If you are born in Canada or born to a Canadian family then you are a “born citizen” of Canada. In other words you are holding a Canadian birth certificate. Many people around the world consider Canadian citizenship a privilege. One of the reasons that people immigrate to Canada is to become Canadian citizens. They leave their home country, their language, their relatives, and sometimes their culture and beliefs behind to pursue a new life which eventually turns them into Canadian citizens. So the next time you take out your wallet and glance at your short form birth certificate don’t take the matter for granted.

Who is a Naturalized Citizen?

The “Citizenship Act” of Canada does not directly designate a born citizen and a naturalized citizen. We could, however, consider a naturalized citizen, as a person who becomes a Canadian citizen under circumstances other than being born in Canada or to a Canadian parent.

The common process is when a permanent resident of Canada who is a citizen of another country becomes eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship. For example, according to the existing regulations, if you are a landed immigrant and in the past four years have spent at least three years in Canada then you may apply for citizenship. The next steps usually involve in submitting some documents, taking a test, and eventually taking the Oath of Citizenship (or rather attending the Citizenship ceremony).

Children under 18 who are not born in Canada and whose parents naturalize in Canada become Canadian citizens without taking the test. The same is true for those who are 55 or older.  Since the regulations may change in the future I strongly recommend to visit the CIC website for the up-to-date information.

What are the Differences Between Naturalized and Born Citizens

Federal and provincial laws and courts treat naturalized and born citizens equally. Both groups have similar responsibilities and privileges. Nobody in the country could treat such citizens differently.

Nonetheless, there are certain differences that you need to keep in mind:

  • If a naturalized citizen has obtained his/her citizenship fraudulently, then their citizenship could be revoked. Section 10 of Citizenship Act explains this issue in further detail.
  • A naturalized citizen cannot hold a Canadian birth certificate.
  • A naturalized citizen may be treated by other countries differently. As an example, the United States treats some of naturalized citizens of Canada who hold a passport from certain countries under a program called NSEERS (National Security Entry Exit Registration System). These people face certain restrictions which usually do not exist for Canadian born citizens. It looks like that Canadian government has no appetite to prevent such discriminatory behaviour imposed to its naturalized citizens.

Canada is a progressive country and despite some flaws there is always room and hope for improvement. I believe that we will see a day that all Canadian citizens are treated exactly the same, no matter where they are born or how they have become Canadian citizens.

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“This article provides information of a general nature only. It may no longer be current. It does not provide legal advice nor should it be relied upon. If you have specific legal questions you should consult a lawyer.”