By Varun Singh
Canada’s allure as a land of opportunity has prompted numerous individuals to consider the prospect of citizenship, often catalyzed by marriage to a Canadian citizen. However, this pathway is not devoid of complexities and considerations. For those embarking on this journey, understanding the nuanced aspects and key considerations is essential.
The Marriage-Citizenship Nexus
Marriage to a Canadian citizen indeed provides an avenue for foreign individuals to explore the prospects of Canadian citizenship. This avenue is supported by immigration policies designed to unite families and enrich the social fabric of the country.
In recent years, there has been a discernible upward trend in applications for citizenship through marriage. Statistics from Citizenship and Immigration Canada indicate that in the last five years, the number of citizenship applications originating from spouses of Canadian citizens has increased by an impressive 27%.
When embarking on the path to Canadian citizenship through marriage, prospective applicants must consider an array of factors that extend beyond the confines of matrimony.
Permanent Resident Status
The first step to becoming a Canadian citizen by marriage is to obtain permanent resident (PR) status in Canada. This means that one must not be under review for immigration or fraud reasons, be asked by Canadian officials to leave Canada, or have unfulfilled conditions related to their PR status.
One can apply for PR status through the spousal sponsorship program, which allows a Canadian citizen or PR to sponsor their spouse or common-law partner for immigration to Canada. The sponsor and the applicant must prove that their relationship is genuine and not entered into primarily for immigration purposes.
Once one has obtained PR status in Canada, they must live in Canada for at least 1,095 days (3 years) during the 5 years before the date they apply for citizenship. This requirement ensures that the applicant has established strong ties and commitments to Canada.
The applicant must also be physically present in Canada on the day they sign their citizenship application and on the day they take the oath of citizenship. There are some exceptions to this requirement for certain individuals, such as Crown servants or their family members, who may count some of their time spent outside Canada as physical presence.
Canada has two official languages – English and French. To become a Canadian citizen by marriage, one must demonstrate adequate knowledge of either English or French. This means that they must be able to communicate in everyday situations, such as talking to neighbors, shopping, or using public services.
The applicant must provide proof of their language skills by submitting one of the following documents with their citizenship application: results of a third-party language test, evidence of completion of secondary or post-secondary education in English or French, or evidence of achieving the Canadian Language Benchmarks level 4 or higher in a government-funded language program. The language requirement applies to applicants between the ages of 18 and 54.
Citizenship Test and Interview
Another important step in the citizenship process is to pass a citizenship test and interview. The test is a multiple-choice quiz that assesses the applicant’s knowledge of Canada’s history, geography, political system, symbols, values, rights, and responsibilities.
The test is based on the official studyguide, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, which is available online or in print. The test is usually written, but it may be oral in some cases. The test takes about 30 minutes and consists of 20 questions. The passing mark is 15 correct answers. After the test, the applicant may also have an interview with a citizenship officer, who will verify their identity, documents, language skills, and eligibility for citizenship.
Oath of Citizenship and Ceremony
The final step to becoming a Canadian citizen by marriage is to take the oath of citizenship and attend a citizenship ceremony. The oath is a solemn promise to respect Canada’s laws and fulfill one’s duties as a citizen. The oath is recited in English or French, followed by singing the national anthem of Canada. The citizenship ceremony is a formal event where the applicant receives their certificate of citizenship and officially becomes a Canadian citizen. The ceremony is usually presided over by a citizenship judge or an authorized official.
Empowering the Path Forward
As the pathway to Canadian citizenship through marriage continues to evolve, a comprehensive approach is paramount. Statistical insights coupled with a holistic understanding of considerations provide aspiring citizens with a roadmap. By assimilating into the Canadian fabric through residency, language proficiency, community involvement, and cultural appreciation, individuals can not only secure citizenship but also contribute positively to the country’s diverse tapestry.
The journey to Canadian citizenship through marriage is a multidimensional endeavor that requires a delicate balance of legal, cultural, and personal elements. Statistical trends underscore the evolving nature of this pathway, emphasizing the importance of holistic integration and proactive participation. Aspiring citizens, armed with a thorough understanding of these key considerations, can confidently navigate their way toward embracing the privileges and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship.
(Author is MD, XIPHIAS Immigration)