What is the difference between naturalization and citizenship?
I just renewed my Canadian passport, and one of the questions on the renewal form was "Are you a naturalized Canadian?" Which started me wondering about what a "naturalized Canadian" is, and what the difference is between naturalization and Canadian citizenship.
Those of us who are lucky enough to have been born and raised in Canada get to enjoy all the rights, privileges and benefits of being citizens of this wonderful country. I believe that I live in the best country in the world. And apparently so do the quarter million new immigrants who arrive in Canada each year.
A naturalized Canadian is someone who has obtained citizenship by means other than being born in Canada or being born to or adopted by Canadian citizens. In other words, a naturalized Canadian is a person who became a permanent resident and then applied for and was granted full citizenship.
What rights does a permanent resident have (or not have)?
- Permanent residents are eligible for health care and most other social benefits, they can live and work anywhere in Canada, and they are protected by Canadian laws and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms just as any Canadian citizen would be.
- As a Canadian citizen, I have the right to vote. Permanent residents cannot vote, and they can't run for public office.
- I would not lose my citizenship if (heaven forbid) I was convicted of a criminal offence, but if I was a permanent resident, I might be deported for criminal activity. Which is not a bad thing. Too bad we can't deport a few of our more notorious Canadian criminals!
- Permanent residents also cannot hold Canadian passports. They must have a passport from their country of origin in order to travel, but they must attach official documentation showing that they have permanent resident status in order to get back into Canada.
How does an immigrant become a naturalized Canadian?
- First of all, you must have acquired permanent resident status and you must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must have lived in Canada for at least 3 years.
- You must be able to speak and understand English or French.
- You must have an understanding of Canadian government, history, geography and what the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship are.
- You must pass the citizenship test. The federal government will supply you with a guide that you can study in preparation for the test.
- Once you've passed the test, you then are ready to take the oath of citizenship.
Who does not qualify for Canadian citizenship?
- Anyone who has been convicted of a criminal offence or an offence under the Citizenship Act in the 3 years prior to their citizenship application.
- Anyone who is in prison, on parole or probation, or who has been in prison, on parole or probation for a period of more than 1 year at any time in the past four years.
- Anyone who has a deportation order against them.
- Anyone who has been charged with or convicted of a war crime or a crime against humanity.
- Anyone who has had their citizenship revoked within the past 5 years.