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New Bill Proposes Changes to Canadian Citizenship

Updated: May 27

The Canadian government is making significant changes to citizenship rules with Bill C-71, the "Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024)". This is great news for many Canadians, particularly those with children born abroad. Here's a breakdown of the key points:

Understanding the Current Citizenship Act

The existing Citizenship Act enforces a first-generation limit for citizenship by descent. This rule allows Canadian parents to pass on their citizenship to children born outside Canada only if the parent was either born in Canada or naturalized before the child’s birth. Consequently, Canadian citizens born abroad face restrictions in passing on their citizenship to their children or adopting children abroad and applying for their citizenship.

Judicial Intervention and Government Response

On December 19, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice declared the first-generation limit for those born abroad unconstitutional. Acknowledging the adverse consequences of this rule, the Government of Canada chose not to appeal the decision. Instead, they have proposed Bill C-71 to amend the Citizenship Act and address these challenges.

What is Changing?

Bill C-71 introduces several vital changes to make the citizenship process more inclusive and equitable:

  1. Automatic Citizenship Restoration: The bill will automatically grant citizenship to individuals who would have been citizens if not for the first-generation limit. This ensures that those affected by the previous rule are granted citizenship without needing to undergo additional procedures.

  2. Substantial Connection Test: This allows Canadian parents born abroad to pass on citizenship to their children born outside Canada, beyond the first generation, if they have a significant connection to Canada. A substantial connection is defined as having spent at least 1,095 days (approximately three years) physically present in Canada before the child’s birth or adoption.

  3. Direct Grant of Citizenship for Adopted Children: Parents who meet the substantial connection requirement can apply for a direct grant of citizenship for children born abroad and adopted beyond the first generation.

Who are lost Canadians?

The term "Lost Canadians" refers to individuals who lost or never acquired Canadian citizenship due to outdated provisions in previous citizenship laws. While amendments in 2009 and 2015 resolved many cases, some categories of Lost Canadians and their descendants were excluded.

Bill C-71 aims to restore citizenship to these remaining individuals and their descendants, including those born abroad to Canadian parents in the second or subsequent generations before the new legislation takes effect. This includes individuals who lost their citizenship due to requirements under the former section 8 of the Citizenship Act.


Kickstarting your journey to Canadian citizenship

If you are impacted by this bill and are now eligible for citizenship, we are here to help! You can read our blog on how to apply for Canadian citizenship or send us an email / schedule a session with one of our Licensed and Experienced Immigration consultants.

The journey from being an immigrant to a Canadian citizen involves meeting residency requirements, passing the citizenship test, and taking the Oath of Citizenship. We invite you to book a consultation with our experienced team to ensure you are well-informed and on the right path towards achieving your immigration goals.

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