Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Application is in the Mail!

This past Monday, January 9, I mailed in Sarah's and my Canadian citizenship applications! What a relief to have that off in the mail. We had planned to send it in as soon as we were eligible, which was back in November, but we needed more time to gather the $200 per-person fee, so we waited until after the holidays.

The application process was relatively simple. All of the information you need to apply can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website.

They provide a checklist that you must include with your application so that you will be sure to include everything required.

Based on my experience going through the application process, here are some tips I have for others who will apply for citizenship.

1) Filling out the application--The application cannot be saved once you fill out the online PDF form. Be very sure the information is accurate before you print it and especially before you close it. If you find a mistake later, you will need to redo the entire application. Also, note that the instructions for the application require you to fill in many fields exactly as they appear on your immigration documents (record of landing, etc.).

2) Paying the fees--If you plan to pay the fees through a bank, as I did, instead of online by credit card, be sure to request the official receipt from the CIC. This will take a couple of weeks to arrive in the mail, so plan accordingly. Also, once you go to the bank to pay the fee, be sure to bring the receipt with you and also a printout of the instructions for paying through a financial institution which are hard to find on the site but can be found when you click here and scroll down just a bit. When I went to the bank to pay, I specifically asked to speak with a teller who had processed a citizenship application fee before.

3) Citizenship photos--As the instruction guide clearly states, citizenship photos are NOT the same as passport photos. I would suggest going to a reputable photographer who also does passport photos, but be sure to bring the CIC instructions for the photos to the photographer so he or she can see the exact dimensions. You may even want to ask if the photographer has done citizenship photos in the past. Ask the photographer to double check the requirements on the document and be sure the photos are correctly done. If the photos do not meet the specifications of the CIC, you will need to have them redone. Depending on where you go to get the photos done, they will cost about $10-$15. You are responsible for providing the information on the back of the photos, but most photographers will stamp the backs of the photos with their information and the date the photos were taken.

4) Residency calculator--The CIC provides an online residency calculator so you can be sure you actually meet your residency requirement before applying. The best thing about the residency calculator is that you can save it and update it. You can even save multiple residency calculators so that you maintain separate records for everyone in your family. If you have moved to Canada and are a permanent resident and ever think you may apply for citizenship, you should start using the residency calculator immediately to track your days outside of the country. It will be a lot easier to track these days as you go than to try to enter in three years' worth of trips all at once. I didn't know that the online calculator existed until about a year ago, so up until that time, I was using a paper calendar to track every trip Sarah and I took out of the country since we moved to Canada. You will then print and attach the residency calculator to your application.

5) Read all instructions before beginning the process--The last thing anyone wants is for their application to be returned because something was not filled in or completed correctly. Read the instructions very carefully and more than once. Search the CIC site for more information on any part of the application that isn't clear to you.

I have checked the processing times for the application, and the CIC site says it is currently taking 19 months. However, others I have spoken with, including immigration consultants, believe that the time is actually much shorter.

As I continue to go through this process, I will provide updates here that will hopefully be helpful to others who will go through the Canadian citizenship application.

I have attempted to provide relevant links in this entry, but the government likes to reorganize their site often, so it may be that these links are outdated quickly. However, you should still be able to find all the information you need on the CIC website by searching or following the links.

1 comment:

MSEH said...

Great post and how funny that I just started completing our forms yesterday. We've traveled out of country so much that even though we arrived in June '08, we're just now eligible. One note - as of yesterday the online fillable forms CAN be saved. Yea! Good luck and, yes, do keep us posted re your progress!