Citizenship Application Lawyer on Becoming a Canadian

How a Citizenship Lawyer Can Help Prepare Your Application

AKM Law practices exclusively in Immigration Law and has helped countless individuals apply for citizenship. Our experienced citizenship lawyers are familiar with the requirements of the Citizenship Act and will ensure that you submit a compelling application. We will also assist you in developing a strategy to ensure that your application is processed as seamlessly as possible to avoid delays. AKM Law is also experienced with handling complex citizenship applications and represented clients in their Canadian citizenship appeals. This article will explain the main requirements to apply for citizenship and the most common issues that arise once an application is submitted.

How to Become a Canadian

There are three methods to obtain Canadian citizenship. First, those born on Canadian soil are usually eligible to obtain a Canadian passport by birth. Second, generation born abroad to Canadian citizens can be passed down citizenship. Finally, permanent residents who have met the eligibility requirements may apply for citizenship through the process of naturalization.

Citizenship Applications - AKM Law - Toronto Immigration Law Firm
Citizenship Applications | AKM Law | Toronto Immigration Law Firm

Citizenship by Birth

As a general rule, persons born in Canada to Canadian parents obtain citizenship by birth. The main exception of this rule applies to children born in Canada to foreign diplomats, or to an employee of the United Nations.

Citizenship from Parents

An individual either born in Canada or abroad is a Canadian citizen in the following circumstances:

  • The person was born abroad; AND

  • At the time of birth, at least one legal parent was a Canadian citizen.

A legal parent can be a biological or non-biological parent of children as long as the parent is listed on the birth certificate or the government record of birth of the child. If the parent becomes a citizen after the birth of the child, the child cannot acquire citizenship through this method.

Applying for Citizenship Process through Naturalization

In addition to acquiring status in Canada through birth or from parents, a permanent resident may apply to become a Canadian citizen through the process of naturalization. All the following criteria must be met to be eligible for citizenship.

1.      Be a Permanent Resident

Regardless of age, applicants must be a permanent resident of Canada. Applicants who are subject to any of the following are not eligible to apply:

  • An investigation into immigration fraud or misrepresentation;

  • A removal order;

  • Unfulfilled conditions related to this status (eg: medical screening).

A valid permanent residency card is not required to apply for citizenship.

2.      Live in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the past 5 years

Applicants are required to live in Canada for at least 1,095 days (3 years) in the past 5 years before getting a status in Canada. The three-year calculation begins after the applicant becomes a permanent resident. Some time before may count in some circumstances. The general residency rules can be summarized as follows:

  • The five-year period calculated begins immediately before the date your application was submitted;

  • Each day spent in Canada as a permanent resident counts as one day;

  • Each day spent in Canada as an authorized temporary resident, or a protected Canadian citizen counts as half a day (for a maximum of 365 days)

  • Time spent outside of Canada as a crown servant can be counted towards the residence requirement.

It is recommended to exceed the minimum requirement as a precautionary measure.

3.      File Income Taxes for the Past 3 Years

Applicant must have filed their income taxes for the past three years before filling out Canadian citizenship applications.

4.      Demonstrate Proficiency in either English or French

Applicants between the ages of 18 to 54 on the day of submitting the application need to demonstrate adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s two official languages. This means that language test show the applicant can hold a basic conversation in English or French, use basic grammar, and express himself/herself. Language proficiency must meet level 4 of the following tests:

  • Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) for English, or

  • Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) for French.

Language skills are assessed by the language official during the citizenship test and when talking to a citizenship official anytime during the application process. An applicant may also submit certificates, diplomas and tests as proof of language skills.

5.      Pass the Citizenship Test

A citizenship test must be completed by applicants aged between 18 and 54 on the day of their application. The test contains questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizens and Canada’s history, geography, economy, laws and symbols.

6.      Take the Oath of Citizenship

Before becoming a citizen, applicants over the age of 14 must take an oath of citizenship.

Prohibitions for Applying for Canadian Citizenship

The Citizenship Act does not allow an individual to apply for citizenship if any of the following circumstances apply :

  • A person who is serving a prison term in Canada or Outside of Canada;

  • A person who is on parole or probation;

  • A person charged with, on trial, or involved in an appeal for an offence under the Citizenship Act or an indictable offence;

  • A person charged with, on trial, or involved in an appeal an offence committed outside of Canada that is equivalent to an indictable offence in Canada;

  • A person under a removal order;

  • A person investigated for war crimes or crimes against humanity;

  • A person who had a previous application refused for misrepresentation in the past 5 years;

  • A person who had his/her Canadian Citizenship revoked due to fraud in the past 1years;

  • A person convicted of an indictable offence in Canada 4 years before applying;

  • A person convicted of an offence outside of Canada that is equivalent to an indictable offence in Canada 4 years before applying;

  • A permanent resident convicted of terrorism, high treason, treason or spying;

  • A resident serving as a member of an armed force for a country that is engaged in an armed conflict with Canada.

Special Considerations for Minor Applicants

Minors applying for permanent residency do not have the same requirements as adults. The oath of citizenship is not required for minors under the age of 14. Minors are also not required to meet the language requirement or pass the citizenship test. Furthermore, a minor whose parent is a citizen or who is a dependent on a parent’s application does not need to meet the 3-year residency requirement. However, a minor applying alone still has to meet this requirement.

Benefits of Becoming a Canadian Citizen

Citizenship is often the final goal for immigrants who seek to live in Canada permanently. It provides additional rights and privileges not granted to permanent residents. Namely, citizens have the right to vote in elections and run for public office. Citizens are also able to apply for a Canadian passport. Furthermore, unlike permanent residents, there are no residency requirements or other obligations required to maintain Canadian Citizenship. Barring fraud or misrepresentation in the application process, citizenship cannot be taken away once granted.

The Main Cause of Delays in Immigration Applications

When processing citizenship applications, the immigration authorities might raise specific concerns and give the applicant a chance to respond to the concerns in the form of a procedural fairness letter. To adequately address the concerns raised, it is important to submit a detailed, and accurate response. If the authorities are not satisfied with the response, the citizenship application risks being refused. The most common procedural fairness letters pertain to proof of residency and misrepresentation.

1.      Proof of Residency

If there is any doubt or concern that the applicant has not met the residency requirement for the citizenship application, the citizenship authorities may request additional proof of permanent residency in Canada. Such proof of residency is common for individuals who travel frequently. Our firm can assist you in preparing the proper documentation to demonstrate your presence in Canada.

2.      Misrepresentation

If the citizenship authorities believe that you have made any material misrepresentation in your application, they may issue a procedural fairness letter to respond to their concerns. A finding of misrepresentation can have serious consequences on an application resulting in refusal of citizenship certificate. Furthermore, an applicant may be barred from applying for citizenship for 5 years. As such, it is imperative to provide a strong response and address the concerns raised.

3.      Criminality

If you have been charged or convicted of an indictable offence inside Canada or outside Canada you may not be eligible to apply for Citizenship until certain criteria have been met. If you are currently charged with an offence inside Canada you may still be able to apply for Canadian citizenship, but there will be a delay in the processing of your application until the matter is resolved, resulting in the continuation of your Citizenship application or the possibility of removing or PR status, if you are convicted of serious criminality.

Application Refused? We Can Help

Our team of experienced citizenship lawyers can represent you in your citizenship appeal. Citizenship appeals must be filed at the Federal Court of Canada within 60 days of receiving a refusal. Immigration law lawyer at AKM Law will put forward strong legal arguments and grounds for appeal arguing that your case should reopened for redetermination.

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