects for you and your children. These are the following advantages of Canadian citizenship.
Right to Vote
Canadian citizenship gives you the right to participate in any federal, provincial and municipal elections, as well as have the opportunity to run as an independent candidate. A vast majority of Canadian citizens are very active when it comes to participation in elections. So in this sense, you will be expected to be an active member of Canadian society.
Freedom to Travel
Unlike permanent residents, you can travel outside Canada for an unlimited period of time without the loss of your citizenship. Canada is part of the visa-free regime which means with a Canadian passport you will easily enter most countries of the world.
You will have access to lots of employment opportunities. Some jobs require a high-level security clearance, which only citizens have. As a citizen, you will be able to work in governmental structures.
Children born in Canada automatically become Canadian citizens. Your children will enjoy the same rights and privileges as you have. Becoming a citizen at birth also applies to children that were born to a Canadian parent outside Canada.
All Canadians legally residing in Canada are entitled to free medical service and children have access to free education. Canada provides high pensions and benefits for retired and disabled people. Canada has a system of government subsidies for people who are temporarily unemployed. Thanks to multiple donations, there are many social programs available almost for all Canadian residents.
Canada allows dual citizenship. It means you will not lose your current citizenship while obtaining Canadian citizenship. For example, you are a citizen of the United Arab Emirates immigrating to Canada. After receiving permanent residence, you can easily visit the UAE and return to Canada without a visa. After three years of residing in Canada, you receive Canadian citizenship. You can go back to the U.A.E., live and work there and at the same time, go to Canada any time and continue living in Canada enjoying all the benefits of Canadian citizenship.
Obtaining Canadian Citizenship
To become a Canadian citizen, a foreign national must meet certain requirements and prove authorities that he or she is worthy of a Canadian passport. These requirements and rules are governed by respective laws, which are periodically amended.
One of the simplest ways of obtaining Canadian citizenship is a procedure of naturalization, which supposes the physical presence of a person in the country. First, you have to get a status of permanent residence and after three years of residing in Canada, apply for citizenship.
- Be at least 18;
- To have permanent resident status. A foreigner gets a special plastic card, establishing his identity and enabling him to fulfill professional activity and live freely in Canada;
- At least three years of residing in Canada for the last five years as a permanent resident at the time of applying for citizenship. Studying in Canada or temporary employment doesn’t provide for the permanent residence.
- No outstanding tax arrears and filing income declaration for the last three years;
- Basic knowledge of one of the official languages – English or French;
- To have a knowledge of some basic facts about Canada, including laws, citizen’s rights, and obligations. Applicants must take a test. They will be provisionally given a study book with detailed information and hence, the applicant shouldn’t encounter any difficulties when passing the test;
- Individuals under 18 should have a permanent residence status, but meeting the four-year education requirement isn't necessary anymore;
- For children under 18, the application must be submitted by their parents/adoptive parents or legal guardians, who have already been holders of the Canadian passports or are in the process of obtaining it;
- Applicants between the ages 14 and 64 must demonstrate sufficient ability in either English or French in order to communicate in Canadian society;
- Applicants must not have a criminal history.
Who Can Be Denied Canadian Citizenship?
Those who meet all the requirements will likely be denied Canadian citizenship if they have a criminal background. In particular, these are individuals:
- Serving a sentence in a prison or have been under investigation in any country;
- Charged with an offense and those that have been sentenced during the three years prior to applying for citizenship;
- Who have been denied a passport during the last five years on the basis of providing false information;
- Who lost their citizenship on the basis of illegal actions.
It’s worth noting that the above-mentioned factors can make the citizenship procedure really difficult. However, each application is reviewed on an individual basis, which means it’s worth trying.
Programs for Obtaining Canadian Citizenship
There are many programs that allow foreigners to move to Canada and stay there permanently. After three years of residing in the country, they can apply for Canadian citizenship. Besides, they all have different goals – attracting foreign skilled workers and investors, family reunification and so forth. Each program sets its requirements.
Programs for Skilled Workers
These are programs that provide employment opportunities aiming to enhance the local economy. To participate in these programs, you have to meet the following requirements:
- Have work experience in a listed occupation with a job offer from a Canadian employer;
- Demonstrate language proficiency in one of the official languages (French or English);
- Hold a degree or diploma related to your occupation;
- Have a clear criminal background;
- Show proof of sufficient funds for covering living expenses at least for the first three months.
Apart from these requirements, your age and ability to adjust (adaptability factor) will be important as well.
Programs for Entrepreneurs
Canada welcomes foreigners who are willing to invest their money in a Canadian economy. The main requirement is having a sufficient amount of money, which is variable depending on the province or territory and the entrepreneur program as well. Other requirements are:
- Show the evidence of being able to invest the required amount;
- Show the evidence of the required amount of net worth;
- Have a business and business management experience;
- Demonstrate language proficiency in one of the official languages (French or English).
Additional requirements include guarantee letter form one of the investment funds or government venture association.
International students studying in one of the Canadian educational institutions on a valid study permit can stay in the country permanently and build their career in one of the Canadian companies. To study in Canada, you’ll have to secure special permission and meet the following requirements:
- Get an acceptance letter from a Canadian university or college;
- Have sufficient funds for tuition fees and your living expenses in Canada;
- Have a clear criminal record;
- Pass a medical check.
After graduation, students will have 90 days to find a job and transit into a work permit. Otherwise, they will have to leave the country.
Family Reunification Programs
Canadian citizens can help their family members immigrate through the so-called sponsorship program. This program is open to spouses/common-law partners, children, parents, and grandparents. A sponsor must be at least 18 years of age, reside in Canada and have sufficient funds to support a future immigrant.
What You Must Know About Canadian Citizenship?
While babies born in Canada become Canadian citizens by birthright, the parents don’t receive Canadian citizenship automatically. They can only remain in the country as temporary visitors, students or workers.
Important to know that being married to a Canadian citizen won’t grant you any special privileges, except for permanent residence, which might lead to Canadian citizenship.
Federal and Provincial Immigration Programs
As mentioned above, there are many options to relocate to Canada. A direct way to permanent residency leading to Canadian citizenship is applying for one of the Canadian immigration programs. It can be federal immigration streams, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class.
Canadian provinces and territories also run their own programs known as Provincial Nominee Programs. Family sponsorship and entrepreneur programs are also immigration streams leading to PR. So all these programs are direct ways to permanent residency leading to Canadian citizenship.
Temporary Visa Holders
International students staying in Canada under a valid student visa can extend their visa by securing a job and then applying for PR. This is possible through the Postgraduate Program. Foreign workers who managed to work in Canada for at least three years under valid work permit also qualify for the permanent residency. However, tourists and invited friends coming to Canada under visitor visa don’t qualify for permanent residence.
Basically, all temporary visa holders, such as foreign workers, short-term/long-term students, business visitors are expected to leave the country once their visa is expired. The only and direct way of leading to Canadian citizenship is applying for permanent residency through immigration programs. Otherwise, you should be able to extend your temporary stay in Canada that allows you to stay in Canada at least three years to apply for PR.