Learn about risks of applying for citizenship

I'm a permanent resident of Canada. Should I apply to become a citizen?
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Learn about risks of applying for citizenship

Some people risk losing their status in Canada if they apply for citizenship.

Risks related to travel outside Canada

When you apply for citizenship, you must show that in the 5 years before the date you apply, you were in Canada for at least 3 years. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) can check with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for the dates that you entered Canada after being away.

If you were not in Canada long enough to keep your permanent resident status, CBSA can take steps to:

  • end your status, and
  • remove you from Canada.

When you return to Canada after travelling outside the country, a CBSA officer can ask you questions.

And, if you apply for citizenship, you have to tell IRCC where you've been if you were outside Canada in the last 5 years.

If you're a protected person, see the section below called Risk of losing refugee protection.

Checking your travel history

You may want to ask CBSA for a Travel History Report. The report shows each time you entered Canada on or after August 1, 2000. IRCC asks CBSA for this report if you apply for citizenship.

It's a good idea to get the report before you apply if:

  • you're not sure about dates when you travelled
  • you're not sure you spent enough time in Canada to meet your residency obligation
  • you're a protected person

Risks related to misrepresentation

When you apply for or are given permanent resident status or Canadian citizenship, you must:

  • give information that's true and correct, and
  • give all of the information you're required to give.

If you don't do this, it's called misrepresentation.

IRCC could find out about misrepresentation when you apply for citizenship or after you become a citizen.

If IRCC finds out about misrepresentation, you could:

  • lose your status in Canada, and
  • be forced to leave.

Risk of losing refugee protection

CBSA can apply to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) for an order that takes away your status as a protected person.

You have the right to a hearing before the IRB decides whether to make the order.

Types of orders

If you're a protected person, CBSA could apply to the IRB for:

  • a cessation order against you, for example, if you've been to the country that you were afraid to return to, or
  • a vacation order against you if they think that you got your status as a protected person by misrepresentation.

A vacation order and, in some cases, a cessation order can lead to the loss of your permanent resident status. Even if you've lived in Canada for many years, you could lose your status and be forced to leave.

Rights of Canadian citizens

If you become a Canadian citizen, you don't lose that status because of a cessation order or a vacation order.

Getting legal help

If any of these risks might apply to you, get legal help.

You May Also Need

Legal Aid Ontario
CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Reviewed: October 4, 2018

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