Do I become a citizen when I marry a Canadian?

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The short answer is no. Citizenship is not automatic when you marry a Canadian.

To become a citizen, you would have to apply for it. The requirements and the process for citizenship is the same for everyone. If you do not live in Canada and you are not a permanent resident, your spouse (or common-law or conjugal partner) can sponsor you to become a permanent resident. He or she must provide proof that he/she can:

  • Meet basic needs (food, shelter, and clothing) for himself/herself and the family
  • Support you financially
  • Make sure that you do not need financial help from the government

Go to this IRCC page: Sponsor your spouse, partner or children to find out more details on eligibility, requirements, and process of application.

Conditional Permanent Residence

This regulation was removed by the Government of Canada and no longer applies (see: Notice- Government of Canada eliminates Conditional Permanent Residence). Prior to April 2017, it was required that sponsored partners of Canadian citizens and permanent residents (PR) live with their sponsor to keep their PR status. This was called Conditional Permanent Residence.

To apply for citizenship, applicants must meet the following conditions:

  1. Age
    You must be at least 18 years old to apply for citizenship. Parents, adoptive parents, or legal guardians may apply for a child below 18 years old. One parent (or adoptive parent) must be a Canadian citizen or apply to become a citizen at the same time.
  2. PR status
    You must be a permanent resident of Canada at the time of application. You don’t need to have a PR card when you apply for citizenship.
  3. Time lived in Canada
    You must have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for a minimum of 1,095 days (3 years) in the last five years immediately before your application. If you are not sure and wish to check if you have lived in Canada long enough, use the Physical Presence Calculator.
  4. Income Tax filing
    You must have filed and paid your income tax in the three years that you have stayed in Canada.
  5. Language proficiency
    You will need to present a document that will prove that you have adequate knowledge of English and/or French. Adequate knowledge would mean that you can take part in everyday conversations, understand simple instructions or questions, use basic grammar, and know common words and phrases to be able to express yourself. Listed here are the types of documents that you can include in your application: What documents can I use to prove that I meet the citizenship language requirement?
  6. The citizenship test
    All applicants, 18 to 54 years old are required to take the written exam. As a good citizen, you must know and understand your rights, responsibilities, privileges of citizenship, Canada’s history, values, institutions, and symbols. The study guide Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship will be sent to you when your application is received. The questions on the test will be based on this study guide.
  7. Prohibitions
    You may not be eligible to become a Canadian citizen for a certain period of time if you are:

    • a person in prison, on parole or on probation in Canada, or are serving a sentence outside Canada
    • someone convicted of an indictable offence in Canada or outside Canada in the four years before applying for citizenship, or
    • a person charged with (or on trial for, or involved in an appeal of) an indictable offence in Canada or outside Canada

Here is a complete list of Situations that may prevent you from becoming a Canadian citizen as reference.

Also read Applying for citizenship: A step-by-step guide.

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Community Resources

Here’s the IRCC page for the Canadian citizenship guide. Aside from the step-by-step instructions, you can also print the document checklist and application forms you may need.

Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship is available in various formats. If you need more help in reviewing, enroll in Immigrant Centre’s free Citizenship classes. The program runs for six weeks. To register, go to Citizenship Class Registration.

Read Taking your citizenship test? 5 tips to ace it for more tips and resources.

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