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Bill C-71: An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024)

Bill C-71: An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024)


The Citizenship Act contains a first-generation limit to citizenship by descent, which means that a Canadian citizen parent can pass on citizenship to a child born outside Canada if the parent was either born in Canada or naturalized before the birth of the child. Canadians born or naturalized in Canada before adopting a child born abroad can apply for a direct grant of citizenship for the adopted child.

As a result of the first-generation limit, Canadian citizens who were born outside Canada cannot pass on citizenship to their child born outside Canada, and cannot apply for a direct grant of citizenship for a child born outside Canada and adopted.


On December 19, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice declared that the first-generation limit for those born abroad is unconstitutional. The Government of Canada did not appeal the ruling because we agree that the law has unacceptable consequences for Canadians whose children were born outside the country.

The government is introducing legislation to make the citizenship process as fair and transparent as possible. Bill C-71 would

  • automatically remedy the status of any person already born who would have been a citizen were it not for the first-generation limit
  • establish a new framework for citizenship by descent going forward that would allow for access to citizenship beyond the first generation based on a substantial connection to Canada

Substantial connection test

Bill C-71 would allow a Canadian parent born abroad who has a substantial connection to Canada to pass on citizenship to their child born abroad beyond the first generation. It would also provide them with access to the direct grant of citizenship for their child born abroad and adopted beyond the first generation.

To demonstrate a substantial connection to Canada, a Canadian parent who was born abroad would need to have a cumulative 1,095 days of physical presence in Canada before the birth or adoption of the child.

Lost Canadians

The term “Lost Canadians” has generally been used to describe those who lost or never acquired citizenship due to certain outdated provisions of former citizenship legislation.

Most cases were remedied by changes to the law in 2009 and 2015. These changes allowed people to gain Canadian citizenship or get back the citizenship they lost. Despite this, additional amendments are needed to include other categories of Lost Canadians and their  descendants who did not benefit from the 2009 and 2015 changes.

Bill C-71 will restore citizenship to any remaining “Lost Canadians,” their descendants and anyone who was born abroad to a Canadian parent in the second or subsequent generations before the legislation comes into force. This includes people who lost their citizenship as a result of requirements under the former section 8 of the Citizenship Act.


Link:, dated May 23, 2024 10:59 am

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