Canadian citizenship is obtained automatically by being born in Canada, or by descent where a parent is a first-generation Canadian citizen. In the case of permanent residents, citizenship may be applied for after living in Canada for a specified residency period.
Permanent residents of Canada may apply for Canadian citizenship after residing in Canada for a minimum legally-specified period of time. This manner of obtaining citizenship is referred to as “naturalization”. The children of naturalized Canadian citizens will also automatically obtain citizenship even if they are born abroad.
Canada allows dual citizenship, so those permanent residents who obtain Canadian citizenship can also keep their original citizenship, provided that the laws of the other country also allow dual citizenship.
Applying for Citizenship – the Residency Requirement
Permanent residents of Canada who wish to apply for Canadian citizenship must first meet a residency requirement. The Citizenship Act requires that a permanent resident be physically present in Canada for at least three years in the five-year period before they apply. Time spent in Canada as a legal temporary resident prior to obtaining permanent residence will be counted as half time up to a maximum of 365 days within the five-year period. Also, the permanent resident must have filed an income tax return in Canada for at least three years within the five-year period, if required to do so under the Income Tax Act.
Knowledge of Canada Test
Those who have filed a citizenship application will be required to attend and pass a knowledge of Canada test. A permanent resident applying for citizenship who is under the age of 55 or over the age of 17 must show an adequate knowledge of Canada.
The knowledge test is based on the information in a government booklet called Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. This booklet will be provided to each citizenship applicant in advance of the test. It contains brief introductory information about the history of Canada and its social and political structure, etc. The test will be administered in writing and has 20 multiple-choice questions. The pass mark is 15 correct answers. If the applicant fails the test, he or she will be given an opportunity to re-write it. If the applicant fails again, they will be given an interview with a citizenship officer who will conduct the test once more orally.
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