Citizenship is the final status obtained after an (often very long) process. With it come the rights and privileges of voting in Canadian elections, coming and going from Canada at will with a Canadian passport, and being able to work in certain government/classified positions, as well as being able to sponsor others to come to Canada. Unlike in many other countries, citizenship can be granted by no more than being born within the country's borders (with certain exceptions, such as diplomatic missions). Nearly a quarter of the Canadian population is foreign born, and they acquired citizenship after a thorough process of evaluation by the government.
A key portion of the application is the residency requirement, derived from Citizenship Act regulations. The requirement is that an application maintain their residency in Canada for a total of three years (1095) days minimum in the five years before applying. Importantly, these are not required to be consecutive times, only total. There are exceptions to strict physical presence, such as children going on a trip with parents, travel as part of employment, or visiting relatives. However, determining whether an exception applies in certain situations can be tricky, which is why having a lawyer's assistance for citizenship applications is vital.
A permanent resident must show evidence of their living in Canada, including old addresses, proof of any travel history outside Canada (from passports), references from landlords, former employers, or others who can verify the information in the application. Contradictory information could result in delays, or even a rejection at worst. This is why it is important to gather and retain information, to save time during the application process. It can then be a simple matter of adding up the days and knowing for certain you are eligible at the time you apply.
Rejected citizenship applications can only be challenged in Federal Court, which is both time-consuming and expensive; this is why it is so important to have a strong application to start with.
Even after all of the above, and the application is approved, an applicant needs to pass the citizenship test (on subjects including Canadian history, geography, and politics), before their citizenship certificate is approved (and with it the ability to obtain a Canadian passport or register to vote).
This is just a brief overview of the complexities of citizenship law. Adopted children, residents outside Canada with parents born before certain dates, and other exceptions have been the subject of litigation too detailed to go over in this space. In future posts, I will discuss some of these issues further.
This blog details the many legal issues among Luka's practice areas, for a general audience. None of this information is a substitute for legal advice.