May 24, 2024

New Legislation Expands Canadian Citizenship by Descent

The Canadian government has introduced new legislation aimed at extending citizenship by descent. Canadian citizenship is highly valued around the world, offering the right to vote, run for political office, and hold a Canadian passport. For many immigrants, obtaining citizenship is a crucial step towards integration and provides a sense of belonging in a diverse and inclusive country that upholds the principles of democracy, equality, and multiculturalism.

In 2009, legislative changes to the Citizenship Act introduced a first-generation limit to citizenship by descent. This means that a Canadian citizen parent can pass on citizenship to a child born outside Canada only if the parent was either born in Canada or naturalized before the child's birth. As a result, Canadian citizens born outside Canada cannot pass on citizenship to their children born abroad, nor can they apply for a direct grant of citizenship for a child born outside Canada and adopted.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, introduced legislation to extend citizenship by descent beyond the first generation. This new legislation aims to be inclusive while maintaining the value of Canadian citizenship.

The proposed changes would automatically confer Canadian citizenship to individuals born abroad to a Canadian parent who was also born abroad before this legislation comes into force. It would also allow a direct grant of citizenship to children born abroad and adopted by a Canadian parent beyond the first generation. Following the enactment of this legislation, parents born abroad who have or adopt children also born outside Canada must have spent at least 1,095 cumulative days physically present in Canada before the birth or adoption of their child to pass on citizenship.

Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024), also aims to restore citizenship to "Lost Canadians"—individuals who lost or never acquired citizenship due to outdated provisions of previous citizenship laws. Additionally, it would grant citizenship to the descendants of "Lost Canadians" and to anyone born abroad to a Canadian parent in the second or subsequent generations before the legislation takes effect.

Individuals affected by the proposed changes in Bill C-71 will have questions about its implications for them and their families. If the bill passes in Parliament and receives royal assent, the government will work promptly to implement these changes and provide more information for eligible individuals on its website.