Acquiring Citizenship

Coming from Nepal in the 1990s, Rameshwar Adhikari and his family, wife Jyotsana and sons Sashwat and Sulabha, celebrated their citizenship ceremony in Edmonton, Alberta on 4 March 2011 (photo by Ed Kaiser, courtesy "The Edmonton Journal").

Before 1967, Canada’s immigration system relied largely on immigration officers' judgment to determine who should be eligible to enter Canada. Deputy Minister of Immigration Tom Kent established a points system, which assigned points in nine categories, to determine eligibility. Ethnic groups all across Canada endorsed the new selection process. The points system is still in use and has been several times to meet Canada’s job market and changing economic requirements.

Requirements

To become a citizen, an applicant must understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, such as the right and responsibility to vote in elections. Applicants are required to have an understanding of Canada’s history, values, institutions and symbols, and to have adequate knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages. An applicant must have permanent resident status in Canada, and that status must be without doubt (not the subject of an immigration investigation or inquiry, or a removal order). To become Canadian citizens, adults must have lived in Canada for at least three years (1,095 days) in the previous four years before applying. A criminal history prohibits one from being eligible for citizenship.

Testing

Before citizenship can be granted, immigrants to Canada are tested on their knowledge of Canada and their language abilities. In November 2009, a new and more comprehensive study guide for people applying for Canadian citizenship was introduced by the Canadian government. The new edition represented the first substantive changes to the study guide since its creation in 1995.

Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship includes information about common values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and gender equality. It promotes to immigrants and Canadian citizens alike an understanding of Canada's history, values, symbols and important Canadian institutions, such as Parliament and the Crown. It also underscores the contributions of ethnic and cultural communities in shaping Canadian identity and the sacrifices made by Canada's veterans for our country.

Questions of Citizenship

How well would you do on the citizenship test? A few sample questions from the brochure:

1. What are three responsibilities of citizenship?
a) Being loyal to Canada, recycling newspapers, serving in the navy, army or air force.
b) Obeying the law, taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family, serving on a jury.
c) Learning both official languages, voting in elections, belonging to a union.
d) Buying Canadian products, owning your own business, using less water.

2. What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy?
a) To remember our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II.
b) To celebrate Confederation.
c) To honour prime ministers who have died.
d) To remember the sacrifice of Canadians who have served or died in wars up to the present day.

3. How are Members of Parliament chosen?
a) They are appointed by the United Nations.
b) They are chosen by the provincial premiers.
c) They are elected by voters in their local constituency (riding).
d) They are elected by landowners and police chiefs.

Answers: 1.b; 2.d; 3.c

Learn More: Citizenship and Immigration Canada