How to Have Dual Citizenship in the US & Canada

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If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for Canadian citizenship, which gives you dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship. In other words, you don't lose your U.S. citizenship if you become a Canadian citizen. To qualify for Canadian citizenship, you must meet certain eligibility criteria and complete the official application process.

Canadian Dual Citizenship Eligibility

To qualify for Canadian citizenship as a U.S. citizen, you must prove that you know how to speak and write in one of Canada's official languages (either English or French), be a permanent resident of Canada, have lived in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 1,095 days out of the five years immediately before your application, and have filed your taxes (and paid any income tax you owe) for at least three years during the last five years.

If you're not sure if you have lived in Canada long enough to apply for citizenship, use the physical presence calculator on the Government of Canada Citizenship and Immigration website to find out.

If you were born outside Canada but at least one of your parents was born in Canada or naturalized in Canada before your birth, you are likely to be a Canadian citizen – although this is not a requirement for citizenship. Use the "Am I a Canadian Citizen?" tool on the Government of Canada website to find out if you might have a claim to Canadian citizenship through a family member.

Applying for Canadian Citizenship

If you meet the eligibility requirements, the first step toward becoming a Canadian citizen is to complete and submit the appropriate application. Different application packages are available for adults (age 18 or older), parents or guardians applying for a child under age 18, minors (under age 18) without Canadian parents applying alone, and adults (age 18 or older) who served with the Canadian Armed Forces.

Complete the application forms in full and send them, together with all requested documents and proof of your fee payment, by regular mail to Case Processing Centre – Sydney, Grant Adults, P.O. Box 7000, Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 6V6. You can also send them by courier mail to Case Processing Centre – Sydney, Grant Adults, 47–49 Dorchester Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 5Z2.

Citizenship Application Fee

The fee due depends on the type of application and where you are applying from. For example, if you are applying as an adult from the U.S., the total fee (as of 2019) is $630, consisting of a $530 processing fee and a $100 right of citizenship fee. The only available payment method is online with a credit or debit card. When you have made the payment, you must print your payment receipt and include it with your paper application.

Documents Required for Citizenship

If you are applying for citizenship as an adult, you must send several documents with your application, including photocopies of all valid and expired passports or travel documents you had in the past five years, photocopies of government issued identification with your name, date of birth and photograph, and a photocopy of personal identification, such as a driver’s license or age of majority card.

Proof of English or French

All you are between 18 and 54 years old, you must submit proof that you have adequate knowledge of English or French (even if your first language is English or French). This can be either passing a third-party language test equal to the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB/NCLC), such as the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program General Test (CELPIP-G) or the general training (not academic) version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Canadian Citizenship Test

After you submit your application, you will be invited to take the Canadian citizenship test, attend an interview with a citizenship official or attend a hearing with a citizenship officer or a citizenship judge. You may be tested on your knowledge of English or French, Canada’s history, geography, and government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

After your test, interview or hearing, a decision will be made on your application. If you are granted Canadian citizenship, you will be notified in writing of the time and location of your citizenship ceremony. The final requirement for Canadian citizenship – saying the Oath of citizenship before a citizenship judge or presiding official – takes place at the ceremony. You then have dual citizenship in Canada and the U.S.

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About the Author

Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.