Importance Of Documenting Your Residency Background When Applying For Citizenship

The guidelines state that a person needs to reside in Canada 1095 days out of a four year period previous to applying for citizenship.

Up to now, these residency regulations have not been tightly defined. The government has been looking at amending the Citizenship Act for years, but no new act has made its way through Parliament that deals with a change in residency. It is, therefore, possible that even if you do not have 1095 days of residency, you could still apply and become a citizen of Canada, although it is not as automatic.

If possible, it is preferable to have the 1095 days before applying for citizenship. Where an applicant has been in Canada for 1095 days, then the only issue really becomes whether you can document those days, if it were to be questioned. If you are working full-time or studying full-time in Canada, have a residence in Canada, a driver’s license indicating residence in Canada and a provincial medical coverage, your application may be accepted without question. However, if circumstances suggest you may have been out of Canada for extended periods of time or that you travel frequently, documenting your days may become necessary. It is really important that you keep your passports, not just your current passports, but all expired passports for the four years qualifying you for citizenship. If the citizenship judge has any questions about the time that you have been in Canada and you cannot provide a passport for that relevant period, the judge can take a negative inference from that.

Sometimes tax returns are relevant to show that a person has been here for a certain period of time, or a letter from a Canadian employer confirming employment may be helpful We sometime use things like credit card receipts showing that the person has made charges on their credit card in Canada during certain periods of time to establish that they have been physically present in Canada. These are all useful, but nothing is absolute. It provides the overall picture, but there is no guarantee that the immigration official or the citizenship judge will be satisfied that the applicant has the necessary time accumulated to meet the residency requirement.

There are a different tests that have been approved for use by citizenship officials. Citizenship judges are allowed to use any of the tests as long as they clearly articulate which test they are using and apply it properly. The most stringent test would be based on actual presence in Canada; meaning that obtaining citizenship without the full 1095 days is strictly discretionary. A more lenient test focuses on the applicant’s centralized mode of living. For instance, an applicant may have less than 1095 days in the last four years, but he can show that in fact he has travelled for business or for other reasons and Canada remains his home. The applicant must show that his centralized mode of living is in Canada. For instance, his house is here, his family is here, he pays taxes here and he does not have strong connections in other countries. It is possible that a citizenship judge will still grant the citizenship to the applicant, even if he is short of the 1095 days required.

But it’s not a sure thing. You are never going to know until you get in front of a judge just how that judge is going to assess your case or which test the judge is going to use. It’s very important that a judge feels that you are being above board and that there is no misrepresentation. If a judge feels that an applicant is not being truthful about the days he claims to have been in Canada, it’s less likely that he is going to be granted that kind of discretion. In these cases, the judge will be more likely to deny the application.

Documenting residency is very important because there are two different scenarios to consider. In one scenario, the individual claims he has the 1095 days but his documents don’t contain proof of those days. In the other scenario, we actually file an application stating up front that the applicant has less than the 1095 days required and then make our case as to why they still should qualify for immigration. When an applicant is being forthright about his days of residency and his documents, and when he can establish what his links to Canada are, then he may have a better chance of qualifying for citizenship, even if he is lacking the necessary 1095 days.

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This article is taken from a December 12, 2007 interview with Joshua B. Sohn B.A., LL.B. an immigration lawyer with Embarkation Law Group, Vancouver immigration Lawyers. Note that laws vary from province to province. Please consult with a lawyer in your own area to be sure of the laws and specific issues in your own jurisdiction.