What is the “Physical Presence” Rule for Canadian Citezenship?

Regardless of age, if you’re thinking about applying for Canadian citizenship, you must be a permanent resident of Canada. Applying (yes! you still make an application) for citizenship is recommended to do as soon as possible for a number of reasons and depending on your situation. Becoming a citizen grants you the right to vote, apply for a passport and not have to worry about meeting the residency obligation applicable to permanent residents. Most importantly, you become a citizen of one of the greatest countries in the world! Once you’re a citizen, you are no longer a permanent resident and do not require to renew your card and pay a fee every five years.  

In this article, we turn our attention to how to do the math when calculating the number of days necessary to have lived in Canada prior to starting an application. The key is to tackle a misunderstood component of the Citizenship act that may shed light into making an application earlier than you previously thought. We’ve got good news — you may be eligible to apply sooner if you were a temporary resident.

1095 Day Rule

As a basic rule of thumb, all adults and certain minors must have physically lived in Canada for at least 1095 days during the five years right before signing a citizenship application. Physical presence cannot include any time beyond the five-year period. Generally speaking, trips and vacations outside Canada will deduct from the number of physical days in Canada so be extra cautious about documenting your travels to ensure you’ve met the 1095 day rule. However,  absences will be counted only for days where you spend no time at all in Canada.

Here’s the part you may not have known about or it may have caused confusion — If you had legal status in Canada as a visitor, student, worker or protected person you may count each day spent on temporary status as a “half-day” when you calculate the 1095 day total within the five year period prior to making an application.  But wait! Here’s the MOST important part to take with that last sentence — you can only use a maximum of 365 days.

Here’s an example of the 1095 Day Rule

Mr Jonas has been a worker in Canada since January 1, 2014. He officially became a permanent resident of Canada on September 1, 2016. He signed an application for citizenship on September 1, 2018. How many days can he include while he was a temporary resident (worker)? The answer is 365 days — that’s all! Mr Jonas clearly had worker status for more than 730 days (falling short of 3 years), but all days only count as “half a day” (all days divided by 2) and only 365 days can be taken into consideration because that’s the maximum days our citizenship rules will allow. In addition, these days fall within the 5 years preceding his application.

Can I apply when I meet exactly 1095 days?

To err on the side of caution, we always recommend giving yourself a few extra weeks as leverage towards physical days spent in Canada if you’re concerned you just make the 1095 day minimum. Of course, assuming you meet all other eligibility requirements. Giving yourself extra days spent in Canada may come in handy if a travel history report from CBSA notes a vacation or trip outside Canada you forgot to mention in your application! Remember, you must meet eligibility at the time of signing an application.

As the applicant, it is your responsibility to make sure you record your travel history over the entire period. Even if you left Canada and returned on the same day, it is necessary to record day trips on the appropriate form to make sure you’ve met sufficient days in Canada.

Is Physical Presence the only eligibility requirement?

Simply put, no. There are other eligibility requirements for citizenship. In some cases, this may involve obtaining a police clearance(s) if you lived in certain countries for a duration of the time prior to your application.

If you have any further questions about Immigrating to Canada, please get in touch, call +1 (604) 265-4966 or email.