Canadian passport
Applying for Citizenship from Overseas

Posted on 28/01/2022

If you are a permanent resident and you find yourself currently stuck outside of Canada (because of COVID restrictions, for example), can you apply for citizenship? The answer is yes, as long as you meet the physical presence requirements, and your PR status is valid. Furthermore, if you are still outside of Canada on your citizenship test date, you will have to write to IRCC to gain approval for taking the test online from your location overseas. However, you must take the oath (usually scheduled a few months after you pass the citizenship test) in Canada.

Think of it as a series of checkpoints you have to clear.

  1. Have you spent 1095 days in the 5 years previous to the date of application physically present in Canada?
  • If the answer is yes, move on to Checkpoint 2.
  • If the answer is no, then you’re going to have to wait until you return to Canada and can accumulate the 1095 days, before you can apply for citizenship.
  • Please remember that the following time overseas qualifies as time spent in Canada:
    • You or your partner/spouse you accompanied were employed by the Canadian Armed Forces.
    • You or your partner/spouse you accompanied were employed by the federal public administration.
    • You or your partner/spouse you accompanied were employed by a provincial or territorial public service.
  1. Do you have a residential and mailing address in Canada you can use?
  • If yes, then list those as IRCC does NOT send communications (emails, letters, etc.) pertaining to citizenship applications outside of Canada.
  • If not, please contact family or friends in Canada and set up a Canadian residential/mailing address.
  • Please remember to list your current, overseas address in the address history section of your citizenship application.
  1. Will you be back in Canada fairly soon? In other words, will you be back in time to write your citizenship test in Canada? This is a little tricky because as of late January 2012, IRCC has suspended all in-person citizenship tests and is giving online tests in Canada to some candidates.
  • If the answer is yes, wait for contact from IRCC with details of your citizenship test. In other words, if you will be returning to Canada within a few weeks, taking the test online from a location overseas won’t likely be necessary as you’ll already be back in Canada. However, as of early 2021, you may have to take your test online in Canada as well.
  • If the answer is no, then contact IRCC to ask for permission and then schedule an online test from your overseas location.
  1. Have you maintained your PR status by having at least 730 days of physical presence in Canada over the last 5 years? This only is relevant if there have been long delays between applying for citizenship and taking the test. Otherwise, your status as eligible to apply for citizenship (1095 days over the last 5 years) ensures your PR status also remains valid.
  • If the answer is yes, then proceed to checkpoint 5.
  • If the answer is no, then you’re going to have to return to Canada (or work for the military or federal/provincial/territorial governments overseas or have your spouse do so) and accumulate sufficient days physically present in Canada to reach 730 in the last 5 years. While an unusual scenario, it could happen if you face long delays in the citizenship application process after you’ve initially applied.
  1. After passing the citizenship test, will you be back in Canada for the taking of the oath? As mentioned, the period between taking the test and taking the oath is usually several months.
  • If the answer is yes, then await your oath-taking ceremony. Please be advised that COVID restrictions may mean delays, although oath-swearing is NOT done online.
  • If the answer is no, then you need to ensure that you maintain your PR status until swearing to the oath.

Posted in Tips and tagged Canadian Citizenship, PR status

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