Common Questions

What are some of the important changes to the law on getting and keeping Canadian citizenship?
The law has changed. It is now harder to get and keep Canadian citizenship. The final reforms to the Citizenship laws came into force on June 11, 2015.

Here are some of the important changes:

After the rules changed


Before the rules changed

If you are 14 to 64 years old, you have to:
  • show language ability in English or French, and
  • prove your knowledge of Canada in English or French
You can apply only after you have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for:
  • at least 4 out of the last 6 years (the 4 qualifying years - 1,460 days), and
  • at least 183 days each year for at least 4 out of the last 6 years
Only time when you are in Canada will count as living in Canada.
You need to file your income tax returns for the 4 qualifying years.
You must plan to continue living in Canada. If you leave Canada and live somewhere else, the government may be able to take away your Canadian citizenship.
  Only if you are 18 to 54 years old did you have to show language ability and knowledge of Canada. And you may have been able to have an interpreter in your own language to help you prove your knowledge of Canada. 
You could apply after you have lived in Canada for 3 out of the last 4 years. And you may have been able to include time that you lived here before becoming a permanent resident.
Time when you are outside Canada may still count if your permanent home is here.
You did not have to show that you have filed income tax returns.
You did not have to plan to live in Canada. If you became a Canadian citizen before the rules change, you cannot lose your citizenship only because you live somewhere else in the future.

To help you decide if you want to apply for citizenship, you should get legal advice about:
  • the rules to qualify for Canadian citizenship;
  • documents that you will need - there are new application forms; and
  • when to apply and any risks you might face if you apply.
Only lawyers, notaries, paralegals, students at law and members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) can be paid to provide citizenship applicants with representation or advice.

This common question is adapted with permission from Your Legal Rights, a project of CLEO.

See our related common questions:

Last reviewed June 2015
applying for citizenship, Canadian citizenship, becoming a permanent resident