Canadian Passport & Citizenship

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A Canadian Citizenship Certificate is proof of Canadian citizenship and the legal rights and responsibilities that come with it. Proof of Canadian citizenship is required to obtain a Canadian Passport. Every Canadian citizen is entitled to a Canadian passport for the purposes of travel, proof of identity or proof of citizenship. The Canadian passport is one of the best passports in the world with which to travel. The Henley Passport Index conducts a global ranking of the most powerful passports in the world based on the number of other countries that Canadian passport holders can freely travel without a Visa. Canada has most recently ranked number 9 in the world giving Canadian passport holders access to 183[i] countries without a visa. Those who already have proof of citizenship can apply for a passport using a passport application. Those who meet the criteria of a Canadian citizen can apply for proof of citizenship through a Citizenship Certificate or Birth Certificate. All Permanent Residents must first complete the added and more difficult step of applying for Canadian citizenship. This article is an overview of the process of receiving or proving Canadian Citizenship and a Canadian Passport thereafter. For any questions or information feel free to contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices.

History

The Canadian Citizenship Act has had many amendments since the original Act in 1947 was put into place. The original Citizenship Act for the first time in history, acknowledged Canadian citizenship. Meaning Canada was acknowledged as an independent country outside of the British Crown under which one could acquire legal citizenship.  In 1977 a new Citizenship Act replaced the last and allowed dual citizenship. The Act of 1977 was amended in 2007 and again in 2009. Amendment Bill C-14 called An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, 2007 allowed non-Canadian adoptees to Canadian parents to receive Canadian Citizenship without first applying for Permanent Resident status. Bill C-37, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, 2009limited Canadian citizenship to children of Canadian parents born outside of Canada to just one generation. The only exception to this rule was if at least one parent was a serving crown servant i.e. Armed forces. Finally Bill C-24, the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, came into use in 2015 and was a reform of the Citizenship Act of 1977. This Act extended citizenship to more people as well as extending the exception to the children of Crown servants to include grandchildren.

Canadian Passports were originally produced for the purposes of international travel. The first page of every Canadian Passport issued contains the following note on behalf of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada requests, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely, without delay or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

This request note is printed in both English and French in every passport. In 1862 the first version of a Canadian Passport developed under Governor General Viscount Monck was simply a letter of request with Monck’s signature. Early versions of the Canadian Passport were single sheets until 1921. Canada began to issue booklet passports in 1921.

Policy today

Acquiring Canadian citizenship comes with all the rights and responsibilities that Canada has to offer. Canadians can enjoy equal rights between men and women including in the workplace. Canada is a multicultural society and discrimination based on race in any environment in the country is illegal. Canada’s laws against discrimination protect these rights as well as freedom of religion. All Canadian citizens have the freedom to move and work anywhere throughout Canada’s 13 Provinces and Territories. Citizens also have the opportunity to take part in the appointment of government leaders through voting in Federal, Provincial/ Territorial and Municipal elections. While Canada is a free nation for all genders and races, there are responsibilities that accompany citizenship. All Canadian citizens must serve on a jury if called upon. Citizens are also bound to follow Canadian laws, and pay taxes.

Eligibility

All Canadian citizens over the age of 16 have the right to an Adult Passport. Citizens under 16 can receive a passport through a children’s application submitted by a parent or legal guardian. The General Passport Application package is a 7 page document and is available online. Those who have previously been issued a Passport may be able to renew through a simplified application form. There are 2 general groups of people who may be attempting to obtain a Canadian Passport. The first group is those who suspect that they meet the legal requirements for Canadian citizenship and simply need to obtain the documentation to prove it. Anyone in this group born in Canada can apply for a birth certificate from the Province or Territory in which they were born. Those born abroad who believe they have claim for Canadian citizenship can apply for proof of Canadian citizenship, citizenship certificate. The Canadian Government does offer a reference tool to assist those who believe they may already be citizens. This tool is for reference only. For a formal and more thorough assessment contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices. People in this first group may be 1st generation children of Canadian citizens born outside of Canada after April 17, 2009. Children or grandchildren of Crown servants born outside of Canada would also fit into this category. Though adoptees would fall into this category as well, there is a separate form for an adopted child under 18. The second group is those who are Permanent Residents applying for Citizenship. Permanent Residents must first apply for Citizenship before they can apply for a passport. The requirement of Citizenship makes applying for a Canadian Passport a two-part process for many people. In 2016 there were 6.5 million immigrants living in Canada who were eligible for Canadian citizenship and 86% went on to actually receive citizenship. To be eligible Permanent Residents must have physically been in Canada for at least 1,095 days in the 5 years before the application. Applicants aged 18-54 years must prove adequate knowledge of French or English. This age group must later demonstrate knowledge of Canada and the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship through a test. Any applicant who fulfills requirements but has a removal order or any security issues cannot receive citizenship. Some applicants may be required to pay taxes for at least 3 of the 5 years prior to the application. Please contact Cohen Brosh Law Offices to determine if this requirement applies to you.

Processing time

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Canadian citizens who do not need to first apply for Citizenship or Proof of Citizenship can expect the Passport application to be processed in 10 business days if applying at a passport office; applications through Service Canada or by mail generally take 20 business days, not including mail time. Incomplete applications or applications requiring additional checks, police certificates or citizenship applications will take longer. Most of citizenship applications are estimated to be complete after approx. 12 months, and 5 months for proof of citizenship applications. This is a general estimate and will most often take much longer, especially for proof of citizenship applications submitted outside of Canada. Urgent and express service is available for in-person applications in Canada. Urgent pick-up time is the end of the following business day and requires proof of travel. Express pick-up is 2-9 business days. Applications submitted from the U.S. or outside of the U.S. and Canada by Canadian citizens generally take 20 business days not including mailing time. Applications outside of the U.S. and Canada can be submitted in the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. Applications are processed at the Case Processing Centre in Sydney, Nova Scotia (CPC-S). The CPC-S reserves the right to send any unusual or problematic applications to any other processing center for decisions, further delaying the process. All applications that are incomplete, or not signed and dated will be returned. Those applying from overseas may encounter further delays, as the foreign visa offices would now also be involved.

Citizenship Application Process

When applying for Citizenship in Canada, Permanent Residents must first make certain that they are eligible. Confirmation can be made through information found online (Canada.ca) or through consulting with a professional at Cohen Brosh Law Offices. All supporting documents must be collected and copies made of relevant pages. For example, all previous passports held by applicants for at least the last 5 years, even expired passports, must be included. The biographic page- the page containing photo, biographical information and passport number- would be photocopied and included. The application, required supporting documentation, and fees would then be submitted. As stated above, incomplete applications; including those missing supporting documents, fees, or fields of the application will be sent back. The next step in a thus far successful application would be an invitation to take a citizenship test, appear for an interview with a Citizenship Official, or appear for a hearing with a Citizenship Officer or Judge. The invitation to take a test will most often be the next step. An interview on a different date may precede the invitation to take the test for some applicants. Interviews will often take place in local citizenship offices and may cover supporting documents submitted with application and/or previous passports held by applicant. For further information please refer to the table below taken from the Government of Canada official website or to the website itself https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/canadian-citizenship/become-canadian-citizen/citizenship-test.html

Your Age and SituationTake the TestGo to the Interview
Adult 18 to 54 years of AgeYesYes
Adult 55 and overNoYes
Minor under 18 with a Canadian parent or a parent applying at the same timeNoNo* Except in some cases
Manor 14 to 17 without a Canadian parent or a parent applying at the same timeNoYes
Minor under 14 without a Canadian parent or a parent applying at the same timeNoNo* Except in some cases

*Minors will only be asked to go to an interview if there are specific questions to ask. Both the minor and person submitting the application must be present

The Canadian Citizenship Test is 20 questions with a minimum of 15 correct answers considered a pass. Applicants only have a total of 3 chances to pass the test. Applicants will be tested on their knowledge of English or French, Canada’s history, geography, government, and the rights and responsibilities of Canadian Citizenship. Official study guide can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/discover-canada.html. The following is a sample question similar to what may be found on the test:

            How are members of Parliament chosen?

  1. a) They are appointed by the United Nations.
  2. b) They are chosen by Provincial Premieres
  3. c) They are elected by voters in their local constituency (riding).
  4. d) They are elected by landowners and police chiefs

The decision of the test/ interview can be mailed to the applicants; decisions can also be checked online. If the applicant passes the test/ interview they will be invited to a ceremony. This ceremony will require the applicant to swear an oath of citizenship before a Citizenship Judge after which the Certificate of Canadian Citizenship is given. Minors under 14 are permitted to attend however they are not required to swear the oath, therefore a parent or legal guardian will be given their Certificate if they do not attend. Canada no longer distributes Citizenship cards and has switched to certificates. Previously issued Citizenship Cards are still valid.

Required Documents and Forms

Citizenship Application

As previously mentioned, any incomplete Citizenship applications will be returned. Stale dated and post-dated applications will also be returned. The date an applicant signs their application is considered the filing date. If the CPC-S receives the application 90 days or more after the signed date, the application is considered stale dated. Post-dated applications, with future dates, are considered unsigned by the CPC-S. As the processing of Citizenship Applications can be a long process it is important that applicants ensure the application is complete, without error, and includes all necessary supporting documentation. All Permanent Records applying must have been a Permanent Resident for at least 5 years prior to application filing date and must have spent a minimum of 1,095 days physically in Canada within those 5 years. Canada’s government website offers a Physical Presence Calculator linked here: https://eservices.cic.gc.ca/rescalc/resCalcStartNew.do?&lang=eng. This tool is to help applicants gauge if they meet this requirement. An original printout of the results of the Calculator or a completed How to Calculate Physical Presence Form-CIT 0407 must be included in the application. Applicant must also include a photocopy of 2 pieces of identification and the biographical page of any and all passports or travel documents from the last 5 years, this includes expired documents or passports. A Permanent Resident Card is not a valid for of identification in this case. Valid forms of ID include previous passport, driver’s license, Health card.

One of the requirements of Canadian Citizenship is sufficient knowledge of French and English. Though applicants will eventually need to pass a test to prove this, applicants between the ages of 18-54 years must provide proof. All Permanent Residents in Canada have the option to participate in government funded English/ French language classes; this is sufficient for the application. Two identical citizenship photos must accompany every application. If photos are not identical or do not comply with specific requirements the application will be delayed. Finally, the required fee, to complete the required supporting items. The Citizenship Application itself can be completed online. The application may require all tax information for the 5 years prior to the application. For Permanent Residents applying to acquire citizenship, it will ask if you have applied for citizenship before, what you had been doing in the years prior to the application and your Social Insurance Number (SIN) if you have acquired one. There is also a field in the application for Police Certificates. All applicants who have been in a country other the Canada in the 4 years prior to application, spent 183 days or more in a row in a country other than Canada or lived in another country since the age of 18, unless it is their country of origin, must submit a police report from all applicable countries. Valid Police Certificates must be dated from the last time the applicant was in that country or no more than 6 months prior to application. All completed applications and supporting documents are sent to the CPC-S. Any removal orders or criminal/security issues that are discovered in police checks may have a direct impact on the decision of the application.

Some applications will be subject to a deeper examination under the Quality Assurance Program. This program enables Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials to select random applications to closely review. Part of this process is verifying that the application and all supporting documents are current and fully meet citizenship requirements. Selected applicants can be asked to interview with an IRCC Official.

 Proof of Citizenship Application

Those applying to prove citizenship status must submit the relevant supporting documents they have. Citizenship Certificates, Citizenship Cards (though they are no longer made), some birth certificates are all valid forms of ID that can be used in a proof of citizenship application. Minors are permitted to use proof of parents’ citizenship in these cases. Successful applications that pass all stages of the Citizenship Application process and receive a Canadian Citizenship Certificate can now apply for a Canadian Passport.

Passport Application

Canadian citizens born in Canada and/or those who have received a passport in the past that is lost/stolen, or expired will often find their application process simpler as they are not required to first apply for Citizenship. Those who are applying to renew expired passports will find it even simpler as there is a shorter, simplified application form for renewing passports. Those applying for renewal can use their expired Canadian passport as identification and are the only group who can do so. Those who have proved that they were in fact already citizens through proof of citizenship are eligible to apply for a passport.

Permanent Residents must have received Citizenship through a Citizenship application process to be eligible to apply for a Canadian passport. All adults applying for a new passport must submit an application which comes in a 7-page package, proof of Canadian citizenship, a piece of identification, two identical passport photos, any valid Canadian travel document and the application fee. A citizenship certificate can be used as proof of Canadian citizenship. With their application all new applicants must find a guarantor and two references. This is not required for passport renewals or lost/stolen passport applications. The guarantor is required to sign the application, one of the passport photos, and all copies of supporting documentation being submitted with the application. The guarantor can be a family member as long as they meet the guarantor requirements. A guarantor must themselves be over the age of 18 and hold a valid 5-year or 10-year Canadian passport and must have been over the age of 16 when they originally applied for it. They must have also known the applicant for at least two years. If the application is for a minor the guarantor must have known the parent/guardian for at least two years, but must also know the child. The guarantor may be contacted. Those living outside of Canada applying for a passport abroad may not know a Canadian who fulfills the basic guarantor requirements above. In this case, the applicant can choose an occupation-based guarantor. An occupation-based guarantor must be locally registered or licensed to practice their profession and must currently be working in that occupation. A few examples of professionals who are eligible to be chosen as occupation-based guarantors are judges, dentists, pharmacists, veterinarians, police officers, lawyers, and medical doctors. They must also have known the applicant for at least 2 years. Those living outside of Canada who do not know anyone who fulfills the occupation-based guarantor requirements may submit a completed form PPTC 132 (Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor). This form is available at any passport office or by telephone. The two references must also have known the applicant for at least 2 years, and be 18 years of age or older but cannot be the guarantor or a family member. Spouses, common-law partners, and in-lawsare all disqualified from acting as passport references. References must be willing to provide their personal information as it must be included in the application and they may be contacted. Passports will be sent in the mail or can be picked up at passport offices.

To sum up

A Canadian passport can be an important piece of identification to carry. It can be useful in purposes of travel and all the rights that come with its ownership. Unfortunately, the process to acquire a Canadian passport can be a long and difficult one for some. For new immigrants to Canada, this process requires one to first acquire and keep Permanent Resident status for at least five years prior to applying. Following this, PR’s must be granted Canadian citizenship through a citizenship application before they are eligible to apply for a passport. While those who believe they are already citizens must provide adequate proof of citizenship. Acquiring proof of Canadian citizenship through both paths can be difficult and hopefuls may benefit from consulting Cohen Brosh Law Offices.

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