Becoming a citizen in Canada can benefit both immigrants and their host country in many ways.
Compared to major Western countries, Canada has one of the highest percentages of immigrants who obtain citizenship.
Citizenship refers to a person’s legal status. Canadian citizenship can be obtained either by birth or by a process called “naturalization”.
Immigrants who come and settle in Canada and meet certain criteria may be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship by naturalization. Being granted Canadian citizenship is the final step in the immigration process for many immigrants. It is a key indicator of successful integration and gives immigrants the opportunity to vote, enter politics and improves employment opportunities.
Canadian citizenship has many benefits
By becoming Canadian citizens, people gain the right to participate in Canadian politics. This right can take the form of participation in federal, provincial and municipal elections as a voter. It can also mean running for election or participating in the management of the different levels of government that exist in Canada.
Becoming a Canadian citizen also provides access to a number of jobs that require a high level of security, such as jobs at the federal level.
In addition, Canadian law allows for dual or multiple citizenships. This means that once a person becomes a Canadian citizen, they do not have to choose between their new citizenship and that of their country of origin.
As well, children born in Canada to parents who are Canadian citizens become Canadian citizens without having to go through an application process.
Finally, Canadian citizens hold a passport, which makes it easier for them to travel to many countries without a visa and makes it simpler to obtain visas if necessary. A passport also reduces the risk of encountering problems when entering Canada.
Who is eligible for Canadian citizenship?
There are various eligibility criteria that an individual must meet in order to apply for Canadian citizenship:
- They must have Canadian permanent resident status;
- They must have lived in Canada for at least three years (or for at least 1,095 days) out of the past five years before applying;
- They must be able to speak either one or both of Canada’s two official languages (English or French) well enough to communicate in Canadian society;
- They cannot have a criminal history considered prohibitive to granting Canadian citizenship; and
- They must pass a test to prove they are aware of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and have a basic knowledge of Canada’s geography, political system, and history.
The Government requests that documents be provided as evidence to support the above eligibility criteria. After that, one of the most important steps is to take a citizenship test and pass a citizenship interview, both of which usually takes place after an application is submitted.
The majority of eligible immigrants become citizens
Canada recognizes the importance of immigrants and relies significantly on immigration to develop its economy and strengthen its social fabric.
It provides strong settlement services to immigrants selected for permanent residence that promote their participation in all aspects of Canadian society, which contributes to their success and to their transition to Canadian citizenship.
At the same time, when naturalized immigrants are compared to non-naturalized immigrants who are permanent residents, studies confirm that the acquisition of citizenship has a positive effect on immigrants’ earnings and labour market outcomes.
While the share of immigrants who become Canadian citizens varies considerably by the period of immigration taken into account and other factors such as education and income, for instance, most immigrants who qualify for Canadian citizenship eventually acquire it.