Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Canada Introduces New Legislation to Extend Citizenship by Descent, Addressing First-Generation Limitations

In a landmark move to strengthen the bonds of Canadian citizenship across generations, the Government of Canada, led by the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, has introduced new legislation aimed at extending citizenship by descent beyond the first generation. This transformative action reflects Canada’s ongoing commitment to inclusivity and the recognition of the diverse circumstances of its citizens living abroad.

Historically, the Citizenship Act placed a first-generation limit on citizenship by descent, which has been a point of contention among Canadian citizens born outside Canada, as it restricted their ability to pass on citizenship to their children also born abroad. The proposed Bill C-71 seeks to amend this, restoring and extending citizenship rights in several critical ways:

  • Automatic conferment of Canadian citizenship to persons born abroad to a Canadian parent who is also born abroad prior to this legislation.
  • Extension of access to direct grants of citizenship to children born abroad and adopted by Canadian parents, going beyond the first generation.
  • Reinstatement of citizenship to “Lost Canadians,” individuals who were inadvertently stripped of or denied citizenship due to previous legislative oversights.

The Honourable Marc Miller emphasized, “With the introduction of Bill C-71, we are rectifying past oversights and making the process of citizenship by descent fairer and more transparent. Our goal is to protect the value of Canadian citizenship by ensuring it can be passed on to those with a genuine and lasting connection to our country. This legislation will help families make life choices without the constraints that previous laws imposed, such as decisions about where to live, work, study, or raise a family.”

Shafqat Ali, MP for Brampton Centre, noted the importance of the new legislation in connecting Canadians no matter where they are in the world: “This bill is about maintaining the Canadian heritage and ensuring that citizenship can be a legacy passed from one generation to the next, regardless of where a Canadian might be born or choose to live.”

Ruby Sahota, MP for Brampton North, highlighted the modern reality of Canadian families: “Today’s Canadian families are more global than ever before. This bill recognizes that reality and provides a pathway for citizenship that respects the deep, personal connections many Canadians maintain with our country, even if they reside abroad.”

Parvinder Singh Sandhu, Senior Director WWICS Groups observed that “The introduction of Bill C-71 is a pivotal development in Canadian immigration policy, directly addressing the limitations of citizenship by descent. This legislation effectively broadens the scope for passing on citizenship across generations of Canadians abroad, enhancing inclusivity and maintaining connections to our national identity. The provision for ‘Lost Canadians’ rectifies historical oversights, ensuring fairness and reinforcing trust in our citizenship laws” He Further added “the residency requirement for parents ensures that the ties to Canada are meaningful, preserving the integrity of Canadian citizenship. Overall, Bill C-71 represents a significant step towards adapting our citizenship laws to the realities of a globalized world.”

Bill C-71 also mandates that parents born abroad must spend at least 1,095 cumulative days in Canada before they can pass on citizenship to children born or adopted outside Canada following the legislation’s enactment.

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