Lifestyle | Travel

Becoming a Canadian Citizen: My Journey and a Simple Guide

In December 2014, about eight years ago, I packed my bags and made the brave choice to move to Canada to pursue a Master’s degree in Business. I was a regular in Canada before then as my family and I often came to see my sister, who also lived here. However, making that move was always going to be daunting. But I did it anyway. I quit my banking job in Nigeria and took the leap of faith to start a new chapter of my life.

After my Master’s degree was over, I landed an internship with Nokia, a technology company, got a work permit, worked for about two years, and made my way back to Financial Services. Shortly after getting my work permit, I became eligible to apply for a Permanent Residency, which I obtained in May 2018. And now, today, August 9, 2022, I am officially a citizen of Canada and can fully call this country home.

The journey to get here

While studying for my Master’s degree, I fell in love with travel on a trip to Peru. My Master’s degree was in a Global Business program where students took classes in three countries – Canada, Netherlands and Peru. It was the trip to Peru that did it for me, and I ended up catching the travel bug. Between the end of my Master’s program in 2016 and my Canadian Permanent Residency, it took around two years to become a Permanent Resident. This journey could have been shorter if I didn’t travel as much as I did, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Why opt for short and boring, when you can go for long and colorful? My travels have added color and depth to my life.

This is my timeline.

  • December 31, 2014 – I moved to British Columbia, Canada, for my Master’s degree.
  • June 15, 2016 – Completed my Master’s degree in Business.
  • June 30, 2016 – I got my work permit and worked for roughly two years. I traveled for leisure a lot in between, so it took a bit longer to meet the physical presence requirement for a Canadian Permanent Residency.
  • May 30, 2018 – I became a Permanent Resident of Canada.
  • March 2020 – The pandemic happened, and it *forced* me to stay home. During that time, I was able to build up my physical presence in Canada and eventually qualified to apply for citizenship.
  • July 2021 – I finally had 1,095 days as a Permanent Resident, so I applied for my citizenship in July 2021.
  • August 2022 – I became a citizen of Canada.

An adage says, “whenever you wake up, that is your morning”. I’m in love with my timing and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Becoming a Canadian Citizen

When you become a Permanent Resident of Canada, there are a lot of perks that come with it. You can come to Canada at any time, you can work with no restrictions, you can buy a house, buy a car and do many other things. But you cannot vote. And, of course, you do not have the privilege of having a Canadian passport, one of the world’s most powerful passports.

To become a Canadian Citizen, you first need to be a Permanent Resident and then be physically present in Canada for 1,095 days as a Permanent Resident. Check out the full requirements here.

If you love to travel like me, it will take you longer to be a Canadian Citizen as it will take you longer to meet the 1,095 physical presence requirement. Some people wait to meet the physical presence requirement, get their passport and then travel. While that is the painless route, I didn’t like the idea of waiting, and I chose to travel while I was young and able to. Canadian citizenship will come, and it has. It’s a matter of personal choice what you prefer to do. You can calculate your physical presence here.

Here’s a rough timeline and some steps for you.

  • After becoming a Permanent Resident and meeting your 1,095 days requirement, you can officially apply for your Canadian Citizenship. You will need documents like an English test result, tax slips, a piece of ID (not your Permanent Resident card), and more. Check out the full list here.
  • Once you apply for your citizenship, you will get a confirmation email (called an Acknowledgement of Receipt (AOR)). This typically happens in about three months.
  • After you receive your AOR, you may have to wait another four months for your background check to be complete.
  • Once your background check is complete, you will be invited for a citizenship test. You will need a 15 out of 20 score to pass the test. I got an 18 after preparing for it for one evening. I recommend preparing in advance as it contains a lot of history that I already knew a bit of. I used an app called Citizenship Practice Test and skimmed through the study guide provided. Make sure to complete the test within the timeframe provided. You can also practice here.
  • After your test, it can take around four months to hear back. Some people are called for interviews, but luckily, I wasn’t. Most people are scheduled for their citizenship ceremony after their test and after passing all their background checks.
  • When you attend and complete your citizenship ceremony, you take the oath of citizenship and are declared a Canadian citizen. You will then receive your citizenship certificate in the mail and can apply for a Canadian passport.

Your journey from Canadian Permanent Resident to Canadian Citizen can take around 12 months from the time you apply. For some, it can take longer or shorter, depending on so many factors.

If you’d like to read more about how to immigrate to Canada, please check out this guide I created.

Choosing to travel and some of the challenges that came with it

Travel in itself is a privilege I do not take for granted. It takes some physical, mental and financial health to be able to travel. With my Nigerian passport, I traveled to 48 countries in total. See the full list here. I have shared the challenges of doing so in the past, but in summary, you will have to apply for visas; there’s the cost associated with visas and the hassles of getting said visa. The hardest visa I obtained with my Nigerian passport was one to Bali, Indonesia. The visa cost me $800, but now, with a Canadian passport, I have easy access to the country, no visa required. I think that’s pretty wild.

However, I love a good challenge; I never shy away from it. If anything, having a Canadian passport will give me a greater appreciation of the gift of travel, and my newfound passport privilege will not be taken for granted.

Resources I’ve created in the past that are still very relevant today.

  • Read more about my experience and tips of traveling with a Nigerian passport.
  • Read my tips for increasing your chances of a successful visa application here.
  • Read the countries you can travel to with your Nigerian passport here.
  • Got a US visa? Here are the countries you can visit with it, apart from the US.

Moving forward – what’s next for me in this new phase?

The most significant aspects of being Canadian are two-fold – 1.) I can now vote, and 2.) I can travel to many places without needing a visa. The first one means I have to pay more attention to Canadian politics, something I’ve been passively paying attention to over the years. I’ll be exercising my right to vote in the next election.

The second one means I now have the privilege of traveling freely worldwide. I doubt my travel pace can increase more than where it already is; that is practically impossible. But my newly acquired passport privilege means I do not have to worry about visa requirements – something I always considered while planning my travels. It’s great to get that huge weight off my shoulders.

Conclusion

All in all, I am grateful for the journey and everything in between. Not going to lie. It has been so good. I’ve been so blessed. God has blessed me so much. The land has been good to me. This new citizenship status is the icing on the cake.

Thank you for reading.

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7 Comments

  1. One thing I have learnt from you over the years is choosing to be intentional about taking life at your own pace and everything good will come!
    Congratulations once again!!! This is absolutely amazing!!! I am so happy for you!!

  2. Great insights Ufuoma. What are the chances of converting a canadian visitors/tourist visa to students’

  3. Congratulations Jessica! I’ve read your blog for several years even though I’m not much of a travel enthusiast, and this post gladdens my heart. Happy to see you reach this milestone. Cheers to many more.

  4. I smiled a lot while reading this, congratulations 🎉. Really excited about all the opportunities that would come with the new passport too and ease of accessing them.
    The part you said “Canadian citizenship would come and it has” really hit. Everyone’s journey is indeed different and at the end of the day we all need to understand ourselves, accept it and journey on. Thanks for sharing this detailed post, most especially the physical presence calculator link.

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