How to Get Your Canadian Citizenship FAST

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There are relatively slow ways of getting your Canadian citizenship. For example:

  • Make a lot of unnecessary mistakes on your applications for temporary work or study permits, despite being very qualified. This means having to apply again and losing months of wasted time. THEN
  • Miss important deadlines for applying for permanent residence, which means you have to re-apply, despite having relevant Canadian work and/or study experience. Again you will lose valuable time, months’ worth, before finally getting your application on time, the second time around. THEN
  • Always apply on paper rather than online. Applying on paper greatly increases your processing time at any stage of your process. THEN
  • Wait the full 5 years before applying for citizenship, despite having 3 straight years of near-continuous or continuous physical presence in Canada. THEN
  • Re-schedule your citizenship test several times because of poor planning, and not meeting deadlines. THEN
  • Miss your oath-swearing ceremony because of your kid’s birthday party and because you forgot.

The point is that obtaining your Canadian citizenship is a multi-year process that you must stay on top of at every step of the game. There are no magic short-cuts, with a possible exception that involves a lot of tough work that we will outline for you below. It’s basically about getting things right the first time around. A complete application and the right forms and supporting documents is not just key, it’s a necessary requirement to avoid being sent back to the end of the line. Or even invalidating yourself for years as a candidate for:

You might consider it unfair and far too demanding, but Canada’s immigration laws must be followed. That includes IRCC’s rules and regulations on how to apply for each of the stages that lead towards your final goal of Canadian citizenship. In other words:


Do it online

Your application at each stage will be processed faster. Express Entry is the standard for gaining permanent residence in Canada. Express Entry is an online application management platform for choosing the best and brightest under the following immigration programs:


Do yourself a favour

Always be looking to upgrade your skills in your home country BEFORE applying:

  • Your English and/or French language skills: you must have minimum language skills in either official language. There is no way around this minimum requirement for immigration purposes. For citizenship, the language requirement is only waived for the very young and older people.
  • Your education: high school is pretty much never good enough unless you are certified in a trade. Even better, a post-secondary diploma, degree, or certificate from a recognized institution will help your chances.
  • Your work experience: check out the Canadian job bank and any private career sites to gain understanding into what type of jobs are in-demand in the Canadian economy. Try to upgrade your experience and your qualifications with any specialized training/programs related to your work experience. 


Do it often

Always be aware of any deadlines. It helps to frequently check IRCC’s website to see if IRCC’s requirements have changed under the immigration program you plan to apply for. Or if you have already applied, to check if there any changes that might affect your application. IRCC rules and requirements can and do change on a regular basis. For example, did you know that citizenship application forms were updated in October 2017? If you apply since that date using older forms, your application will be considered incomplete and returned to you. 

Practice for the Citizenship Test


Becoming a Canadian Citizen the Tough way

Canadian soldiers in a joint US-Canadian exercise By U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Seth Johnson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

[Public Domain]

See if you already qualify

There is a shortcut if you wish to call it that. In March, 2014 the government announced that it was planning to fast-track citizenship applications for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, CAF. Bill C-24 became law on June 19, 2014. This means that there is now a kind of fast-track process for non-Canadian members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to become citizens of Canada without meeting the residence requirement.

The general requirements for citizenship for a non-Canadian member of the CAF are essentially the same as anyone else applying to be a Canadian citizen with 2 important exceptions:

  • Your years of service in the CAF replace your residence requirements in a normal application, meaning you do not need to live in Canada for the full three years to apply for citizenship.
  • Your requirements to file income taxes are less than a normal application.


Service Requirements

  • You must have completed 1095 days (3 years) service with or in the CAF in the 6 years immediately preceding the date of your application. Service means:
    • Any time spent serving as a Regular or Reserve Force member of the CAF, whether full-time or part-time.
    • Any time spent serving as a foreign military member attached or seconded to the CAF.

If you are no longer a member of the CAF, you must have been released honourably.


Income Tax Filing Requirements

Income tax filings for 3 of the last 6 years immediately preceding the date of application must be shown. This only applies to applications dated June 11, 2015 or later. If you applied between June 19, 2014 and before June 11, 2015; then the income tax requirement does not apply to you.

Requirements Normal Application CAF Member On or after June 11, 2015
Residency or Service 3 years of 5 preceding years residency  NO RESIDENCE REQUIREMENT - 3 years service in CAF
Income Tax  File taxes in 3 of 5 preceding years File taxes in 3 of 6 preceding years
Total Time to Citizenship (from time you become PR) 3 years (assuming you meet all remaining requirements) 3 years (assuming you meet all remaining requirements)

Do you have what it takes to join the CAF? If you do, then joining the CAF is one tough short-cut towards Canadian citizenship. Just remember, getting through 3 years of military service is not an easy task, although you might try a part-time service with the Reserve Forces. Either way you will be serving Canada, and you will gain the benefit of a shortened residence/service period. As well, your application will processed on a priority basis at your local office. All in all, it may be good deal for those tough enough to qualify for and endure military training.

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Do You meet the Residence Requirements?

Get Your Citizenship Urgently

Immigrants wait to become Canadian citizens during PanAmania via

Citizenship Ceremony during the Pan Am Games in Toronto, 2015 by Harvey K / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Do you meet the residence requirement?

Did you know that you can request urgent processing of your citizenship grant from IRCC? There are certain conditions, however, that you must fulfil:

  • You must be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship in the first place.
  • You must meet the residence requirement. That means you must have lived the required number of days in Canada before applying for your urgent grant of citizenship.
    • For example, if you are 18 years of age or older, you must have been physically present in Canada for at least 1065 days during the 5 years immediately preceding your application for citizenship.
    • There are exceptions to this rule for certain government employees and members of the Armed Forces, but the above rule is the general rule of thumb.
    • Children under 18 years old do not have to meet this residency requirement as long as they apply with their parents. Minors applying on their own must meet the residence requirement.
    • Please note that this means you must already be a permanent resident of Canada.
  • There must be a valid emergency that requires you to become a citizen urgently. Examples of these emergencies are:
    • You are unable to apply for a job, or are about to be fired from a job, due to a lack of Canadian citizenship.
    • You cannot attend a Canadian school, college, or university, because you are not a Canadian citizen.
    • A death or serious illness in your family abroad means you need a Canadian passport to travel, because you cannot get a passport in your previous nationality for whatever reason.
    • You have successfully appealed to the Federal Court on a previous citizenship application.

Go here to check on citizenship application times. They can be as long as 36 months for non-routine applications. IRCC (formerly CIC) has stated that, by the spring of 2016, the backlog of citizenship applications would have been worked off, and average processing times would improve.  Officially, the average processing time is now 12 months though we hear that it's often longer. It is likely that any valid emergency you face will mean you need to apply for urgent processing, as normal case processing will not be finished in time.

If you have not yet sent your application for citizenship to (IRCC), you should take the following steps:

  • Go here to download your application for Canadian citizenship.
  • Complete the application and be sure to answer all questions. Incomplete applications will not be processed and will create frustrating delays.
  • Make sure you include in the envelope (package) with your application:
    • All required supporting documentation.
    • Official-sized photographs as per specified requirements. Go here for more information on photographs.
    • Correct fees: go here for more information; you can pay online or at Canadian financial institution.
    • A written explanation detailing what the reasons are for your urgent case. You should include any documentation that supports your specific reasons and explanation.
  • Write “Request Urgent Processing – Grant of Citizenship” in large, dark letters on the envelope where it can be clearly read.
  • Mail your application package (envelope with completed application, all documents, proof of payment of fees, photographs, letter stating why your case is urgent with supporting documents if applicable) to the following addresses:

    Mailing address:
    Case Processing Centre – Sydney
    Grant Adults
    P.O. Box 7000
    B1P 6V6

    Courier address:
    Case Processing Centre, Sydney
    Grant Adults
    49 Dorchester Street
    Sydney, Nova Scotia
    B1P 5Z2

If you have already mailed your application, and now require urgent processing, you must contact an agent at the IRCC Call Centre:

  • Telephone: 1 – 888-242-2100 - Agents are available Monday to Friday 8 AM to 4 PM YOUR LOCAL TIME
  • You must call the IRCC Call Centre from within Canada (If you are outside of Canada, read this)
  • For hearing impaired or those with speech impediments, TTY service is available Monday to Friday 8 AM to 4 PM YOUR LOCAL TIME, at the following number: TTY: 1–888-576-8502

The agent will speak with you and let you know if your case can be processed urgently or not, and if your case can be processed urgently, they will tell you what steps you must then follow.

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