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Becoming a Canadian Citizen

Under the provisions set out by Canada's Citizenship Act, people are automatically considered Canadian citizens if one of two conditions are met:

  1. being born in Canada automatically entitles people to Canadian citizenship; and
  2. people born outside of Canada after 14 February 1977 to Canadian citizens are also considered citizens.
St. Vincent settlers

Newcomers to Canada don’t have Canadian citizenship, but for many, it is the ultimate goal of immigration. The Canadian government welcomes immigrants to apply for citizenship and has established a process for applying as well as conditions that must be met. According to the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Department website, people must:

  • be 18 years of age or older;
  • be a permanent resident of Canada;
  • have lived in Canada for at least three of the four years before applying;
  • be able to communicate in either English or French;
  • know about Canada; and
  • know about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Children under the age of 18 can also become citizens. Parents who are Canadian citizens can apply on their children’s behalf or an immigrant family can apply as a unit for citizenship.

Not everyone can become a Canadian citizen, however. Government legislation, as outlined on the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Department website, prevents people from becoming citizens if they:

  • are under a removal order;
  • are now charged with an indictable criminal offence;
  • have been convicted of an indictable criminal offence in the past three years;
  • are now in prison, on parole, or on probation;
  • are being investigated for or have been convicted of war crimes; or
  • had their citizenship revoked in the last five years.

If immigrants meet the required criteria and wish to become Canadian citizens, there is a series of steps they must take to complete this process. The first step is to fill out an application form. The form asks for information about the applicant, including the applicant’s:

  • preference to communicate in English or French;
  • date of birth;
  • Canadian citizenship application history;
  • marital status;
  • citizenship status with any other country;
  • length of residence in Canada; and
  • place of residence for the past four years.

The Application for Canadian Citizenship is available online or can be ordered over the phone or through the mail. There is a separate form for children under eighteen. Once the form has been completed, it must be sent to the Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Along with the completed form, applicants must include: a photograph, an application fee of $200, and photocopies of documents, such as marriage licences or Canadian immigration papers.

  • the right to vote in elections in Canada
  • the right to run for elected office
  • voting procedures in Canada and how to register yourself as a voter
  • Canada’s main historical and geographical features
  • the rights and responsibilities of a citizen
  • the structure of Canadian government
  • Confederation

More information on the types of questions asked as part of the citizenship test can be found on the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Department website.

In addition, questions based on the province and city where the applicant is writing the test may also be asked. These local questions might include knowledge of the names of the Mayor, Premier, Lieutenant Governor, capital city, or natural resources of the region.

Receiving Canadian Citizenship

Following the test, a citizenship judge may interview applicants for fifteen to thirty minutes. The judge's questions will be based on the same material as in the citizenship test. In addition, applicants will be asked to demonstrate their knowledge of either English or French by following instructions, carrying on a conversation, or filling out a form.

Once applicants have passed their test, the final step to becoming a Canadian citizen is to attend a citizenship ceremony. At the ceremony, applicants take the Oath of Citizenship, sing O Canada, and receive a certificate.

Albertasource Website Resources

Nature's Law: Constitutional rights and responsibilities
Alberta Politics: Citizenship
Alberta Politics: Voting Rights
In Memory of Francophone Alberta

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