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Canadian Immigration Blog


Born Abroad to Canadian Parents: What’s the Stance on Citizenship?

October 5, 2015
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One common question that immigration professionals are often asked is whether or not a child born outside Canada to a Canadian parent is a citizen of Canada.  Many scenarios exist that may render different answers.

Generally, if a child was born outside Canada and at least one of their parents was born in Canada, the child is likely a Canadian citizen.

On 17 April 2009, the Citizenship Act was amended and changes to citizenship rules regarding who is or who is not a Canadian citizen were affected. These changes apply to children whose parent was not born in Canada, but became a citizen through naturalization. Naturalization is the formal process by which a person can become a Canadian citizen. The person must usually become a permanent resident first and fulfill certain criteria generally including a residency requirement, knowledge of basic English or French, and knowledge about Canada.

If a child was born outside of Canada before 17 April 2009, and the Canadian parent is a naturalized Canadian citizen, the child is presumably a Canadian. However, if the child was born after 17 April 2009, the child will only be Canadian if the parent was a naturalized citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

For example, if a child is born outside of Canada in 2011 and the parent becomes a naturalized Canadian citizen in 2012, the child will not be a Canadian citizen. However, if the child was born in 2011, and the parent became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 2007, the child will be a Canadian citizen, since the parent was Canadian at the time of the child’s birth.

Every situation is unique and there are other factors and criteria that need to be considered. For example, specific regulations are in place that limit Canadian citizenship to the first generation born outside Canada and the rules may also affect children adopted by Canadian parents outside Canada. Therefore, the best way to determine whether or not a child is Canadian is to apply for proof of citizenship through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). If the child is found to be Canadian, they will receive a Canadian citizenship certificate, which can then be used to apply for a Canadian passport.

Children who are already citizens of another country will need to determine whether or not their citizenship status in that country may be affected by applying for a Canadian citizenship certificate. Some countries allow for dual citizenship with Canada while others require the original citizenship to be relinquished in order to obtain Canadian citizenship.

For more information on citizenship, please click here.


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