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Canadian Citizenship: All You Need to Know

Updated: 25 April 2023

Canada boasts stunning natural beauty, an abundance of natural resources, and a reputation for being one of the friendliest countries in the world. But what really sets Canada apart is its commitment to welcoming immigrants from all corners of the globe and providing them with a path to Canadian citizenship. Canadian citizenship is a dream for many, offering a wealth of benefits, from healthcare and education to the right to vote and access to job opportunities. 

This article will explore the various aspects of Canadian citizenship, from the application process and requirements to the responsibilities and privileges that come with it. Whether you’re a newcomer to Canada or a longtime resident looking to take the next step, this guide will provide you with all the information you need on how to become a Canadian citizen and part of the vibrant and diverse community in Canada.

Benefits of Canadian Citizenship

Canadian citizenship is a coveted status for many individuals around the world, offering numerous advantages. From access to healthcare and education to the right to vote and run for office, Canadian citizenship provides a multitude of benefits that can significantly enhance one’s quality of life. Find below just a few of the many advantages that come with becoming a Canadian citizen:

  • Freedom to travel: Canadian passport is a powerful asset that allows citizens to travel to over 180 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival, making it one of the most powerful passports in the world.
  • Right to vote: Canadian citizens have the right to vote in federal, provincial, and municipal elections, giving them a say in shaping the future of their communities and country.
  • Access to healthcare: Canadian citizens have access to free or subsidized healthcare through the publicly funded healthcare system, ensuring that they can receive necessary medical care without facing financial hardships.
  • Ability to sponsor family members: Canadian citizens can sponsor their eligible family members to come to Canada and become permanent residents or citizens, allowing them to reunite with their loved ones.
  • Education opportunities: Canadian citizens have access to high-quality education at all levels, from elementary school to post-secondary institutions, with many scholarships and funding options available to help cover the costs.
  • Job opportunities: Canadian citizens have access to a wide range of job opportunities and can work in any industry or sector, giving them the freedom to pursue their career goals and aspirations.
  • Safety and security: Canada is known for its low crime rates, stable political climate, and commitment to social justice, providing citizens with a safe and secure environment to live and raise their families.

These are just a few of the many benefits that come with Canadian citizenship. With its welcoming and inclusive culture, vibrant cities, and stunning natural landscapes, Canada is truly a land of opportunity, and obtaining Canadian citizenship status is the first step towards unlocking its full potential.

How to Get Canadian Citizenship: Main Routes

Whether you are seeking permanent residence or citizenship in Canada, there are several routes you can take to achieve your goal. Each of these routes has different requirements, and it is of great importance to choose the one that best suits your unique circumstances. This section of the article will explore the main routes to obtaining Canadian citizenship, including naturalization, family sponsorship, and economic programs.

Canadian Citizenship by Birth

Canada is among the select few countries in the world that still adhere to the concept of jus soli, a Latin term meaning the right of soil. As per this principle, anyone born on Canadian soil is conferred with the title of a Canadian citizen by birth. This is also commonly referred to as birthright citizenship and is a unique feature of Canadian citizenship laws. The country prides itself on this inclusive and welcoming approach toward citizenship, which has become integral to its cultural and social identity for generations.

To obtain Canadian citizenship by birth, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be born in Canadian territory
  • Not having been born to foreign diplomats or other individuals who are exempt from Canadian law

Canadian Citizenship by Descent

Canadian citizenship by descent is available to individuals who were born outside of Canada to at least one parent who is a Canadian citizen. To be eligible for Canadian citizenship by descent, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • At least one parent must have been a Canadian citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth
  • The applicant must provide proof of their parent’s Canadian citizenship
  • The applicant must not have given up their Canadian citizenship before
  • The applicant must meet any additional requirements for citizenship applications, such as language proficiency and criminal record checks

Canadian citizenship by descent does not allow individuals to inherit citizenship from the second generation; the right to obtain citizenship by ancestry in Canada is limited to parents. 

Canadian Citizenship by Naturalization

Canadian citizenship by naturalization is a process that allows eligible permanent residents of Canada to become Canadian citizens. To be eligible, applicants must meet certain criteria, including language requirements, residency and stay requirements, and passing a citizenship test. The process requires submitting various documents, including proof of permanent resident status, tax documents, and language proficiency certificates. Once the application is submitted, the processing time is usually around 12 months.

Permanent Resident Status Requirement

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship by naturalization, regardless of age, applicants must have permanent resident status in Canada. This means they must not be under review for immigration or fraud reasons, be subject to a removal order, or have unfulfilled conditions related to their PR status such as medical screening. It is recommended that applicants review the documents they received when they became permanent residents to ensure eligibility. A valid PR card is not required to apply for citizenship; an expired card can be used for the application.

Stay Requirements

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship by naturalization, applicants must be physically present in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) during the last five years prior to the date of their application.

Quick Tips

1# Include time spent in Canada as a temporary resident or protected person in their residency calculation.

2# Include time spent outside Canada as a Crown servant or a family member of one in their residency calculation.

3# Include more than 1,095 days of residency in their calculation to account for potential calculation errors.

Language Requirements

As Canada has two official languages – English and French, it is crucial that anyone aged 18 to 54 years seeking citizenship can demonstrate a certain level of fluency in one of these languages. The Canadian government uses various means to assess your proficiency in English or French, including reviewing documents you provide, evaluating your communication with citizenship officials, and conducting a language assessment if needed.

The language requirements to be eligible for Canadian citizenship include meeting the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) Level 4 or higher.

  • Achieving CLB Level 4 indicates that you can engage in everyday conversations, comprehend simple instructions, and utilize basic grammar and vocabulary.
  • You can provide proof of your language skills through various certificates, diplomas, and tests that are accepted by the authorities.

Citizenship Test Requirement

When applying for Canadian citizenship, individuals aged 18 to 54 are required to take the citizenship test, which evaluates their knowledge of Canada’s history, rights, and responsibilities. The test typically consists of 20 multiple-choice questions, 15 of which the applicant must respond correctly, and is taken in either English or French. Some questions may pertain to the applicant’s province or territory of residence, making it crucial to study the material thoroughly. 

Those who have difficulty with the test due to language or accessibility barriers may be exempted or accommodated. The test is an essential step in the citizenship application process and ensures that all new citizens have a foundational understanding of Canadian values and laws.

Tax Requirements

To be eligible for Canadian citizenship by naturalization, You may be required to have your taxes filed in Canada for a minimum of three years within the five years leading up to the date of your application. You can check with the relevant institutions if you are required to take such an action. 

How to Move to Canada: Canadian Citizenship by Investment

Canada does not have any direct citizenship by investment programs, but the country offers other pathways for individuals to obtain citizenship. One such pathway is the Startup Visa program, which allows foreign entrepreneurs to start a business in Canada and obtain a residency permit. Another similar route is the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program.

Quebec Immigrant Investor Program

The Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP) is a program that allows qualified individuals and their families to immigrate to Canada by investing a minimum of C$1.2 million in a government-approved investment fund. The program is designed to attract experienced business people and investors who can contribute to the economic development of Quebec. Successful applicants and their families are granted Canadian permanent residency and can eventually apply for Canadian citizenship. 

The following are the eligibility criteria the applicants must meet to qualify for the Quebec Immigrant Investor program:

  • A minimum net worth of C$2,000,000, legally acquired through business, investment, or employment.
  • A minimum investment of C$1,200,000, made through an approved financial intermediary.
  • At least two years of management experience within the past five years in a profitable business or government agency.
  • A passing score on the French language test at an advanced intermediate level.
  • Intention to settle in the province of Quebec.
  • No criminal record or other legal issues that would prevent entry to Canada.
  • Good health and proof of medical examination.
  • Willingness to complete an exploratory visit to Quebec before applying.

The required documents to apply for the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program include the following:

  1. A valid passport
  2. A birth certificate
  3. A marriage certificate, if applicable
  4. Educational diplomas and transcripts
  5. Proof of business experience
  6. A police certificate from each country where the applicant has lived for more than six months
  7. A medical examination
  8. Proof of fulfillment of the required investment funds 
  9. A signed declaration of intent to settle in Quebec.

It is important to note that specific document requirements may vary based on an individual’s personal circumstances and may require additional documentation. It is recommended to consult with an immigration lawyer or accredited representative for guidance throughout the application process.

Please note that the program is currently paused until April 2023, and it is unclear what the future holds for the program.

Canada Startup Visa Program

The Canada Startup Visa program is designed for entrepreneurs who have the skills and potential to build innovative businesses in Canada. and hence, contribute to the country’s economy.

This type of residency permit can eventually lead to Canadian citizenship by naturalization, provided that the applicant meets the requirements set by the Canadian government. Therefore, the Startup Visa program is an excellent option for individuals who want to obtain Canadian citizenship through entrepreneurship and investment in the country’s economy. 

Applicants must meet the following requirements to become eligible for the program:

  1. Have a qualifying business: The business must be innovative, create jobs in Canada, and have the potential for growth and international success.
  2. Get a letter of support: Applicants must get a letter of support from a designated Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator.
  3. Meet language requirements: Applicants must prove their proficiency in English or French by taking an approved language test.
  4. Have enough funds: Applicants must have enough money to support themselves and their family members while they establish their business in Canada.
  5. Pass security and medical exams: Applicants must pass security and medical exams to show that they are admissible to Canada.
  6. Have a minimum of one year of post-secondary education.

Canada Startup Visa: Incubators and Investment Requirements

The Canadian government places a high priority on the potential profitability of your business as a Startup Visa applicant. By being accepted into a Canadian incubator program, you can demonstrate that a reputable organization believes in your project.

There is a difference between obtaining support from a business incubator versus an angel investor group or venture capital funds, as the former does not require any financial investment. In contrast, if you receive support from a venture capital fund, a minimum investment of C$200,000 is required, while an angel investor group requires a minimum investment of C$750,00. Nevertheless, when applying for the Canada Startup Visa through an incubator, no financial investment is necessary, and the incubator only needs to confirm your acceptance into their accelerator program to complete the process.

How to Apply for a Canadian Passport

The Canadian passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world, allowing Canadian citizens to travel to over 180 countries without a visa. To apply for a Canadian passport, you must meet certain eligibility criteria, follow a few steps, and provide specific documents.


  • You must be a Canadian citizen
  • You must not be under any form of travel restrictions

Application Steps:

1. Fill out the application form online or in person at a passport office.

2. Pay the required fee. 

3.Submit the application along with the supporting documents.

4. Wait for processing, which typically takes 20 business days for a standard application or 10 business days for an urgent application.

Required Documents:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship (birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or certificate of registration of birth abroad)
  • Two identical passport photos
  • Current passport or travel document (if applicable)
  • Any applicable supporting documents (marriage certificate, legal name change certificate, etc.)

Applying for a Canadian passport is a straightforward process that can be completed online or in person at a passport office. However, through such brief a process, a Canada passport brings you access to hassle-free travel to many countries around the world.

How to Get Canadian Citizenship: The Bottom Line

The bottom line is: Canadian citizenship is highly desirable due to its numerous advantages, such as access to social services, healthcare, education, and unrestricted work and residency in Canada. The different routes to Canadian citizenship include naturalization, citizenship by descent, and the Startup Visa program, but all require meeting specific eligibility criteria, including language proficiency and fulfilling residency requirements. 

Once they obtain Canadian citizenship, individuals can apply for a Canadian passport, which is considered one of the most powerful in the world, with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to over 185 countries. Overall, Canadian citizenship and passport are valuable assets with a wide range of benefits, making them a worthwhile pursuit for those seeking to live, work, or travel globally.

How can I become a Canadian citizen?

There are several ways to obtain Canadian citizenship, including through naturalization, birth or descent, and the Express Entry or the Startup Visa programs. Each route has its own eligibility criteria and requirements.

Can I obtain Canadian citizenship by investment?

Canada does not have any direct citizenship by investment program. However, programs such as the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program and the Startup Visa grant investors and entrepreneurs permanent residency, which can eventually lead to citizenship by naturalization.

What are the benefits of Canadian citizenship?

Canadian citizenship offers a range of benefits, including access to social services, healthcare, education, and the ability to live and work in Canada without restrictions. Canadian passport holders also enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to over 185 countries.

How can I apply for a Canadian passport?

To apply for a Canadian passport, you need to fill out an application form, provide supporting documents, and pay the fee. You can apply in person at a passport office or by mail.

What is the process to move to Canada from the US?

The process to move to Canada from the US depends on your individual circumstances. However, in general, you need to obtain a visa or permanent residency status, fulfill language and education requirements, and pass a medical and security examination.

Is there a Canada citizenship test?

Yes, there is a Canadian citizenship test that applicants need to pass to become citizens. The test covers Canadian history, government, rights and responsibilities, and more.

What is the investment visa Canada?

Canada offers several investment visa programs, including the Startup Visa program and the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program. These programs allow foreign investors to obtain permanent residency in Canada by investing in a business or government-approved fund.

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