IRCC Immigration Update: New Legislation for Citizenship by Descent

In this guide, our experts at Immigration Nation offer an overview of the recent changes introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The new policy, outlined in Bill C-71, proposes significant updates to the Citizenship Act, particularly extending citizenship by descent beyond the first generation. On May 23, 2024, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced this bill. It aims to resolve long-standing issues faced by Canadians born abroad and their descendants. If passed, the legislation will restore citizenship to “Lost Canadians” and automatically grant citizenship to children of Canadians born abroad. This update signifies a major shift in Canada’s approach to citizenship, focusing on inclusivity and fairness.

DETAILED OVERVIEW

Introduction of Bill C-71

On May 23, 2024, Minister Marc Miller introduced Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024), to the Canadian Parliament. This bill aims to extend citizenship by descent beyond the first generation, addressing restrictions from the 2009 amendment. Previously, only children born abroad to parents who were either born in Canada or naturalized Canadians were eligible for citizenship. This limitation excluded many with genuine ties to Canada, leading to the term “Lost Canadians.”

Key Provisions and Eligibility

The new bill allows children born abroad to Canadian parents who were also born outside Canada to be eligible for Canadian citizenship. The Canadian parent must have spent at least 1,095 days (about three years) physically present in Canada before the child’s birth or adoption. This ensures a strong connection to Canada while extending citizenship rights to more individuals.

The bill also aims to restore citizenship to those who lost it or never acquired it due to outdated provisions in past legislation. It provides a pathway for descendants of “Lost Canadians” to reclaim their citizenship. This change is a step toward correcting past injustices and promoting inclusivity in the Canadian citizenship framework.

Implementation and Future Steps

If Bill C-71 passes in Parliament and receives royal assent, IRCC will quickly implement the changes. Detailed guidelines and processes will be provided to eligible individuals. The bill follows a December 2023 Ontario Superior Court ruling that declared the second-generation cut-off rule unconstitutional, having a disproportionate impact on Canadians born abroad. The government’s decision not to appeal this ruling aligns with its commitment to fairness and inclusivity in citizenship matters.

Conclusion

The introduction of Bill C-71 represents a significant shift in Canada’s citizenship policies, aiming to rectify exclusionary practices of the past and extend citizenship rights to more individuals with genuine connections to Canada. This move is part of Canada’s broader goal to foster inclusivity and fairness in its immigration and citizenship processes.

At Immigration Nation, we understand the complexities of immigration policies and are here to help you navigate these changes. If you seek further guidance with your application process, please feel free to contact us at Immigration Nation, where our team of experts will ensure your application is prepared for success!

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