one of the most common refrains every election season is people swearing they will move to Canada, a land where health care is free, people are friendly, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explains quantum computing just for laughs.
But to really become a Canadian citizen, you may first have to be compelled to undergo many steps, like living in the country for a minimum of six years, staying on your best behavior, and knowing a thing or 2 concerning the country you’ll soon call home.
For those that really need to go up north, here’s how you move to Canada.
1. Make sure you’re not already a Canadian citizen.
Before you go through the hassle of applying for citizenship, take a short quiz to see if you may already be Canadian.
The government outlines several caveats for being a citizen even if you weren’t born there, many of which depend on your parents’ citizenship. Maybe you secretly inherited their status at some point along the way.
2. Must Be at least 18 years old
If you’re not a legal adult, you’ve got an uphill climb ahead of you.
Minors need their parent or legal guardian to fill out the application for them; they need to be permanent residents in Canada (more on that later); and the parent must either be a citizen or applying to become one at the same time.
3. Apply for skilled immigrants.
Canada has a fast-track system for immigration called Express Entry. It’s how skilled workers transition into a role in the country.
All applicants into Express Entry are given specific scores based on their specific talents and job prospects and then ranked with other applicants. Those at the top of the rankings are invited to become permanent residents.
4. Have a permanent residence in Canada.
To become a permanent resident, people can choose between several avenues. They can apply through the province of their choice, go down a special entrepreneur route, get help from a family member who lives in Canada, or go through Quebec, which has special immigration requirements.
Permanent residents are entitled to healthcare coverage and can work, study, and travel anywhere in Canada. You just can’t vote, run for office, or hold some jobs with high security clearance.
5. Spend six years at that residence
Permanent residents don’t always become citizens. The bar for citizenship is higher.
If you’re living in Canada, you must have been a permanent resident and physically present in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four 365-day periods) in the six years immediately before the date of your application.
You must also be present for 183 days (half a year) during each of the four calendar years that are fully or partially within the six years before the application date.
In other words, your time in Canada needs to stay relatively consistent.
6. Provide your income tax filing
Like the residence requirement, you must be able to provide four years’ worth of tax returns in the six-year period leading up to the date of your application.
Basically, they want to see if your job is legit.
7. Speak English or French
Along with dozens of other countries, Canada has two official languages: English and French.
To become a citizen, you need to know just one. You don’t need to be fluent, just conversational enough to make small talk, give directions, use basic grammar, and know your vocab well enough to describe yourself.
You’ll send along written documents with your application, but a citizenship officer will make the final call whether your English or French is up to snuff.