Canada to expand second generation citizen rights

On May 23, 2024, the Canadian government introduced legislation in Parliament to allow more persons to become Canadian citizens by descent. In 2009 and 2015, Parliament passed legislation that extended Canadian citizenship to anyone who had a parent that was born in Canada, or naturalized in Canada before the person’s birth. This was done to fix the status of thousands of “lost Canadians” who lost their Canadian citizenship, or never acquired Canadian citizenship in the first place, because of the many technicalities of previous Canadian law. However, the 2009 and 2015 amendments cut off the right to citizenship after the first generation, with certain limited exceptions.

On December 19, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the second generation cutoff violated the Canadian Charter of Rights as applied to first generation Canadian citizen parents born outside of Canada. The Ontario court gave the government 6 months to enact new legislation. Since the new legislation is still under consideration in Parliament, the Ontario Court has given the government an extension of time until August 9.

The new legislation, if passed in its current form, would result in everyone becoming a Canadian citizen if their parent was a Canadian citizen at the time of their birth, even if the parent was born outside Canada.There is no apparent limit on the number of generations. However, there would be a new rule that would apply to children born after the new law comes in effect. These children would become citizens only if their Canadian citizen parent had lived in Canada for a total of 1,095 days before their birth.This is referred to as a “substantial connection to Canada” in the new law.

The government has also announced an interim program that would allow second generation persons with an urgent need to have their citizenship recognized to apply for a grant of citizenship under subsection 5(4) of the CItizenship Act. This would likely apply to persons with a job offer in Canada, or who have been admitted to a university in Canada, and similar circumstances.

Contact us now if you want more information about second generation citizen rights.