July 24, 2020

Important Changes to Rules on Canadian Citizenship by Descent

Posted by Athena Portokalidis - Bellissimo Law Group PC

The Canadian Federal Government has recently changed the rules on Canadian citizenship by descent, or by virtue of being born to a Canadian citizen parent. Before the July 2020 changes, only biological parents could pass down Canadian citizenship to their children born outside of Canada.[1] As of this month, non-biological parents can now pass down their Canadian citizenship to their children born outside of Canada if they are the child’s legal parent at birth.[2]However, this does not change the rules for children born outside of Canada who are adopted by Canadian citizen parents after their birth.[3]

This change is reflected in the Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada Glossary available online:

            Legal parent at birth

The biological or non-biological parent listed on the original birth certificate or birth record of a child. This does not include

  • Parents who adopted the child after they were born
  • Legal guardians[4]

This comes as a welcome change for many, including same-sex couples where one or both of the parents do not have a genetic link to the child to which they wish to pass their Canadian citizenship. A same-sex couple in this very situation were the reason for this change, as they challenged the law in Court when they discovered that their son did not automatically get Canadian citizenship as his Canadian parent’s “biological material was not used for his conception.”[5] Thankfully, with this update to the rules, Canada has made an important step forward in making the citizenship process more inclusive and demonstrative of the diversity of Canadian families.[6]