Citizenship requirements for physical presence, language and knowledge changed on October 11. You can apply for citizenship under the new rules using updated forms.
To be eligible to become a Canadian citizen, you must meet all conditions, including:
- Permanent Resident status
- Time you have lived in Canada
- Income tax filing
- Language skills
- How well you know Canada
If you have served in or with the Canadian Armed Forces, you might be able to apply through a fast-track process.
Permanent Resident status
Regardless of your age, if you are applying for citizenship, you must have:
- Permanent Resident (PR) status in Canada
- no unfulfilled conditions related to your PR status
Your PR status must not be in question. This means you must not:
- be under review for immigration or fraud reasons
- have certain unfulfilled conditions related to your PR status
- be under a removal order (an order from Canadian officials to leave Canada)
You don’t need a valid PR card to apply for citizenship. If you have an expired PR card, you can still apply for citizenship.
Time you have lived in Canada
Regardless of your age, you must have been physically present in Canada for at least:
- 1095 days during the five years right before the date you sign your application
You may be able to use some of your time spent in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person towards your physical presence calculation. Each day spent physically in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person before becoming a permanent resident within the last 5 years will count as one half day, with a maximum of 365 days, towards your physical presence.
Temporary resident status includes lawful authorization to enter or remain in Canada as a:
- worker or,
- temporary resident permit holder
A protected person is someone who:
- was found to be in need of protection or a convention refugee by the Immigration and Refugee Board, or
- received a positive decision on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Note: If you made a refugee claim, or were included on a family member’s refugee claim, you will not be credited time in Canada from the date of the refugee claim until you have received a positive decision confirming that you are a protected person as described above.
These requirements don’t apply to children under 18 where a parent or guardian has applied on their behalf for citizenship using the subsection 5(2) application form.
You may be eligible to apply even if you don’t meet the minimum time lived in Canada if you’re a:
- Crown servant (certain categories of public officials)
- family member of a Crown servant
Find out if you have lived in Canada long enough to apply to become a citizen.
Income tax filing
Regardless of your age, if required under the Income Tax Act, you must meet your personal income tax filing obligations in three tax years that are fully or partially within the five years right before the date you apply.
Canada has two official languages: English and French. To become a citizen, you must show that you can speak and listen in one of these languages. This means you can:
- take part in short, everyday conversations about common topics
- understand simple instructions, questions and directions
- use basic grammar, including simple structures and tenses
- show you know enough common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself
Note: Applicants under 18 years of age applying under the subsection 5(1) or 5(2) grant category do not have to meet the language requirement.
Citizenship staff will decide how well you can communicate in English or French during your interview. A citizenship officer will make the final decision on your application.
How well you know Canada
To become a citizen, you’ll need to take a test to meet the knowledge requirement for citizenship. You’ll need to answer questions about Canada’s:
- rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, such as voting in elections and obeying the law
The tests are:
- in English or French
- made up of questions based on the Discover Canada study guide
- usually in a written format, unless you need to take it orally with a citizenship officer
- given to applicants 18 to 54 years old.
Note: Applicants under 18 years of age applying under the 5(1) and 5(2) grant category do not have to meet the knowledge requirement.
If you need any accommodations to take the test, let us know as soon as possible.
Everything you need to know for the test is in Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.
If you have committed a crime in or outside Canada, you may not be eligible to become a Canadian citizen for a period of time. This includes if you:
- are serving a sentence outside Canada
- are serving a term of imprisonment, on parole or on probation in Canada
- are charged with, on trial for, or involved in an appeal of an:
- have been convicted in the four years before applying for citizenship of an:
Time spent serving a term of imprisonment, on parole, or on probation doesn’t count as time you have lived in Canada.
Read more about situations that may prevent you from becoming a Canadian citizen.
Top questions about Canadian citizenship
- What are the requirements for becoming a Canadian citizen?
- I already have a citizenship application in process. How will the 2017 changes to the citizenship legislation affect my application?
- Do I become a Canadian when I marry a Canadian?
- How much does it cost to apply for Canadian citizenship?
- I am a citizen of another country. Will I lose that citizenship if I become a Canadian?
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