How to Apply for a Canadian Citizenship as an American?
Becoming a Canadian Citizen when you’re already a US citizen.
Becoming a Canadian citizen might be on your mind for quite a few reasons, whether it’s the universal healthcare or perhaps you’re drawn to a society that takes off work for hockey games. Whatever your reasons, you probably have a lot of questions.
First off, why become a Canadian citizen? Beyond the perk of no longer having to renew a visa or permanent resident card, there are some solid benefits like voting in elections or running for office, access to Canadian passports, and the unrestricted ability to work or study anywhere in Canada.
But what do you need to do to get there? Here are some general pointers for eligibility and application:
- Eligibility: You need to be a permanent resident, not under removal order or a federal review for fraud, and have lived in Canada for at least 1,095 days within the last five years.
- Application Process: Submit your application with all the required documents and fees, complete a citizenship test, and attend a citizenship ceremony if you’re approved.
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Citizenship Eligibility Criteria
Let’s talk about the basics. You’ll need to have permanent resident status, and certain residency requirements must be met. The general rule is that you need to have lived in Canada for at least 1,095 days within the last five years before applying. And unfortunately, time spent on a work or study visa doesn’t count toward this.
Next, language proficiency is a must if you’re aged between 18 and 54. You’ll need to prove you have strong listening and speaking skills in English or French. You also need a general understanding of Canadian social protocols, history, symbols, and governance.
Here are some of the key eligibility requirements for you:
- Permanent Resident Status: Should be in good standing and should not be under a removal order.
- Residency Requirements: A minimum of 1,095 days in Canada within the last five years.
- Language Skills: You must be proficient in either English or French if you’re between 18 and 54.
- Knowledge of Canada: Be prepared to take a test on Canadian history, values, institutions, and symbols if you’re 18 to 54.
After you’ve gathered all your documents and paid the required fees, you’ll submit your application. If everything looks good, you’ll be invited to take the citizenship test. Pass this, and you’re nearly there. The last step is attending a citizenship ceremony, where you’ll take the oath of citizenship. After this, you can finally call yourself a Canadian!
Application Process and Forms
Here’s a quick rundown of the general documents you’ll need:
- A completed citizenship application form
- Copies of your passport or other travel documents
- Language proof (English or French)
- Two citizenship photos following specific requirements
- Copies of your PR Card or immigration documents
Now, how do you ensure your application isn’t just tossed into the “incomplete” pile? Attention to detail is your best friend; double-check, even triple-check, every section of your application form. Make sure you’ve attached all the required documents, and that they’re up-to-date. A simple oversight could set you back months.
Application Fees and Payment
The cost of applying for Canadian citizenship generally hovers around CAD 630 for adults and CAD 100 for minors. But what if you’re in a financial pinch? Are there options? Yes, fee waivers are available for those who can prove financial hardship.
As for payment methods, you can pay via credit card, debit card, or even through a certified Canadian bank. Just make sure you get a receipt; you’ll need it for your records and as proof of payment.
What’s next? Patience; the application process can take several months, even up to a year. Use this time wisely—perhaps brush up on your Canadian history to prepare for the citizenship test.
Canadian Citizenship Test
So, you’ve filled out forms, paid fees, and waited. What’s next? The citizenship test, a rite of passage for aspiring Canadians. But what exactly is it? The test is a written or oral examination that quizzes you on Canadian history, values, institutions, and symbols. You’ll need to study materials provided by the Canadian government, such as the “Discover Canada” guide, to ace this test.
But how do you prepare? Take time to understand Canadian history and governance. There are also online practice tests to gauge your readiness. And if you’re over 55 or under 18, you’re exempt from taking the test.
Citizenship Ceremony and Oath
The Citizenship Ceremony is more than just a formality; it’s a celebration of your new identity. So, what should you expect? You’ll be taking the Oath of Citizenship, a solemn vow to faithfully observe Canada’s laws while fulfilling your duties as a Canadian citizen.
But is it just about reciting words? Far from it. The Oath is a symbolic yet deeply meaningful act. It’s the culmination of your journey—a moment where you officially become part of the Canadian family.
Applying for a Canadian Passport
How do you get your hands on your Canadian passport? You’ll need to complete the Adult General Passport Application form. Make sure you’ve got the following essentials:
- Proof of Canadian citizenship (a certificate or card)
- Two identical passport photos
- A guarantor’s signature
- Any valid identification that shows your name, date of birth, and signature
And what’s the damage to your wallet? It’s CAD 120 for a 5-year passport and CAD 160 for a 10-year passport. Payment methods are pretty flexible—credit and debit cards, certified checks, and even money orders are accepted.
Minors Applying for Citizenship
What if you’ve got a minor who’s also eager to become a Canadian? Here’s what you need to know:
- Must be under 18 years old
- At least one parent must already be a Canadian citizen or be applying for citizenship at the same time
You’ll also need to fill out a different form known as the “Citizenship Application for a Minor.” It’s important to know that special considerations include providing school records or a letter from the school, and if applicable, custody agreements.
Additionally, the application fee for minors is lower, at around CAD 100. And don’t forget, minors don’t have to take the citizenship test, but they do need to attend the ceremony.
Dual Citizenship and Canadian Citizenship
Now that you’ve got your eyes on becoming a Canadian citizen, what happens to your original citizenship? The good news is that both the U.S. and Canada allow dual citizenship. You can be both a proud American and a Canadian.
But is it all smooth sailing? Not quite. Dual citizenship comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, you’ll be subject to the laws and obligations of both countries. Ever heard of the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)? If you’re a U.S. citizen living in Canada, you’ll still need to file U.S. taxes. And let’s not forget about potential military service obligations or issues that could arise when traveling with two different passports.
Failed Applications and Appeals
Now, let’s talk about a possible situation: what if your application for Canadian citizenship is denied? It’s a disheartening scenario, but it’s not the end of the world. Common reasons for refusal include incomplete applications, failure to meet residency requirements, or issues with your criminal record. So, what’s your next move?
You have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days of receiving the refusal letter. The appeal process involves presenting your case before the Federal Court of Canada. It’s a rigorous process, and you’ll need to arm yourself with compelling evidence to overturn the initial decision. At this point, legal representation is highly recommended.
The information provided herein is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. While we aim to provide helpful and accurate information, we make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained here or linked to from this material.
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