As a general rule, individuals with three years of permanent resident status during the preceding four years can qualify for Canadian citizenship.
Applications are submitted at the local citizenship office in the area of an applicant's residence. Applications may likewise be submitted directly to the citizenship office in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Applications submitted through a local citizenship office are pre screened to ensure that that the three-year residence rule has been met. Applicants are thereafter scheduled for an informal interview with a citizenship officer to review the merits of the submissions in support of the application.
Within about 12 - 15 months from submission, applicants may be required to appear before a Citizenship Judge to provide evidence of their knowledge of one of Canada' Official languages as well as an understanding of the overall Canadian political structure.
Generally, actual physical residence is required. However in a number of instances, non-physical residence has been acceptable. The issue of physical and non-physical residence has given rise to substantial litigation and accordingly merits further consideration by prospective applicants.
A modification to the Canadian Citizenship Act effective December 23, 2007 enables children adopted abroad by a Canadian citizen to become a Canadian citizen and obtain a Canadian passport without the requirement of first becoming a permanent resident under the immigration sponsorship process.
Previously, a Canadian citizen adopting a child born abroad would first apply to sponsor the child to come to Canada, then apply for a permanent resident visa, then apply for citizenship. Under the new rules, Canadian citizens are permitted to apply for their adopted child’s citizenship abroad and avoid the sponsorship and permanent resident application process. The new streamlined process clearly saves time and entails less paperwork as all of the previous steps are merged into one. Once the child has been granted Canadian citizenship, the parent will be able to apply for a Canadian passport through the appropriate Canadian government office outside Canada.