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Canada Expands Citizenship to Second Generation Born Abroad

In a landmark ruling in December 2023, Canada’s first generation limit to citizenship by descent was deemed unconstitutional.

The Canadian government was given a deadline until June 19, 2024, to amend the law in compliance with the court’s decision. In response, a bill proposing changes to the legislation is currently under consideration in Parliament. The key aspect of this proposal is that the person who is the first generation born abroad must have spent at least 1095 days (approximately three years) in Canada to be eligible to pass on their citizenship to subsequent generations.

Although the Court-imposed deadline has passed, Canada has yet to pass the bill into law. Complicating matters further, Parliament is currently in recess, delaying any immediate legislative action. As such, the court has granted the government an extension until August 9, 2024, to enact the new law.

In the interim, Canada appears to be processing applications for subsequent generations born abroad if the applicant can demonstrate an urgent need for Canadian citizenship. Examples of urgent needs include seeking to study in Canada, having a job offer in Canada, requiring access to social services, or facing statelessness. This interim measure does not require the first Canadian born abroad to prove previous residency in Canada.

In practice, this means that individuals whose grandparent was born in Canada may have a claim to Canadian citizenship, regardless of whether the individual’s parent was born in Canada. Currently, applicants must demonstrate an urgent need for Canadian citizenship, but this requirement is expected to change once the new law is passed later this summer.