How to Calculate Eligibility for Canadian Citizenship

Posted January 24, 2022 8:00 AM EST



One of the eligibility criteria to become a Canadian citizen is that you must have been physically present in Canada for three out of the last five years.

Among other criteria, if you are 18 or older, you must have been in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the five years immediately preceding your citizenship application.

The first thing to note when calculating your citizenship eligibility is that you must have been a permanent resident for at least two years to meet the physical presence requirement. Once you become a permanent resident, every day in Canada counts as a full day for your citizenship application.

Calculate your citizenship eligibility

Each day you were physically in Canada as a temporary resident before becoming a permanent resident counts as half a day, up to a maximum of 365 days. So if you were a temporary resident who didn’t leave Canada for three years, that would only count as 365 days. Again, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) only considers the five years immediately preceding your application date for the physical presence requirement. If you have been physically present in Canada as a permanent resident for the past five years, for example, the time you have spent in Canada as a temporary resident does not count. If you were not a temporary resident before obtaining permanent residence, you must have spent at least 1,095 days, or three years, in Canada.

In any case, applying with more than the minimum number of days required ensures that you account for any miscalculations. IRCC even recommends on its webpage to apply with more days than necessary.

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 must be able to speak English or French well enough to communicate in Canadian society. If you are between the ages of 18 and 54, you must show proof of language proficiency.
  • You cannot have a criminal history that prohibits the grant of citizenship, as decided by IRCC.
  • You should know the rights and responsibilities of citizens and have a basic knowledge of the geography, political system and history of Canada.
  • You may have to file a Canadian tax return for at least three years in the five years before your application date.
  • In addition, you must submit an official application to IRCC and pay government processing fees and citizenship rights fees.

Once you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for Canadian citizenship. Then, once approved, applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 will need to take a citizenship test. Then you must attend a citizenship ceremony, 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, those documents did not grant you temporary resident status. Therefore, you cannot use this time period in your physical presence calculation.

If you are requesting time as a protected person, the only time allowed is the time from when you receive a positive decision on your application or PRRA application to the day before you are granted permanent resident status . The days you spend in Canada after approval and before permanent residence count as half a day towards your citizenship application.

If you were in jail in Canada

If you have spent time in Canada in prison, on probation, or on parole, those days generally cannot be counted in your physical presence. There are a few exceptions. Time spent on probation following parole may count towards physical attendance if you have not breached parole or violated parole conditions. Also, time spent in jail or on probation does not have to be reported if you received a youth sentence and successfully served that sentence. If your time to serve a sentence for an offense in Canada has passed more than five years before the date of your application, it is not necessary to declare it because it is outside the time period that IRCC considers for physical presence requirement.

Need help with citizenship applications? Contact Cohen Immigration Law for a free consultation

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