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New Bill Proposed to Expand Canadian Citizenship by Descent

By Casey May 29, 2024 2 min. read
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Immigration Minister Marc Miller has introduced Bill C-71, a proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act, aimed at expanding eligibility for Canadian citizenship by descent. Currently, the law restricts citizenship transmission to the first generation born abroad, but this bill would allow second-generation Canadians born outside of Canada to pass on their citizenship to their children.

Addressing ‘Lost Canadians’ and Fairness Concerns

The bill also seeks to rectify the issue of “Lost Canadians,” individuals who lost or were never able to obtain Canadian citizenship due to outdated laws. The Minister aims to create a more inclusive and equitable system by addressing the “unacceptable consequences” faced by families with Canadian heritage but born outside the country.

New Residency Requirement for Parents Born Abroad

While the bill expands eligibility for citizenship by descent, it also introduces a new requirement for parents born abroad. To pass on their citizenship, they must have lived in Canada for at least three calendar years (1,095 days) before the birth or adoption of their child. This provision aims to ensure a genuine connection to Canada before transmitting citizenship to the next generation.

Court Ruling and Government Response

The proposed changes come after a recent court decision declared the existing second-generation limit unconstitutional. The government, agreeing with the ruling, chose not to appeal and acknowledged the need for reform to address the unfair consequences for Canadian families residing abroad.

Proof of Citizenship Requirements and Processing Times

Under current regulations, individuals born abroad must obtain a Canadian citizenship certificate to confirm their status. This involves proving that one of their parents was a Canadian citizen at the time of their birth. Processing times for these applications can vary, with an average of three months for those residing in Canada or the United States.

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