Canadian citizens have all the benefits and obligations of permanent residents, outlined here.
Citizenship holders also have the following benefits and obligations:
Citizens can vote in federal, provincial and municipal elections, run for office and become involved in political activities, meaning they have a say in who runs the various levels of government that exist in Canada. That could be town, city, school board, province, territory, or country.
Citizens can run as independent candidates, or by joining one of the established parties.
Canada does not make you choose between being a Canadian citizen and being a citizen of your home country. Depending on your home country, you may or may not have to make that choice.
Right to do all jobs
Some jobs require high-level security clearance, which only citizens can have. This includes some jobs at the federal level. These jobs tend to pay well and have many benefits.
Canadian citizens get a passport, which is easier to renew and must be renewed less often than a permanent resident card.
The passport allows you to travel to many countries without the need for a visa, and makes it easier to get a visa where one is required. It should be noted this is for travel, and does not give you the right to work.
Having a passport makes you less likely to encounter problems returning to Canada from abroad.
You can also rely on the support of Canadian consulates and embassies, provided you travel using the Canadian passport, should you get into trouble while abroad.
As a citizen, if your children are born in Canada, they automatically become Canadian citizens. They will not have to go through any application process. Some children born outside Canada are also citizens at birth. But not if neither parent was born or naturalized in Canada.
Canadian tax laws work on residency rather than citizenship. You can be a citizen but not live in Canada, and therefore not have to pay Canadian taxes. For more information on tax, go here.
Federal tax rates for 2016
Provincial tax rates for 2016
|Newfoundland and Labrador||Prince Edward Island|
|• 8.2% on the first $35,148||• 9.8% on the first $31,984,|
|• 13.5% on the next $35,147,||• 13.8% on the next $31,985,|
|• 14.55% on the next $55,205,||• 16.7% on the amount over $63,969.|
|• 15.8% on the next $50,200,|
|• 16.8% on the amount over $175,700.|
|Nova Scotia||New Brunswick|
|• 8.79% on the first $29,590,||• 9.68% on the first $40,492,|
|• 14.95% on the next $29,590,||• 14.82% on the next $40,493,|
|• 16.67% on the next $33,820,||• 16.52% on the next $50,679,|
|• 17.5% on the next $57,000,||• 17.84% on the next $18,336,|
|• 21% on the amount over $150,000.||• 20.3% on the amount over $150,000.|
|• 16% on the first $42,390||• 5.05% on the first $41,536,|
|• 20% on the next $42,390||• 9.15% on the next $41,539,|
|• 24% on the next $18,370||• 11.16% on the next $66,925,|
|• 25.75% on the amount over $103,150||• 12.16% on the next $70,000,|
|• 13.16% on the amount over $220,000.|
|• 10.8% on the first $31,000,||• 11% on the first $44,601,|
|• 12.75% on the next $36,000,||• 13% on the next $82,829,|
|• 17.4% on the amount over $67,000.||• 15% on the amount over $127,430.|
|• 10% on the first $125,000,||• 5.06% on the first $38,210,|
|• 12% on the next $25,000,||• 7.7% on the next $38,211,|
|• 13% on the next $50,000,||• 10.5% on the next $11,320,|
|• 14% on the next $100,000,||• 12.29% on the next $18,802,|
|• 15% on the amount over $300,000.||• 14.7% on the amount over $106,543.|
|• 6.4% on the first $45,282,||• 5.9% on the first $41,011,|
|• 9% on the next $45,281,||• 8.6% on the next $41,013,|
|• 10.9% on the next $49,825,||• 12.2% on the next $51,329,|
|• 12.8% on the next $359,612,||• 14.05% on the amount over $133,353.|
|• 15% on the amount over $500,000.|
|• 4% on the first $43,176,|
|• 7% on the next $43,175,|
|• 9% on the next $54,037,|
|• 11.5% on the amount over $140,388.|
Applicants for citizenship between the ages of 14-64 must provide evidence of their knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages on the date their application is submitted. The minimum language abilities to be met are described in the regulations as the capacity to:
- Take part in short, every-day conversations;
- Understand simple instructions;
- Use basic grammar, simple structures and tenses in oral communication;
- Use vocabulary that is adequate for routine oral communication.
The applicant for Citizenship must have English or French speaking and listening abilities that meet the language requirements described above. Written proficiency is not necessary. Evidence of language proficiency must include one of the following:
- Results of a CIC approved language test;
- Diploma or transcripts showing secondary or post-secondary education in English or French;
- Results from a government funded language course showing CLB or NCLC 4 or higher;
Individuals who underwent language testing in the process of applying for permanent residence can use those results as evidence of proficiency, even if they have since expired. Language tests currently approved by CIC for citizenship application purposes are: International English Language Testing System (IELTS); Canadian English Language-Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP); Test d’Évaluation Française (TEF); Test d’Évaluation du Français Adapté au Québec (TEFAQ).
Citizenship: Whether physical presence in Canada is required to maintain the residence requirements under the Citizenship Act: Hsu, Re 25 Imm. L.R. (2d) 251 (Fed.T.D.). Appeal from refusal of application for Canadian citizenship.
The appellant arrived in Canada on July 23, 1989 and he established in Montreal, a consulting company with extensive contacts in Hong Kong and Taiwan. He rented an apartment which he shared with his partner and in late 1990, purchased a residential unit in Vancouver. He carried out the various formalistic requirements for establishing residence such as bank accounts, driver’s licenses, income tax reporting, health care insurance, social insurance card, etc. The appellant is divorced and his children are grown-up and reside on the US West Coast.
The facts also indicate that the company performed increasingly well during the three years in question and required appellant’s protracted absences totaling 569 days, primarily for business purposes. The trial judge that upon arrival in Canada in 1989, the appellant had not sufficiently established residence, prior to his first departure and therefore, his absences could not be considered periods of residence in Canada.
On appeal, it was held that even on a liberal and extended meaning of the term “residence”, the appellant failed to meet those requirements. “Canada had little if any connection with the appellant’s endeavor; an important component to qualifying for residence status is thus absent. (…) Being granted landed immigrant status is one step, but qualifying for Canadian citizenship is a different one altogether”.
This decision supports the position that the “strict constructionist” approach is not consistent with a proper interpretation of the Citizenship Act. A liberal application of the residence requirements is desirable where a sufficient connection to Canada is maintained in the form of personal, social or institutional involvements on the part of an applicant.
Citizenship: Banerjee, Re 25 Imm.L.R. (2d) 239 (Fed.T.D.). Whether physical presence in Canada is required to maintain residence requirements under the Citizenship Act.
The applicant obtained landed status on 19 February 1989. He arrived with his two daughters. His wife arrived in May. His mother arrived at a later date. Following the arrival of the family, they lived initially with his paternal uncle and thereafter in their own premises on the Montreal West Island. The applicant secured insurance numbers, medical care cards, obtained a Quebec driver’s license and established contact with the Board of Trade. In the course of the next three years, the applicant was absent from Canada 866 days, where he earned his livelihood as an international business consultant in the field of chemicals. As such he traveled extensively in Europe, the Middle East and Far East. His clients and his market are overseas. He owned no other real property elsewhere.
In overruling the Citizenship Judge, the Federal Court of Appeal concluded that applicant had effectively established residence prior to departing; the quality of attachment to Canada was determinative and that Canada was not being used by applicant as a facility of convenience. This decision supports a liberal application of the residence requirements under the Citizenship Act.
Where a person has maintained residence in Canada as a permanent resident for three years in the 4 year period immediately preceding the date of their application, they may be eligible for Canadian citizenship.
Section 5(1)(c) of Canada’s Citizenship Act also provides for the additional requirement that since admission as a permanent resident, such person has not ceased to be a permanent resident pursuant to section 46 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
What is of concern to many would be applicants is whether this three year residency requires actual physical presence in Canada for 1095 days in the 4 years preceding an application for Canadian Citizenship.
The decision on whether the 3 year requirement is met is rendered by a citizenship judge, who will apply one of three tests developed by Canadian courts to determine residence. These tests differ substantially from one another, causing significant uncertainty for applicants who have not been physically present in Canada for a total of 1095 days during the relevant period.
The first test is known as the “Strict Physical Presence” test and was elaborated by the Federal Court in Re: Pourghasemi (1993), 19 Imm. L.R. (2d) 259, 62 F.T.R. 122. It is a strict application of the residency requirement whereby the applicant must demonstrate actual physical presence in Canada for 1095 days during the 4 year period immediately preceding the date of application.
The second test is a more liberal interpretation articulated in Re: Papadogiorgakis  2 F.C. 208 (TD). Under this test, residency is determined by “[…] the degree to which a person in mind and fact settles into or maintains or centralizes his ordinary mode of living with its accessories in social relations, interests and conveniences at or in the place in question.” Physical presence in Canada is not essential provided that the landed immigrant has established and maintained throughout the three year period in question a “pied-à-terre” in Canada and has the clear intention to live in this country. Under this test, an applicant for citizenship has been deemed to meet the residency requirement despite having spent only 79 days in the country during the 4 years prior to applying for citizenship.
The third test outlined in Re Koo  1 F.C. 286, is a qualitative analysis of the applicant’s ties to Canada and is the one most often followed by citizenship judges. In order to ascertain whether an applicant has centralized his or her mode of existence in Canada, a number of issues are examined by the judge, including:
- Was the individual physically present in Canada for a long period prior to recent absences which occurred immediately before the application for citizenship;
- Where are the applicant’s immediate family and dependants resident;
- Does the pattern of physical presence in Canada indicate a returning home or merely visiting the country;
- What is the extent of the physical absences;
- Is the physical absence caused by a clearly temporary situation such as employment as a missionary abroad, following a course of study abroad as a student, accepting temporary employment abroad, accompanying a spouse who has accepted temporary employment abroad;
- What is the quality of the connection with Canada: is it more substantial than that which exists with any other country.
Recent attempts by the Federal Court to reconcile the three tests have remained unsuccessful. At present, case law requires that a citizenship judge should choose between any of the three residency tests in evaluating a candidacy for citizenship. A separate line of jurisprudence requires that the citizenship judge apply the qualitative analysis of RE: Koo in every case where the strict physical presence test is not met. The Federal Court has, however, consistently held that it must appear from the citizenship judge’s written reasons for granting or refusing citizenship, which of the above three residency tests was applied.
Owing to the unpredictable nature of Citizenship applications, it remains to be seen whether Parliament will intervene to settle this diverging interpretation of the residency requirement. Citizenship applicants who have not been physically present in Canada for the full 1095 days during the reference period and wish to bolster their chances of success are well advised to ensure their application identifies some or all of the six factors of analysis in RE: Koo. Failed applicants may re-apply again when their circumstances regarding physical presence are more favourable during a reference period.
Readers are invited to contact [email protected] for additional insight into the modalities for a successful application.
A modification to the Canadian Citizenship Act effective December 23, 2007 enables children adopted abroad by a Canadian citizen to become a Canadian citizen and obtain a Canadian passport without the requirement of first becoming a permanent resident under the immigration sponsorship process.
To qualify under this new streamlined process on behalf of an adoptee it must be shown that:
- at least one adoptive parent is, or was, a Canadian citizen when the adoption took place
- the adoption severs (or severed) all ties with the adopted person’s legal parents
- the adoption was or will be completed outside Canada.
- the adoption must conform to the laws of the province or the territory of residence of the adoptive parents
The adopted person does not meet the requirements for the citizenship process if:
- neither parent was a Canadian citizen when the adoption took place
- the adoption took place before February 15, 1977
- the adoption did not fully sever all ties with the child’s legal parents
- the adoption will be completed in Canada, or
- a probationary period is to be completed in Canada before a final adoption order is issued from the child’s birth country.
Previously, a Canadian citizen adopting a child born abroad would first apply to sponsor the child to come to Canada, then apply for a permanent resident visa, then apply for citizenship. Under the new rules, Canadian citizens are permitted to apply for their adopted child’s citizenship abroad and avoid the sponsorship and permanent resident application process. The new streamlined process clearly saves time and entails less paperwork as all of the previous steps are merged into one. Once the child has been granted Canadian citizenship, the parent will be able to apply for a Canadian passport through the appropriate Canadian government office outside Canada.
It is important to note that each international adoption experience will still entail its own unique anomalies as some adopted children will still be required to go through the immigration process. This would be the case for example if the adoption is to be completed in Canada or falls under a guardianship arrangement rather than a full adoption.
Interested readers with questions are invited to contact Attorney Colin R. Singer, (Toll Free in North America 1-888-817-2011) or by email [email protected] to discuss any issue related to the foregoing.