Citizenship Exam Day In Ottawa

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +
Downtown Buildings Reflecting

Downtown Buildings Reflecting

So here I was, this morning, trying to remember which province joined the Confederation last (in case you want to know, it’s Newfoundland in 1949).

I studied for the exam the previous day, using the booklet the CIC sent me, A Look At Canada. I also took some free online practice tests, such as Say I Love Canada. I guess I knew quite a lot about Canada already, but I’m one of those people who can’t show up at an exam without actually preparing it beforehand. I’d be way to nervous. Studying and learning make me feel confident — yes, I know, I’m boring.

I was a bit stressed out about the administrative part of the test though. To apply for permanent residence, you need – among other requirements – to have at least 1095 days of physical presence in Canada at the time of your application. Calculating days of presence is a pain in the ass, since you need to subtract days you were outside Canada. Remembering the exact dates is not easy, especially over a four years period. Plus, passports are usually stamped when you come back to Canada, not when you leave. I gave a bit of room in my application to make sure I had enough days.

But I had read that before the citizenship test, passports stamps are checked carefully by immigration officers and that if you seem to have too many stamps, you may be asked to have an interview with a judge and/ or fill up a residency questionnaire to show that you are indeed living in Canada. I think officials are also getting tougher on people who want to get Canadian citizenship but do not plan to stay and live in Canada.

And even though I did nothing wrong, I felt bad because my passport has so many stamps. The few trips we took to France to see my family can easily be explained. But French passports are valid for 10 years and I got mine in 2003, so I also have a lot of Central America stamps (from our travels before I came to live here). Plus the trip to China last summer and of course, the Central and South America trip this winter, with a lot of Argentinean and Chilean stamps because we kept on going back and forth in Southern Patagonia. Throw in a few U.S stamps on top of that and I was afraid I might be misinterpreted.

I could explain and justify everything but it seemed like a hassle. Hence my nervousness.

The test was technically scheduled at 11:00 am but I arrived ahead of time. There were a lot of people in the waiting room already and nobody showed up at the last minute. I guess we were all a bit nervous.

I had to bring my passport, permanent resident card, my original landing immigrant document (IMM5292), two pieces if ID and the notice to appear to the test. One by one, we gave the documents to an officer. I was surprised to see that so many people didn’t bring the right documents or were missing some IDs, but the officer seemed to be used to it.

Back to the waiting room, we were called one by one for a short interview. I was asked where I worked, for how long etc.. I assume all the officers were bilingual but the interview was in English, which I did not mind.

I heard some other applicants who struggled with their language skilled and for some, further questions were asked. Where were the kids going to school, do you volunteer somewhere, what do you study etc.

My passport stamps or absences were not checked in front of me (but I’m sure the officer at a look at my passport before calling me) and no questions were asked.

After the interview, we all proceeded in the room and were given a clipboard and a pencil. Further instructions were given in both official languages. The test was also available in French but nobody asked for it. I had studied the book in English and once again, I did not care which language I used.

There were 20 multiple choices questions, the pass mark being 12/20. However, it was compulsory to answer questions 16 and 17 right (both dealing with the election process) as well as the last 3 questions (all dealing with the government structure).

The test itself is not really difficult but some questions are tricky and it is necessary to learn the booklet. A general knowledge of Canada isn’t enough for questions such as “when did Nunavut become a territory?” or “which provinces joined to form the Confederation in 1867?“.

Once the test finish, we just handed back the answer sheet and left.

If applicants pass the test and meet citizenship requirements, the next and final step is the citizenship ceremony. We do not get the test results, basically, if you are invited to the ceremony, it’s all good.

Wish me luck! Should be another few months before the ceremony if everything goes well…


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Malaysians use ‘smart’ passports with chips. No stamping whether we leave or come back to this country! We need special device to read the information – no good.

    Waiting for good news from you 😉

  2. Oh Zhu… You’ll see everything will be fine!

    We’ve received our booklet a couple of weeks ago and between chores I try to read something… Let’s see… I guess that by the time I know the exam date I’ll start rushing with the reading. You know how it works…

    I was told that you are somewhat examined in your ability to talk english or french. Did that happen to you? May be not because you are french so they just skipped that part… Have you seen others being tested on their lang skills?

  3. @Khengsiong – That sounds like a James Bond movie 😆 Why do they have this system though? Stamps too Old school?

    @Guillermo – Thank you!

    I was the same, studied last minute… 😉

    The only language ability test you get is being able to understand the test questions (in either French or English) and the little chat with the officer. Basics “how are you”, “where do you work”, “please sign here” etc. You won’t have any problem!

  4. Nunavut joined in 1999:p If I’m correct and I forgot the last question. What bothers me the most are people who apply for citizenship but never live in Canada. They so don’t deserve it!

    I’m sure you did excellent!

  5. Would it be premature of me to welcome you as a citizen of Canada? You seem to have been very well prepared and I’m sure you passed.
    But, just in case, Good luck!

  6. Hi Zhu.

    I just came here to wish you good luck !!!

    I’m sure you’re gonna achieve this, and many others things to come.

    Really, good luck.

  7. i wish you all the luck, zhu. but i have a feeling you don’t need luck, because you prepared and you engineered your own fate. maybe i should wish canada luck instead?
    ah, yes, the trick questions. they annoy me. they don’t measure whether you know a subject. they don’t measure your familiariy and knowledge. they measure whether or not you are paying attention.
    an i hate that, because i never do. it’s like those questions where they ask if an airplane crashed exactly on the border between the united states and canada, where do they bury the survivors? of course, i’ll sit there for twenty minutes wondering if the ground is too frozen in canada to permit burial…

  8. eek. i was the 13th response. so i’m making a 14th response too, because 13 is bad luck.
    you’d think on a 20-question test, they’d at least leave off question 13, like the middle square in bingo…

  9. Congratulations Zhu!! 🙂 I’m sure you did great, but either way Good Luck! 😀 And thanks for the explanation, I didn’t know the details ^^

  10. @Bluefish – Yes, for Nunavut, it’s April 1st, 1999. And Newfoundland was the last province to join the Confederation, in 1949 😉

    @Beth – As the French say, “don’t sell the bear’s skin before you kill it” 😆 But I certainly do hope to be Canadian this year!

    @Mauro – Thank you so much, it’s really sweet of you! I take good luck wishes, they are always useful 🙂

    @Baoru – 谢谢!

    @beaverboosh – French and Canadian, Canadian and French… Yep. 🙂

    @Agnes – Thanks…eh! 😆

    @Final_Transit – Thank you! I picked up the award now (sorry, my mind was elsewhere this week!), it’s in my “fame” page.

    @Soleil – It is important to me, hence the preparation… Can’t wait to the oath either!

    @Shantanu – Thank you!

    @Seraphine – I feel exactly the same about multiple choice questions! I hate them always think there is a fifth answer, or that none of the answer truly fits 😆

    We don’t have MCQ in Europe, we write essays for everything.

    @Aiglee – Thank you! Yes, it will be your turn soon enough too…

    @Linguist-in-Waiting – Thanks! I hope so do *crossing fingers*

  11. Max Coutinho on

    Hey Zhu,

    No, girl…you are not boring: you are an organised person, that’s all :D!

    I agree with the Canadian Government cause many people take the citizenship of Western Countries and then do not live there…and if they don’t, they won’t pay taxes (in its million forms); they won’t discount for social security; so what’s the point of having the citizenship? To avoid asking for visas? Well, it doesn’t work that way any longer…

    Darling, bonne chance :D! I am sure you will pass and be invited to the ceremony *hug*!

    I’m rooting for you!


  12. @Max Coutinho – Thank you Max for you nice wishes! I kind of agree with you… as much as I can understand some people who want a Canadian passport, if you are not living there, what’s the point?

  13. hi, I have a question about your story! hope you can help!
    did the officer question you about all the tims you had left the country while your application was in process?

    i appreciate your help! thanks

    • As I said in the article, no, not really. He obviously saw various exit and entry stamps but I had more than the required numbers of physical presence days so no issue here.

  14. HI
    I just got my letter announcing the day of my exam! They request that I bring my passport. Do they keep your passport or just review it and return it to you? I am scheduled to travel the week after my exam and will need my passport (plus I am not keen on letting CIC keep my home-country passport since dual citizenship seems to be ok).

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog,

    • Hi,


      No, no one keeps your passport. It’s just used to confirm your identity but it will be returned to you immediately.

      Where are you taking the oath?

Reply To Shantanu Cancel Reply