There are two processes that you must go through when you adopt a child from another country: the adoption process and the citizenship process.
In order for your adopted child to be eligible for a grant of citizenship, both you and your adopted child must meet all requirements for both processes. This must happen before you can bring the child to live with you in Canada.
Who can apply for Canadian citizenship for an adopted person:
- a Canadian citizen* can apply on behalf of an adopted child (or to be adopted in the near future) who is under 18 years of age at the time of adoption
- the adopted person if they are 18 years or older at the time of adoption and were adopted by a Canadian citizen*
- a legal guardian or a non-Canadian adoptive parent applying on behalf of an adopted child under 18, if the child had at least one Canadian parent* when he or she was adopted.
*Only some Canadian citizens may pass on their citizenship to their children (biological or adopted). For more information, see below.
Canadian citizenship eligibility
To be eligible for a grant of Canadian citizenship:
the adopted person must
- have been adopted on or after January 1, 1947
- the adopted person must have at least one (1) adoptive parent who, at the time of the adoption, was or is a Canadian citizen who was:
- born in Canada;
- naturalized in Canada (became a citizen after coming to Canada as a permanent resident); or
- working outside Canada as an employee of the Canadian government, a province, or serving with the Canadian Forces at the time of the adoption.
- the adoption must meet the requirements of the Citizenship Act.
When a Canadian citizen adopts a child under 18, the adoption must:
- be in the best interests of the child
- create a genuine parent-child relationship that permanently severs the legal ties to the child’s biological parents
- observe the laws of the child’s home country and the laws where the adoptive parents live
- not have been entered into simply to acquire citizenship or immigration status or privilege.
An adoption of a person 18 and older by a Canadian citizen must meet all the criteria listed above except for “be in the best interests of the child.” Also, there must have been a genuine parent-child relationship both before the child turned 18 as well as when the adoption took place.
On April 17, 2009, the law changed to limit citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada. This change may affect children adopted from outside Canada.
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