One of the eligibility criteria to become a Canadian citizen is that you need to have been physically present in Canada for three out of the last five years.
Among other criteria, if you are age 18 and older, you need to have been in Canada for at least 1,095 days out of the five years immediately before you apply for citizenship.
The first thing to note when calculating your citizenship eligibility is that you need to have been a permanent resident for at least two years in order to meet the physical presence requirement. After you become a permanent resident, each day in Canada counts as one full day toward your citizenship application.
Each day you were physically in Canada as a temporary resident before you became a permanent resident counts as half a day, up to a maximum of 365 days.
So, if you were a temporary resident who did not leave Canada for three years, it would only count for 365 days. Again, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) consider only the five years immediately before the date of your application for the physical presence requirement.
If you have been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for the past five years, for example, then the time you spent in Canada as a temporary resident does not count. If you were not a temporary resident before you got permanent residence, then you need to have spent at least 1,095 days, or three years, in Canada.
In any case, applying with more than the minimum required number of days ensures you are accounting for any miscalculations. IRCC even recommends on its webpage to apply with more days than you need.
Other eligibility criteria for Canadian citizenship
In addition to the physical presence requirement, here are some of the other eligibility criteria for Canadian citizenship:
- You need to be able to speak either English or French well enough to communicate in Canadian society. If you are between ages 18 and 54 you have to submit proof of language proficiency.
- You cannot have a criminal history that prohibits the granting of citizenship, as decided by IRCC.
- You must be aware of the rights and responsibilities of citizens and have basic knowledge of Canada’s geography, political system, and history.
- You may need to file taxes in Canada for at least three years during the five years before the date you apply.
- Also, you must submit a formal application to IRCC and pay a government processing fee, and right of citizenship fee.
Once you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for Canadian citizenship. Then once approved, applicants between ages 18 and 54 will have to take a citizenship test. Then you must attend a citizenship ceremony and receive a certificate of Canadian citizenship, and take the Oath of Citizenship. After that, you officially become a Canadian citizen.
Physical presence requirement for refugee claimants and Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) applicants
If you received a work or study permit while your refugee claim or PRRA was being assessed, these documents did not grant you temporary resident status. Therefore, you cannot use this period of time in your physical presence calculation.
If you are claiming time as a protected person, the only time allowed is the time from when you received a positive decision on your claim or PRRA application until the day before you became a permanent resident. The days you spend in Canada after approval and before permanent residency count as half a day toward your citizenship application.
If you were in prison in Canada
If you spent any time in Canada in prison, on probation, or parole, those days usually cannot be counted toward your physical presence. There are some exceptions. Time on probation as a result of a conditional discharge may count towards physical presence if you did not breach parole or fail to comply with the conditions of parole.
Also, time spent in prison or on probation does not have to be declared if you received a youth sentence and successfully competed that sentence. If your time serving a sentence for an offence in Canada happened more than five years before the date of your application, then it does not have to be declared as it is outside the period that IRCC considers for the physical presence requirement.
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