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Are you eligible to become a Canadian citizen?

Over 85% of immigrants in Canada become citizens, making it one of the world’s highest rates.

It’s no surprise, then, that each year hundreds of thousands of permanent residents apply to become Canadian citizens.

In order to be eligible for Canadian citizenship, you must meet a number of requirements:

  • Be a long-term resident
  • Meet the physical presence requirements of Canada.
  • If necessary, file your taxes.
  • Demonstrate your language abilities.

Status as a Permanent Resident

If you want to apply for Canadian citizenship, you must be a permanent resident of Canada, regardless of your age. This means you are not under review for immigration reasons or fraud, are not subject to a removal order, and have unfulfilled conditions relating to your permanent resident status (e.g., you have not completed a medical screening). You do not need a valid PR card to apply for citizenship, and you can even apply if your PR card has expired.

The conditions for Canada’s physical presence

You must have been present physically in Canada for at least 1,095 days (three years) during the five years before the date you register your Canadian citizenship application. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) encourages you to apply with more than 1,095 days of living in Canada only in case there is an issue with your calculation.

Those who resided as temporary residents or meant to protect persons in Canada prior to becoming permanent residents can determine some of that time towards their citizenship requirements. Each day that you spent in Canada as a temporary resident or protected individual in the last five years counts as a half-day because once you calculate your physical presence. You can use a maximum of 365 days as a temporary resident or protected person toward your time in Canada, according to IRCC. Visitors, students, employees, and temporary residence permit holders are all examples of temporary residents. Protected persons are those who were found to be in need of protection or a convention refugee by the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) or who received a positive decision on a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment from IRCC
There are some exceptions to the rule that time spent outside of Canada does not count toward your physical presence requirements. 

If necessary, pay your taxes.

It’s possible that filing taxes in Canada for at least three years in the five years prior to applying for citizenship will be required.

Even if you only spent a portion of the year in Canada, you may be required to file a tax return if you:
  • Taxes for the year must be paid
  • Do you want a refund?
  • Do you want to get a benefit and a credit card?

Showcase your language abilities.

Those between the ages of 18 and 54 must also demonstrate that they can speak and listen in English or French at a certain level. This entails demonstrating that you can communicate at a level of 4 or higher on the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB). The IRCC evaluates your language skills in a variety of ways, including:

Examining the evidence you provide as part of your application
During the application procedure, take note of how successfully you communicate with citizenship officials.
If necessary, evaluating your language skills during a hearing with a citizenship authority.

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