After the U.S. election results, many Americans have found themselves looking to move to their northern neighbor: Canada. Thousands of Americans express their intention to make the move after every election. Whether or not they pack their bags and cross the border is a different story.
It’s not surprising that Canadian citizenship is in high demand. The country offers quality and free healthcare, free education up until high school, top colleges and universities, a family-friendly environment, cultural diversity, and of course Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just to name a few perks.
Here, in a nutshell, we will discuss the steps to becoming a Canadian citizen for Americans and the rest of the world. Becoming a citizen isn’t as simple as some may think, but most would say it’s worth it.
# 1: You must be 18 years old or older
If you’re not 18, you would need one of your parents (or legal guardians) to fill out your application for you. Your parent must also either already have citizenship or be applying for citizenship at the same time as you if you’re not of legal age in Canada.
# 2: Become a Canadian permanent resident
There are many different immigration routes to permanent residency. Applicants can apply through the specific province they choose to settle in, through Quebec’s special programs, through the express entry skilled worker program, or through family sponsorship for instance.
Once you become a permanent resident, you are eligible to receive healthcare coverage, as well as have the right to work, study, and live anywhere you choose in Canada. Permanent residents basically have the same rights as citizens, except that residents cannot vote or hold certain jobs that require a high security clearance.
# 3: Physically reside in Canada
To maintain residence status, you must be living in Canada for at least two years in every five-year period. In order to qualify for citizenship, however, you must have been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for at least four out of six years before the date of your citizenship application. Further, you must be physically present for at least 183 days in each of the four calendar years within the qualifying period.
Bill C-6, legislation to change the Canadian Citizenship Act, is waiting to be passed into citizenship, Canada actually wants immigrants to stay and live in Canada. You cannot obtain Canadian citizenship if you don’t intend on living in Canada.
# 4: Provide your income tax returns
To obtain citizenship, you must provide four years of income tax returns in the six-year period before your application date. The government wants to ensure that you’re paying your dues.
# 5: You must speak English or French
English and French are Canada’s official languages. However, to become a citizen, you are only required to know one of them. Although fluency is not required, you should be able to hold a basic conversation, give directions, and describe yourself in simple terms. The citizenship officer will use their discretion to decide whether or not your language proficiency is good enough to grant citizenship.
# 6: Learn about Canada
There is a formal quiz that all residents between 16 and 64 years old must pass prior to obtaining citizenship. The quiz tests knowledge of history, values, institutions, and symbols of Canada. This test is usually written, but the citizenship officer may also choose to ask questions orally.
# 7: Criminals need not apply
Those who have committed a crime within four years of submitting their application, or are currently on trial for a crime, do not qualify for citizenship. If you are in prison, on parole or probation, you also do not qualify.
Also, note that time in prison is not considered toward the physical residency requirement.
# 8: Buy weather-appropriate clothing
As Canada is the second biggest country in the world, the weather varies greatly from city to city. Montreal and Quebec, for instance, experiences colder winters while Vancouver, B.C., has a lot more rain. Before you move, researching what the weather is like where you intend on settling is always a good idea. Buy weather-appropriate clothing once you know.
# 9 (Bonus): Adopt some Canadian customs
What do Canadians like? Many have an affection for Tim Hortons; there are those passionate about hockey, and maple syrup is a definite must in any pantry. The formal requirements of citizenship are just the beginning. Who wants to become Canadian, eh?
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