Granting citizenship: Overview

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

Certain requirements must be met before a person can be granted citizenship. Some of these requirements may be waived by the Minister on compassionate grounds. The Minister also has discretionary authority to grant citizenship.

Persons 14 years of age or over who are granted citizenship must take an Oath of Citizenship in order to become citizens. Their legal status as a citizen takes effect as of the date the Oath is taken.

A person who is granted citizenship and does not have to take the Oath as per statutory requirements becomes Canadian on the day of the grant.

A person who is granted citizenship is a naturalized Canadian citizen. Any person granted citizenship is issued a certificate of citizenship.

There are different types of grants, as outlined in the Citizenship Act.

Adult and minor [subsection 5(1)]

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will grant citizenship to any person who:

  • makes an application for citizenship or, in the case of a minor, has a person empowered to act on their behalf make the application;
  • is a permanent resident with no unfulfilled conditions relating to their status as a permanent resident;
  • has been physically present in Canada for at least 1095 days in the five years immediately before the date of their application;
  • has met their tax filing obligations under the Income Tax Act for three taxation years that fall fully or partially within the five years immediately before the date of their application;
  • if 18 years of age or older, has an adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages;
  • if 18 years of age or older, demonstrates in one of Canada’s official languages that they have an adequate knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship;
  • is not prohibited under section 22 of the Citizenship Act; and
  • is not under a removal order and is not the subject of a declaration by the Governor in Council made pursuant to section 20.

Persons who are or were serving in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) (both permanent residents and non-permanent residents attached or seconded to the CAF) have expedited access to citizenship.

CAF applicants are exempt from meeting the physical presence requirement for a grant of citizenship. However, applicants must have completed three years of service in or with the CAF in the six years immediately before the date of application and must not have been released other than honourably from the CAF.

For full procedures, see Citizenship grants: Adult, Citizenship grants: Minors applying under subsection 5(1) and Citizenship grants: Canadian Armed Forces.

Minor [subsection 5(2)]

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will grant citizenship to any person under 18 years of age who

  • is the minor child of a Canadian citizen [the parent can apply at the same time under subsection 5(1)];
  • makes an application for citizenship (the application must be made by a person authorized to do so on behalf of the minor child);
  • is a permanent resident with no unfulfilled conditions relating to their status as a permanent resident;
  • is not the subject of a declaration by the Governor in Council made pursuant to section 20 of the Citizenship Act; and
  • is not prohibited under section 22.

Note: Minors 14 years of age or over at the time of the grant must take the Oath of Citizenship. There are very specific differences in the requirements that minors must meet for grants under either subsection 5(1) or 5(2). For full descriptions and procedures, see Citizenship grants: Minors and Citizenship grants: Minors applying under subsection 5(1).

Ministerial discretion to waive requirements [subsection 5(3)]

The Citizenship Act permits the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to waive certain requirements for citizenship on compassionate grounds:

  • knowledge of one of the two official languages (any applicant minor or adult);
  • knowledge of Canada and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship, demonstrated in one of Canada’s official languages (any applicant minor or adult);
  • taking the Oath (for reason of a mental disability) (any applicant minor or adult).

The following requirements may be waived for a minor applying under subsection 5(1):

  • to have a parent or person who has custody of the minor or is empowered to act on the minor’s behalf submit an application on behalf of a minor [new subparagraph 5(3)(b)(v)];
  • residency;
  • the taking of the oath of citizenship (minors 14 to 17 years of age) due to mental disability.

For full procedures, see the instructions on waivers.

Discretionary grants [subsection 5(4)]

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has the discretion to grant citizenship to anyone in special cases. This discretionary grant is to alleviate cases of statelessness or of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada.

For full procedures, see the instructions on discretionary grants.

Statelessness [subsection 5(5)]

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will grant citizenship to any person who

  • makes an application for citizenship;
  • was born outside Canada on or after April 17, 2009;
  • has a birth parent who was a Canadian citizen at the time of the person’s birth;
  • is less than 23 years of age at the time of application;
  • has been physically present in Canada for at least 1095 days during the four years immediately before the date of their application;
  • has always been stateless; and
  • has not been convicted of any of the following offences:
    • a terrorism offence, as defined in section 2 of the Criminal Code,
    • an offence under section 47, 51 or 52 of the Criminal Code,
    • an offence under subsection 5(1) or any of sections 6 and 16 to 22 of the Security of Information Act, or
    • a conspiracy or an attempt to commit, being an accessory after the fact in relation to, or any counselling in relation to, an offence referred to in subparagraph (ii) or (iii).

Note: A person who is granted citizenship under subsection 5(5) is not required to take the Oath.

For full procedures, see Citizenship grants: Statelessness.

Adoptee [section 5.1]

Subsection 5.1(1) of the Citizenship Act: Persons adopted as minors (not destined to the province of Quebec)

Subject to subsections (3) and (4), the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will, on application, grant citizenship to a person who

  • while a minor child, was adopted by a Canadian citizen on or after January 1, 1947;
  • was adopted before January 1, 1947, by a person who became a citizen on that day; or
  • was adopted before April 1, 1949, by a person who became a citizen on that day further to the union of Newfoundland and Labrador with Canada.

The adoption must

  • have been in the best interests of the child;
  • have created a genuine relationship of parent and child;
  • have been in accordance with the laws of the place where the adoption took place and the laws of the country of residence of the adopting citizen;
  • not have occurred in a manner that circumvented the legal requirements for international adoptions; and
  • not have been entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship.

Subsection 5.1(2) of the Citizenship Act: Persons adopted as adults (not destined to the province of Quebec)

Subject to subsections (3) and (4), the Minister will, on application, grant citizenship to a person who

  • while at least 18 years of age, was adopted by a citizen on or after January 1, 1947;
  • was adopted before January 1, 1947, by a person who became a citizen on that day; or
  • was adopted before April 1, 1949, by a person who became a citizen on that day further to the union of Newfoundland and Labrador with Canada.

The adoption must meet the following requirements:

  • there was a genuine relationship of parent and child between the person and the adoptive parent before the person attained the age of 18 years and at the time of the adoption;
  • the adoption was in accordance with the laws of the place where the adoption took place and the laws of the country of residence of the adopting citizen;
  • the adoption did not occur in a manner that circumvented the legal requirements for international adoptions; and
  • the adoption was not entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship.

Subsection 5.1(3) of the Citizenship Act: Adopted persons destined to the province of Quebec

Subject to subsection (4), the Minister will, on application, grant citizenship to

  • a person in respect of whose adoption, by a citizen who is subject to Quebec law governing adoptions, a decision was made abroad on or after January 1, 1947; or
  • a person in respect of whose adoption, by a person who became a citizen on January 1, 1947, and who is subject to Quebec law governing adoptions, a decision was made abroad before that day.

The adoption must meet the following requirements:

  • the Quebec authority responsible for international adoptions advises, in writing, that in its opinion the adoption meets the requirements of Quebec law governing adoptions; and
  • the adoption was not entered into primarily for the purpose of acquiring a status or privilege in relation to immigration or citizenship.

Subsections 5.1(1) and 5.1(2) of the Citizenship Act make reference to subsection 5.1(3) of the Citizenship Act because in assessing an application for Canadian citizenship under section 5.1 of the Citizenship Act, consideration must always be given as to whether the application falls under the Quebec adoption provision and should therefore be assessed according to the requirements of subsection 5.1(3) of the Citizenship Act.

For full procedures, see Adoption (PDF, 1.23MB).

Resumption of citizenship [subsection 11(1)]

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will grant citizenship to any person who

  • makes application for citizenship;
  • was a citizen and ceased to be a citizen;
  • did not have their Canadian citizenship revoked;
  • is not subject to a declaration by the Governor in Council made pursuant to section 20 of the Act;
  • is not under a removal order;
  • has become a permanent resident after having ceased to be a citizen;
  • is a permanent resident with no unfulfilled conditions relating to their status as a permanent resident;
  • has been physically present in Canada for at least 365 days in the two years immediately before the date of their application;
  • has met their tax filing obligations under the Income Tax Act for the taxation year immediately before the year in which their application is made; and
  • is not prohibited under section 22 of the Act.

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) applicants are exempt from meeting the physical presence requirement for resumption. However, applicants must have completed six months of service in or with the CAF in the two years immediately before the date of application and must not have been released other than honourably from the CAF.

For full procedures, see the instructions on resumption and on resumption in the case of Canadian Armed Forces.

Automatic acquisition of citizenship [subsection 11(2)]

A woman can acquire Canadian citizenship if she

  • was a British subject;
  • lost her British subject status by virtue of any law of Canada in force at any time before January 1, 1947, only because of her marriage or the acquisition by her husband of a foreign nationality;
  • would have been a citizen had the former Act come into force immediately before her marriage or the acquisition by her husband of a foreign nationality; and
  • provides the Minister with a notice in writing, indicating that she elects to be a Canadian citizen.

For full procedures, see Automatic acquisition of citizenship under subsection 11(2).

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