Canadian Citizenship, US Residence, & Domestic Tuition?


I am currently enrolled at a Public High School in Washington State, USA. My family takes frequent trips into Canada, and it recently dawned on me that I could think seriously about going to college across the border. I have family there, and the idea of going to school in Canada greatly appeals to me.

Nevertheless, cost will play a large part in where I decide to go to college. International tuition for some of Canada’s top universities is still a pretty penny, and would be hard for my family and me to afford. However, my dad was born in Canada, so I could gain dual citizenship easier than most. This, I think, could possibly make me able to pay domestic tuition instead, which is far cheaper and more accessible for my family and my financial means.

My questions are, can I still qualify for domestic tuition in Canada if I live (and go to high school) in the States? Or to qualify, do I have to be not only a citizen, but a permanent resident as well?

I’d appreciate the counsel of anyone familiar with this kind of thing, as well as any resources (contact info, websites, etc.) that could direct me to getting this information elsewhere.

Thank you all so much.

You only need to prove your Canadian citizenship. You and your family would need to go through the process of claiming your Canadian citizenship which can take several months.

You can maneuver through this website.
Apply for citizenship: Who can apply -

EDIT: And this new CC format will not show the detailed website. :frowning:

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Thank you so much!

If your dad was born in Canada, you’re likely a Canadian citizen. See the link below for an application for a Certificate of Canadian citizenship:

As for tuition, Canada is like the United States in that you would need to show established residency in the province in which you want to attend university. Best of luck!

@GoldPenn That is incorrect. Canada is not like the US. To pay Canadian tuition you only need to show proof of citizenship. Residency is irrelevant.

Except in Quebec there is no in province/out of province tuition differential. There is only Canadian/international tuition rates. Even in Quebec this student would qualify for the Canadian rate and possibly the Quebec rate if he was born outside of Canada.

In Québec, there is a three tier tuition structure: Québec, non-Québec Canadian, and international. In other provinces, there are only two tiers, Canadian and international.

Tuition at Canadian universities also varies by major, unlike at most universities in the US.

I just did a quick check on the UBC website (one of my top picks for university), and it says this:
"As a Canadian student, you are eligible for domestic tuition fees at UBC if:

  • You are a Canadian citizen;
  • You hold multiple citizenships and one of them is Canadian;
  • You are a permanent resident of Canada;
  • You have refugee status in Canada; or
  • You are the dependent of a diplomat assigned to Canada."
    So, it seems like you would not have to “show established residency in the province in which you want to attend university”… at least at UBC.

You are correct and that is the case at all Canadian universities.

We were in a very similar situation, but living on the other side of the US. I was born in Canada. My daughters were born in the US. By US law they are US citizens because they were born here. By Canadian law they are Canadian citizens because I was born in Canada. It sounds like you are in exactly the same situation as my daughters. I believe that you are already a Canadian citizen – you just need to get the documentation to confirm this.

You need to get a “certificate of Canadian citizenship”. This takes multiple months. You should get the application sent in ASAP. In our cases the local Canadian consulate was very helpful in this process. However, you should get this started now if you are going to be attending university this coming September. What year of high school are you in?

Once you have a certificate of Canadian citizenship, you will want to get a Canadian passport. You need this by the time that you actually show up at the border to go to university. It is quite quick to get once you have the certificate of Canadian citizenship.

Then you look at Canadian universities and apply to Canadian universities. We found the application process very quick and straightforward.

One thing to watch for: A couple of universities in Canada missed the fact that my daughters have dual citizenship. Along with the acceptance they sent information about the cost for international students and how to apply for a student visa. A quick call to admissions plus a fax (of either the certificate or passport) fixed this quickly and easily.

And yes, you will pay the same tuition as a Canadian citizen (which you are). If you have never lived in Canada and if you attend McGill then you will probably get in-province tuition, which is even less. For us McGill is pretty close by. However, since you live in Washington state you probably would want to attend somewhere closer. UBC, Simon Fraser, and the University of Victoria are also very good and pretty close if you are anywhere near Seattle. There are many other good schools in Canada that we can suggest when the time comes. At least for us the cost of attending university in Canada is lower than the cost of our in-state public university, and this is even with a very good merit scholarship that we were offered by the in-state public university. The quality of education at universities in Canada is also very good.


@TomSrOfBoston Wow, that is so interesting. Thanks for the correction. I assumed all provinces were like Quebec. It has been more than 20 years since I’ve lived in Canada. It sounds refreshingly simple!

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@DadTwoGirls Thank you so much! Yes, you were in almost the exact same situation, just different side of the US. I will not be attending university for a little while yet (not this coming September), but my family and I will make sure to start the “certificate of Canadian citizenship” process ASAP; it seems like the sooner the better for these things.
Thank you again for your thorough guidance! It is much appreciated.

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Let us know if you want more information. For example there are quite a few universities in Canada to consider. Best wishes!

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We have a similar situation. My daughter was just accepted to Concordia University for the Fall 2021 under the Canadian Citizen Status
From my conversation with a Financial Counselor @ Concordia, the only financial assistance she could get is Direct/Indirect Student Loan($5500) per year. She does not qualify for scholarships/Pell/Tap/grants because she is studying in Canada. I have also been told she would qualify for Quebec resident fees until her second year. I see in your post you mentioned getting
in-province tuition. Were you referring to the first year?

I am figuring the cost of attending Concordia to be~24,000 per year Canadian/$17,000 US. This is quite a difference compared to New York State School SUNY schools that would cost ~ 3000 per year.

Am I missing something here? The cost seems high compared to the packages being offered by some American Schools- the cost per year being under $6000.

Just curious what your thoughts are since we seem to be in a similar situation

That sounds about right to me. There is some merit based aid at some universities in Canada, but it seems to be rare. We did not end up applying to Concordia but we did visit it and liked the school.

“SUNY schools that would cost ~ 3000 per year.”

That sounds like quite a good deal. Does this include living costs or could your child live at home? Living at home is a big money saver when you are looking at costs this low.