June 18, 2024

Bill C-71: Citizenship Act Amendment for Canadian Citizenship by Descent beyond First Generation

Posted by Lijing Cao - Bellissimo Law Group PC

Canadian citizenship grants important rights and privileges to those who hold this status. Canadian citizens have the right to participate in Canadian elections by voting, and they enjoy the freedom to reside and work anywhere in Canada. These rights apply equally to individuals who acquire citizenship through birth in Canada and those through naturalization.

On 19 December 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rendered a landmark decision in the case of Bjorkquist et al. v. Attorney General of Canada. The Court ruled that the first-generation limit to Canadian citizenship by descent under section 3(3)(a) of the Citizenship Act is unconstitutional. On 23 May 2024, the Government of Canada introduced legislation, Bill C-71: An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024), which would extend citizenship by descent beyond the first generation based on a substantial connection to Canada.

The proposed new legislation introduces a substantial connection test to allow a Canadian parent born abroad, who acquires Canadian citizenship by descent, to pass on citizenship to their child born abroad. To meet the substantial connection test, a Canadian parent born abroad would need to demonstrate they have accumulated at least 1,095 days of physical presence in Canada before the birth or adoption of the child.

If Bill C-71 is enacted, the restriction on citizenship by descent for the first generation would be removed, which will open a new pathway to Canadian citizenship for those individuals who were previously not eligible due to the second-generation cut-off rule.

This article is prepared for information only and it is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions or would like to discuss potential immigration options, please do not hesitate to contact our team.