Are you Ready to Become a Canadian Citizen?

In October 2017 a number changes to the Citizenship Act came into effect.

The focus of this article is on the changes to the physical residency criteria.

In particular, the length of time you are required to be physically present in Canada has been reduced, and some of the time an individual spent in Canada prior to becoming a Permanent Resident can now be counted towards that physical presence requirement.

This means that many individuals may be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship now, who may not have been eligible to make the application so soon under the old rules.

Let’s look at some important questions that the new physical residency criteria might raise for you.

How long do I have to be in Canada before I become eligible to make a citizenship application?

You must have been physically present in Canada for 3 years (1095 days) prior to making your application. This is the minimum amount of time that you need to have been physically present in Canada.

You can count time spent in Canada before becoming a Permanent Resident, but you can only use the 5 year period immediately before the date of the application.  The days before you became a Permanent Resident are not counted as whole days – they are counted as half days; so please keep that in mind if you want to use this time in your physical presence calculation.

What status must I have held throughout the eligibility period?

The eligibly period is the 5 years immediately before the date you apply to become a Canadian citizen. You must be a Permanent Resident on the date you make your application. If you want to count time spent in Canada before becoming a Permanent Resident then you must have held Immigration status as a temporary resident (visitor, student, worker or temporary resident permit holder) or as a protected person.

What if I have been away from Canada during the eligibility period?

Issues can arise where you have spent 183 days or more in 1 country (outside of Canada) in the last 4 years. If this has happened, then you will likely need to obtain a police certificate from that country to submit with your citizenship application. Our lawyers can assist you in making that calculation and will be able to advise you on the next steps.

So, are you ready to become a Canadian citizen? Our lawyers can help you navigate this important life question and get you moving on the final step towards Canadian citizenship.