U.S. and Canadian immigration laws allow citizens to have dual citizenships, i.e., you are not required to give up citizenship if you plan to obtain a second foreign nationality. If you are already a citizen of one of these countries, you can obtain the citizenship of the other without renouncing your original citizenship. However, the methods of obtaining dual citizenship in Canada and USA are different. The methods will be discussed here in detail. When you have acquired dual citizenship, you pledge allegiance to both countries and required to obey the laws of both countries.
Key Areas Covered
How to Get Citizenship
Since the USA and Canada are bordering countries, they share many similarities. One of the main similarity is their legal system, i.e., both countries follow the Anglo Law System. According to this system, there are three main ways to become a citizen:
Citizenship by Birth
If you were born in one of these countries, then you will automatically gain the citizenship of the country of your birth.
Citizenship by Marriage
If your spouse is a citizen of the USA or Canada, then you can apply for citizenship. Note that marriage doesn’t automatically grant you the citizenship status.
Citizenship by Naturalization
Naturalization is the legal act by which a non-citizen in a country may acquire citizenship or nationality of that country.
How to Get Dual Citizenship in Canada and USA
There is no special procedure to obtain dual citizenship in Canada and USA. If you are already a citizen of one of these countries, you can gain the citizenship of the other without renouncing your original citizenship. For example, if you are Canadian, you can apply for the USA citizenship without renouncing your Canadian citizenship. Gaining both these citizenships make you a dual citizen. However, obtaining dual citizenship is a complicated process that takes time.
How to Become a US Citizen
If you were not born in the USA, and don’t have parents who have US citizenship, you have to go through a complicated process. First, you have to apply for a green card, which allows you permanent residence status. There are three criteria that make you eligible for a green card:
- Having close relatives who are US citizens or permanent residents
- Been offered a job in the United States where the employer is unable to find a qualified US worker to fill the position
- Investing more than $1 million USD in a US business
Once you have been a permanent resident for 5 years (at least half of this duration must be spent in the USA) you can apply for citizenship. But you must fulfill several requirements in order to be considered eligible for US citizenship.
You can decide whether you are eligible for citizenship by filling out this “Eligibility Worksheet”, which is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
This citizenship process also involves attending an interview and facing an exam, where your knowledge of English language, US history and government will be tested.
How to Become a Canadian Citizen
The process of obtaining Canadian citizenship is somewhat similar to that of obtaining US citizenship. Before you begin the application process, you have to gain the permanent resident status. You must also have been physically present in Canada for at least 1,095 days within the five years preceding your citizenship application.
Since Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, the citizenship applicants must also prove their fluency in either English or French. Applicants also have to pass a test on Canadian culture, government and history. You can know more details about applying for Canadian citizenship here.
Once the government approves your application and grants you citizenship status, you will be a dual citizen of Canada and USA. When you become a dual citizen you pledge allegiance to both countries. You are also expected to uphold and follow the laws of both countries.