Did you know that 1 out of every 4 workers in Canada are immigrants?
Not only does moving to Canada provide great employment opportunities, but it also offers plenty of outdoor space to roam along with bustling cities to explore. Moving here is a dream to some, but they might not always consider what's involved with claiming Canadian citizenship.
To become a Canadian citizen, you must first become a permanent resident. Both come with their advantages and disadvantages, but both are crucial if you want to reside in Canada. Luckily, we're here to tell you everything you need to know.
Read on to learn more about Canadian citizenship and what it has to offer.
What Is a Canadian Citizen?
A Canadian citizen is someone who lives in Canada full-time and has access to all of the social benefits that come with it. They've either gone through the naturalization process or were born a citizen of the country.
Requirements to be Eligible for Canadian Citizenship
If you're wanting to become a Canadian citizen, there are a few requirements you'll need to meet:
- Be a permanent resident
- Live in Canada for three of the last five years
- Have accurately filed your taxes
- Pass the citizenship test
- Prove your language skills (proficiency in English and French)
There are a few instances where requirements can be waived, but it's rare. Here's what you need to know about the requirements.
Be a Permanent Resident - Details On This to Follow
The first requirement you'll need to meet is being a permanent resident.
Yes, there are a few differences between becoming a permanent resident and becoming a citizen. We'll be covering that later in this article.
Living in Canada for 3 of the Last Five Years
Not only do you need to be a permanent resident, but you'll need to have lived in the country for three out of the last five years. It's often encouraged to apply after you've lived here longer in case there are any mistakes made with your calculations, but it isn't a requirement.
If you spent any time in the country as a protected person, or outside as a Crown servant or family member of a Crown servant, that time might be able to be counted on your application.
If you take any trips outside of Canada, make sure you write them down. This can help you keep track of everything.
Have Accurately Filed Your Taxes
If you're required to file taxes, you may need to show proof of at least three of the last five years. If you're not sure whether you're required to file taxes, you can check here. More to that, be sure to check out this article specifically created for newcomers looking to organize their finances and responsibilities.
Have Passed Your Test on The Rights, Responsibilities and Knowledge of Canada?
If you're between the ages of 18 and 54 on the day you sign your application, you'll need to take this test. Here's a bit of what you can expect to be asked about:
- The rights and responsibilities of Canadians
The test is about 30 minutes long and is in both French and English. There are 20 multiple-choice and true/false questions (you need to get 15 right) that are usually written, but they may be oral. The official study guide is Discover Canada.
Prove Your Language Skills
Did you know Canada has two official languages? If you're between the ages of 18 and 54, you're going to need to pass a proficiency test in both English and French. There are a few things the government might verify:
- How well you communicate with citizenship officials
- Any proof you sent in with your application
- If necessary, assessing your language level during a hearing with a citizenship official
The benchmarks you'll need to meet are as follows:
- Understand simple instructions, questions and directions
- Take part in short conversations on everyday topics
- Use basic grammar
- Know enough common words or phrases to answer questions
If you have a certificate, diploma or test, you might also be able to submit that as your proof.
The Many Advantages of Becoming a Canadian Citizen
With this citizenship comes a lot of advantages that you wouldn't otherwise have access to.
If you want, you can vote and run for any political office in the country. You also gain access to travel on a Canadian passport and you never have to worry about losing your status. You're automatically eligible for more jobs, housing and better insurance.
You also won't need to renew your immigration documentation every five years as you would with a permanent residency.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Being a Canadian Citizen?
While the process of becoming a citizen can be a long and challenging one, it's worth it to a lot of the people that apply. They often have access to freedoms they didn't before, and healthcare they wouldn't have had in their home country. There are a few downsides, though.
If you want to try applying for dual citizenship, you might run into problems. Not all countries allow this, and you can face legal problems if you attempt it. It also means giving up your first citizenship, which some might see as a con.
You'll also have to attend jury duty if you're summoned (which is common in a lot of countries).
Lastly, depending on the province and city you're living in, Canada can be an expensive place to live when compared with other parts of the world.
What is a Permanent Resident?
Put simply, a permanent resident is someone who has immigrated to Canada but is not a full citizen. You have to be approved for this status, and it typically puts you on track to become a full citizen.
Someone who is temporarily in Canada, like a foreign worker or a student, isn't a permanent resident and doesn't qualify for the status.
There are five categories of permanent residency that you can qualify for:
- Express entry
- Business immigration
- Family class immigration
- Canadian Experience Class
- Provincial nominee program
Express entry is available to skilled workers. You start by finding out if you're eligible. If you qualify, you're then ranked in the Express Entry pool using the Comprehensive Ranking System.
From there, you'll need to get your documents ready and your profile filled out, and then wait for your invitation to apply. Those with the highest CRS scores are the first to get invited.
You'll have 60 days to fill out and submit your application had any documentation after that.
This category is meant for business people and was designed to encourage and facilitate admission into Canada for those seeking new opportunities and ventures. You can find help for this category on both the federal and provincial or territorial levels.
If you're looking to start a business, Canada is willing to offer you permanent residency (but no funding). Before you apply, you'll need to know what your business classification is. You'll also need to commit to establishing and incorporating your business in Canada.
Each business class has its own qualifications to be aware of before applying, so be sure to research those thoroughly.
From there, you're going to gather any required documentation, pay your fees and mail in the application. You'll receive an acknowledgment of receipt assuming your application is complete and correct, and then processing by an IRCC Officer will begin.
You can go here to check your application status and to find processing time estimates.
It's important to note that if you intend to live in Quebec, you will not eligible. This province has its own immigration requirements and procedures.
Family Class Immigration
This permanent residency category was created in an attempt to keep families together during the immigration process. It creates a huge pull for families attempting to immigrate, and it's a large component of Canada's overall system.
It works to reunite Canadian citizens and permanent residents with spouses, partners, and close family members. Sponsorship is required for these applications and is usually the parent of dependents or some other family member.
Sponsors are required to ensure the applicant submits a complete application, pay the sponsorship and processing fees for the principal applicant and any accompanying dependents. They have the option of paying this fee upfront, but they can also pay later as a condition of being granted permanent residency.
The application process is going to depend on how the sponsor is related to the applicant, and what can happen in each instance can also vary. The process covers a lot of different scenarios, like children that might be born during the process or changing a child's name on the application during the adoption process.
The process can be delayed or suspended for a number of reasons, though, so it's important to ensure all the requirements are covered before you begin your application.
Canadian Experience Class
The Canadian Experience Class (CEC) is a permanent residence category for those with skilled work experience in Canada. If you applied after January 1, 2015, you were likely invited to apply for Express Entry, as CEC is now part of that entire system.
Prior to that, the CEC was a category developed for individuals with skilled work experience in Canada — temporary foreign workers and foreign graduates with qualifying experience.
Provincial Nominee Program
To gain PR through this program, you have to apply through your province. Each one is going to have different requirements that you'll have to meet, and then you have to apply to be nominated.
You can apply online for this specific nomination, and pay your fees as well. From there, you just have to wait for your nomination to come through!
The Many Advantages of Becoming a Permanent Canadian Resident
When you're a resident, you have access to a lot of the social benefits that citizens receive, like:
- Protection under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
You can also live, work and study anywhere in Canada, and you're on a direct path to being able to apply for citizenship. If you have children or a family, they can come with you! Your children also have access to the Canadian education system.
Are There Any Disadvantages of Being a Canadian Permanent Resident?
Like we've already said, you're going to have access to a lot of the same social benefits that a full Canadian citizen has. There are, however, some things that differ and can be viewed as a setback.
You'll need to renew your immigration paperwork every five years as a permanent resident, and you have to pay taxes just like a citizen does (if you view that as a disadvantage). You're also not allowed to vote in political elections or run for political office, and you're not able to hold some jobs that require a high security clearance.
You're also going to carry your PR card with you at all times. Again, this isn't the biggest deal to some, but others might view it as a disadvantage if they're likely to lose their card.
Final Thoughts on Canadian Citizenship and Permanent Residency
Ultimately, whether or not you want to apply for Canadian citizenship is going to be a very personal decision to make. It's going to depend on your current situation and what you stand to gain by making the transition.
Canada is a great country to live in, and a lot of people have a clear picture of their life when they move here. Do you know what you want and need?
Insurance is something that any citizen needs, however, and the question of whether to go private or public is a big decision. Insudinary can help, though. Contact us today for a free quote.