Who Can Apply for Citizenship

Canadian Citizenship Requirements

Before you can apply for citizenship in Canada, it is important to be aware of the Canadian citizenship requirements to see if you are eligible.

In order to qualify to become a Canadian citizen, you must fulfill the Canadian citizenship requirements in the following categories:


Only people 18 years old and older may apply to be a Canadian citizen.

If you are interested in applying for citizenship for a child younger than 18, the following criteria must be met:

  • the child’s parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian is applying
  • the child is a permanent resident, although it is not required that he/she has lived in Canada for three years
  • one parent (birth or adoptive) is either a Canadian citizen or is concurrently applying for citizenship

Permanent resident status

You must have permanent resident status in Canada prior to becoming a Canadian citizen.  That status must be in good standing, which means you cannot be the subject of an immigration inquiry, an immigration investigation, or a removal order.

Time lived in Canada

Adults need to have lived in Canada for a minimum of 1,095 days during the past four years before they can apply to become a citizen.  This does not apply to children under the age of 18.

It may be possible to include the time you spent in Canada prior to becoming a permanent resident, provided that time occurred during the four-year period.

Criminal history

You are ineligible to become a citizen if you:

  • have been convicted of a crime or offence under the Citizenship Act during the three years prior to applying
  • are currently charged with a crime or offence under the Citizenship Act
  • are in prison, on parole or on probation
  • are under a removal order
  • are charged with, are under investigation for, or have been convicted of a war crime or crime against humanity
  • have had your Canadian citizenship revoked within the last five years

It is possible to apply for citizenship once your probation has ended or once a trial for an offence for which you are charged is over.

You might not meet the residence requirement for citizenship if, during the last four years, you have spent time on probation (if you were convicted of an offence), on parole or in prison, since it does not count as residence in Canada.

Knowledge of Canada

You need to have an understanding of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in order to become a citizen.  Furthermore, you must be aware of Canada’s history, values, institutions and symbols.

Language abilities

You would need to have adequate knowledge of at least one of the two official languages of Canada, English or French, in order to become a citizen.  You will be assessed to see if you possess an ability to communicate in either of these languages through your conversations with CIC staff, and during your citizenship knowledge test.  CIC staff will take note of how well you can understand basic verbal sentences and questions, and how well you can communicate basic information or answer questions.

As an example, while speaking with departmental staff, your interview with a citizenship judge, or as exemplified on your written test, you should be able to:

  • provide short sentence answers to simple questions on familiar topics
  • demonstrate that your vocabulary can allow you to engage in everyday communication
  • narrate a simple story describing everyday activities
  • describe an event from your past, or a future activity
  • provide simple everyday instructions and directions
  • express content or discontent

Language proficiency is an important component of Canadian citizenship requirements.

Communication is key when it comes to integrating into Canadian society.  That is why it is essential to have the proper skills to interact with your new community.  Learning a new language can be a difficult task, but there are reputable English as a Second Language (ESL) classes that will help to give you confidence in a new language.


Looking for English as Second Language classes? Just fill out your information below and we'll send you a list of all the classes in your neighbourhood.

Once you are aware of the Canadian citizenship requirements, you can move on to the next step and apply!

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