When applying for Canadian citizenship, a key part of the process is the citizenship test you will have to take. If you are between the ages of 18 and 54 when you apply for citizenship you will need to take a citizenship test to prove that you know the rights, responsibilities and privileges of being a citizen of Canada. It is also required in order to ensure you are familiar with the following aspects of Canada:
- Canada’s history
- Canada’s values
- Canada’s institutions, and
- Canada’s symbols
The citizenship test is part of the eligibility requirements for citizenship. These include the following factors:
- Age: You must be at least 18 years old to apply for citizenship. If you are under 18, a parent, adoptive parent, or legal guardian who is either a citizen or applying for citizenship can apply for you and you do not have to take the citizenship test in this case.
- You must have Permanent Resident (PR) status and not have status in question due to fraud nor have a removal order against you.
- For 3 of the 5 years previous to applying you must have lived in Canada. That’s 1,095 days out of the previous 5 years.
- You need adequate knowledge of either English or French; Canada’s two official languages.
- You must not have been charged with an indictable offence in the past 3 years or be currently charged with an offence as defined under the Citizenship Act. You cannot be in prison, on parole, or probation. You cannot have been investigated for, charged with, or convicted of war crimes or crimes against humanity.
- You must prove how well you know Canada by taking the citizenship test.
Any of these requirements that are not met will mean that you are not eligible for citizenship. If you meet these requirements it is vital you understand what is involved in the citizenship test, when during the application process you will be requires to take it, and how to prepare and study for the test.
When and Where to Take the Test
After you submit your application for citizenship, CIC will first mail you a letter telling you that they have begun processing your application. At a later date, CIC will mail you a notice telling you the time and location of your test. Please note that the time between receiving your first letter and receiving your official confirmation of your citizenship test, giving you the time and location, depends on the processing times involved with your application. This can vary from one application to another. CIC is currently experiencing processing times for routine applications of up to 24 months and for non-routine applications up to 36 months. These times are decreasing and the goal is to process most applications within 12 months, but this is not yet the case. You will have to be patient awaiting your citizenship test confirmation notice. Remember you can use the online Client Application Status service to see how your application is proceeding.
The citizenship test itself is usually written, although it may involve an interview with immigration officials to determine how well you communicate in English or French. You will be asked questions about the following topics:
- The rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of Canadian citizens;
- Canada’s democracy and how you can take part in Canadian society;
- Canada’s political history and Canada’s military history. This will include information on Canada’s political system, the monarchy, and the branches of government.
- Canada’s social history and cultural history as well as Canada’s symbols; and
- Canadian physical and Canadian political geography.
How to Prepare for the Citizenship Test
All the information in the citizenship test will come from the following study guide: Discover Canada, the Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. You will be mailed a copy by CIC, but you can go here to download a PDF copy or an eBook and start studying. Go here to listen to an MP3 version (audio file of the study guide). You will find sample study questions in the study guide that you can use to help prepare for the test. Here are a few examples of study questions:
- What are three responsibilities of citizenship?
- What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy?
- How are members of Parliament chosen?
In the study guide you will find all the answers to these as well as a list of sample questions that are given at the end of the guide. All the answers can be found in the study guide. You also may wish to attend citizenship classes to help you study for the test. You can find out more about citizenship classes by:
- Contacting schools and colleges in your area;
- Attending classes at your local library or community centre: For example the Toronto Public Library offers information on several citizenship classes available in the GTA.
- Contacting local settlement agencies or ethno cultural associations. For example, in Ontario, settlement.org offers information on classes and brochures that help guide you through the process.
Taking the Canadian Citizenship Test
If you are not available at the time and date in the notice you receive, then you will have to contact CIC’s Call Centre and schedule a new time. If you do not contact the Call Centre, after failing to attend your test, then your application for citizenship will be closed. The number is 1 888 242 2100.
The test itself will be written but may include an oral part as well, especially if you have difficulty reading or writing in English or French. Oral tests will be conducted by a Citizenship Officer, normally a Citizenship Judge, and will be in the form of an interview. Go here for a list of citizenship judges, including a brief profile of each judge. For either of your written or oral test, make sure to bring the following documents:
- The original copies of all the documents you sent with your application
- Any travel documents, like passports, that you have used over the 4 years previous to your application for citizenship.
After Taking the Test
You will be given the results of your citizenship test right after taking the test. If you pass the test and meet the other requirements for citizenship that are listed above, then you may be given a ceremony date at the same time as your test results are given to you. The ceremony date may also be mailed to you at a later date. The ceremony date is usually 6 months after the citizenship test and you will take the Oath of Citizenship. You will also receive a citizenship certificate at the ceremony.
The Oath of Citizenship involves swearing loyalty to a person, the monarch or Queen of Canada (Queen Elizabeth the Second), rather than to a constitution, flag, or country. As a constitutional monarchy, all the elements of our country, like the flag, or country itself, are encompassed by the Sovereign (King or Queen).
A citizenship certificate is a document that proves you are a Canadian citizen. It is not a travel document. You will need to apply for a Canadian passport, once you have your citizenship certificate.
If you do not pass your citizenship test, you will be scheduled for a second test. If you do not pass the second test, you will receive a notice to attend an interview with a citizenship officer. The interview will take about 30 to 90 minutes and you will be asked questions from the test in order for you to prove that you understand about Canada and its politics, geography, customs and other information given in the study guide. If you require an interview, you can separate your application from those of the rest of your family – your application will likely take more time if you have to attend an interview – or you can continue to have your family’s applications processed alongside yours.