Here are the criteria of becoming a lawful Canadian citizen:

  • Be a permanent resident.
  • Have lived in Canada for 3 years out of the last 5 years.
  • Have filed your taxes, if you need to.
  • Pass a test on your rights, responsibilities and knowledge of Canada.
  • Prove your language skills (either in French or English).

Note that there are situations that can prevent you from becoming a Canadian citizen.

Please be advised that there are additional or different requirements if you are:

  • applying for a minor (any individuals under the age of 18)
  • a Canadian applying for your adopted child born outside Canada.
  • A current or former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member applying under the fast-track process.
  • A past Canadian citizen who wants your Canadian citizenship back (including current and former CAF members)

Spouses of Canadian citizens

When you marry a Canadian, you don’t automatically become a Canadian citizen.

You must meet the same requirements listed above if you are the spouse of a Canadian citizen. There are no exceptions.

Children and grandchildren of Canadian citizens

You may be a Canadian citizen if you have a Canadian parent or grandparent.

  • Check this list here to see if you maybe a Canadian citizen:
  • were born in Canada
  • became a citizen because of changes to the Citizenship Act
  • applied for and received your Canadian citizenship (became a naturalized citizen)
  • received Canadian citizenship as a minor when a parent or legal guardian naturalized you by applying for your citizenship.Were born outside Canada and at least one of your parents was:
    • born in Canada
    • naturalized in Canada before your birth
  • Apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate to find out for sure.

Permanent resident status

If you’re applying for citizenship, you must have permanent resident (PR) status in Canada regardless of your age.

This means that you must not:

  • be under review for immigration for fraud reasons
  • be asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada (removal order)
  • have unfulfilled conditions related to your PR status, for instance: medical screening

You should review the documents you received when you became a permanent resident to ensure that you’re eligible before applying for Canadian citizenship.

You don’t need a valid PR card to apply for citizenship. You can apply with an expired PR card.

Right before the date you sign your application, adults and some minors must have been physically present in Canada for at least 1095 days during the five years.

Canada encourages you to apply with more than 1095 days of physical present so that you have extra days in case there is a problem with the calculation.
Using travel journal to record your trips outside Canada will help you calculate your physical presence in Canada.

You could use some of your time spent in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person towards your physical presence calculation. Crown servants and family members of Crown servants could use time spend outside Canada.

Filing income tax

Right before the date, you apply for citizenship, you may need to file taxes in Canada for at least 3 years during the 5 years.

Language skills

English and French are two official languages of Canada. You must show that you can speak and listen at a specific level in one of the languages if you are between the age of 18 to 54 on the day you sign your application.

Here are the ways Canada measures your language skills in English or French:

  • reviewing the evidence that you send with your application.
  • noting your communication ability when you talk to a citizenship official anytime during the process.
  • Assessing your language level during a hearing with a citizenship official, if necessary.

You must meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher in order to become a citizen. This means that you have to:

  • participate in short, everyday conversations about common topics
  • understand simple instructions, questions, and directions
  • demonstrate your knowledge of common words and phrases to answer questions and express yourself.

Canada accepts a variety of certificates, diplomas, and tests as proof of your language skills.

Pass a test on your rights, responsibilities, and knowledge of Canada

You need to take the citizenship test if you are between the age of 18 to 54 on the day you sign your application. You’ll be required to answer questions about the rights and responsibilities of Canadians and Canada’s:

  • history
  • geography
  • economy
  • government
  • laws
  • symbols

The test is:

  • in English or French
  • 30 minutes long
  • 20 questions (pass mark: 15 correct answers)
  • Multiple-choice and true or false questions
  • Discover Canada – based on the official citizenship study guide
  • Usually written, buy may be oral


You may not be eligible to become a Canadian citizen for a period of time if you committed a crime in or outside Canada. Also, it’s critical to note that the time spent serving a term of imprisonment, on parole, or on probation doesn’t count as time you’ve lived in Canada.

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