Citizenship Grants: How to Become a Canadian Citizen (17:V)

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A. Grant of citizenship under s 5

Note: At the time of publication, the Canadian Government has already begun the process of changing the regulations such that the period having been physically present, the age maximum and minimum for demonstrating language ability and knowledge of Canada, and the number of years of tax filings required will be altered. Check the regulations and the IRCC website for the most current information on what is required for a grant of citizenship under section 5.

To be granted citizenship, applicants must meet the required qualifications (as set out in s 5(1) of the Citizenship Act). An applicant must:

  • make an application for citizenship,
  • have, since becoming a permanent resident, been physically present in Canada for at least 1460 days in the (6) years immediately before the date of submission of the application for citizenship,
    • Note: The Residence Calculator on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website is helpful but is not always accurate. It can only be a guideline to determining whether an individual has fulfilled the residency requirement, and if not, when the individual is eligible to apply for citizenship.
  • have an adequate knowledge of either English or French,
    • Note: If the individual is between the ages of 14 and 64, they are required to send proof of their ability to speak and listen in English or French in the citizenship application. Examples of acceptable documents that satisfy this requirement are the results of IRCC-approved third-party tests; transcripts or diploma from a secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, in Canada or abroad; evidence of achieving Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)/Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) level 4 or higher in certain government-funded language training programs. The full list of acceptable documents can be found on the IRCC website.
  • have an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, and
  • must not be under a prohibition (see [[Citizenship Grants: How to Become a Canadian Citizen (17:V)#C. Prohibitions (ss 19 & 22 of the Act)|C. Prohibitions]])

B. Resumption of citizenship, s 11

A person who was a Canadian citizen in the past, but who lost citizenship, may apply for a grant of citizenship (resumption) under s 11(1) of the Citizenship Act. A former Canadian citizen may resume citizenship if that person:

  • makes an application for resumption of citizenship,
  • was a citizen and lost citizenship by means other than revocation,
  • became a permanent resident after the loss of citizenship,
  • lived in Canada as a permanent resident for at least one year immediately before the application,
  • is not under a prohibition for certain criminal charges and convictions,
  • is not under a removal order (e.g. deportation), and
  • does not present a security risk.

Women who lost their citizenship by a law in force before January 1, 1947 because of their marriage or because their husband acquired foreign nationality can resume their citizenship as soon as they notifies the Minister of their intention and produce satisfactory evidence to prove they meet the requirements of s 11(2). The applicant should provide the reasons she wants another certificate of citizenship and should surrender all previous certificates either at the time of application or when she receives her new certificate. Where the applicant has lost or destroyed her certificate of naturalization or citizenship, she must provide the details of that loss or destruction.

C. Prohibitions (ss 19 & 22 of the Act)

Persons will not be granted citizenship under ss 5(1),(2) or (4) or 11(1) of the Citizenship Act, or take the oath of citizenship, if the person:

  • is under a probation order,
  • is a paroled inmate,
  • is serving a term of imprisonment
  • is charged with, on trial for, subject to, or a party to an appeal relating to an offence under the Citizenship Act or any indictable offence under any Act of Parliament, other than an offence that is designated as a contravention under the Contraventions Act, SC 1992, c 47 [Contraventions Act],
  • requires but has not obtained the consent of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, under s 52(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27 [Immigration and Refugee Protection Act], to be admitted to and remain in Canada as a permanent resident,
  • is under investigation by the Minister of Justice, the RCMP, or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or charged with, on trial for, a party to an appeal, or has been convicted of an act or omission referred to in s 7(3.71) of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c. C-46, (war crimes or crimes against humanity),
  • in the three year period immediately preceding the date of the citizenship application, or during the period between the date of the application and the date citizenship would be granted or the oath of citizenship would be recited, the person has been convicted of an offence under s 29(2) or (3) or of an indictable offence under any Act of Parliament, other than an offence that is designated as a contravention under the Contraventions Act, or
  • during the five years immediately preceding the citizenship application, ceased to be a citizen pursuant to s 10(1), where the Governor in Council was satisfied that the person has obtained, retained, renounced or resumed citizenship under the Citizenship Act by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances.

Time spent in a prison, on parole or on probation does not count towards fulfilling the residency requirement.

Additionally, citizenship will not be granted where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an applicant will engage in activity that:

  • constitutes a threat to the security of Canada, or
  • is part of a pattern of criminal activity planned and organized by a number of persons acting in concert to commit any offence that is punishable by indictment under any Act of Parliament.

Persons not approved for these reasons will have any applications or appeals rejected and this declaration will have effect for three years after the date on which it has been made.

D. Minors

With the 2017 Bill C-6 having received royal assent, minors can now apply for citizenship without a Canadian parent, as the age requirement for citizenship has been removed under subsection 5(1). A person having custody of the minor or empowered to act on their behalf by court order, written agreement or operation of law (s, 5(1.04)), can now apply for citizenship on behalf of the minor, unless that requirement is waived by the Minister (ss. 5(1.05) & 5(3)(b)(v)).

The four-year residency requirement does not apply to children under the age of 18. There is no residency requirement for children applying under s 5(2). Parents who are citizens may apply for citizenship for their child as soon as the child becomes a permanent resident (s 5(2)). Adoptive parents who are citizens may bypass the permanent residency requirement, and may make an application for citizenship on behalf of their child directly (s 5.1(1)). However, in order to do so the adoption must “create a genuine relationship of parent and child”. Additionally, this direct route to citizenship is not available beyond the first generation of Canadians born or adopted abroad (i.e. the parents must derive their own citizenship by being born in Canada or through naturalization).

Children are not required to write the citizenship test, but children who are 14 and over are required to take the oath. If a child turns 18 before the end of the application process, he or she cannot be granted citizenship as a minor, even though they were under the age of 18 at the time of application. They must submit an adult application of citizenship. Stateless applicants under s 5(5) have until age 23 to complete the application process.

E. Special cases

In some cases, the Minister may, at his or her discretion, waive on compassionate grounds (s 5(3)),

  • the requirements of language and knowledge of Canada or of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, and
  • the requirement to take the oath, in the case of any person who is prevented from understanding the significance of taking the oath of citizenship by reason of mental disability.

Section 5(3.1) requires that for the purpose of section 5, if an applicant for citizenship is a disabled person, the Minister to take into consideration the measures that are reasonable to accommodate the needs of that person.

Section 5(4) allows the Governor in Council, in his or her discretion, to direct the Minister to grant citizenship to any person in order to alleviate cases of unusual hardship or to reward service of exceptional value to Canada, notwithstanding any other requirements under the Act. The relevant policy guideline ofImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada can be found at this website: www.cic.gc.ca/english/resources/manuals/index.asp. Exceptions are granted so it is always worth considering this. The policy guideline is vital in this consideration.


© Copyright 2017, The Greater Vancouver Law Students' Legal Advice Society.


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