July 11, 2023

Canadian Citizenship Cut-Off for Second Generation Explained

Canadian citizenship is an esteemed status that offers numerous benefits and opportunities to individuals. However, the eligibility criteria for Canadian citizenship have evolved over the years, particularly regarding the transmission of citizenship to the second generation born outside Canada. In this article, we delve into the concept of the Canadian citizenship cut-off for second-generation individuals, exploring its history, legal implications, and the current lawsuit challenging the policy. Additionally, we provide insights into the process of applying for proof of Canadian citizenship.


The Evolution of Canadian Citizenship Laws:

The Canadian Citizenship Act, first enacted in 1947, has undergone several amendments to shape the rules governing citizenship by descent. For many years, Canadian parents could pass citizenship to their children born outside Canada through indefinite generations, provided the descendants registered with the government within a specified timeframe. This practice aimed to maintain a connection to Canada for future generations.


Introduction of the Second-Generation Cut-Off:

In 2009, the Canadian government introduced a significant change to citizenship laws by implementing a cut-off for second-generation Canadians born abroad. The amendment aimed to discourage "Canadians of convenience" and ensure a genuine connection to Canada. Diane Finley, the immigration minister at the time, emphasized the importance of real ties to the country.


The Lawsuit Challenging the Second-Generation Cut-Off:

Currently, a lawsuit involving 23 individuals from seven families is challenging the second-generation cut-off introduced in 2009. The lawsuit argues that the rule discriminates based on birthplace, violates mobility and liberty rights, and disproportionately disadvantages women who give birth outside Canada due to circumstances beyond their control. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice will determine whether this policy violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


Understanding the Lawsuit:

The families involved in the lawsuit contend that the government's position oversimplifies the complex realities surrounding their choices. They argue that factors such as access to healthcare, healthcare costs, travel risks, job loss, income reduction, and career advancement jeopardies should be considered. They emphasize that they are not "Canadians of convenience" but individuals who returned to Canada as young children and spent their formative years in the country.


Arbitrary Distinction and Discrimination:

The distinction between Canadians born in Canada or naturalized and those born abroad by descent regarding the transmission of citizenship is seen as arbitrary and discriminatory by the families involved in the lawsuit. They argue that this differentiation does not consider the individual circumstances and represents a form of discrimination.


Applying for Proof of Canadian Citizenship:

To ascertain if one is a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government provides a formal process to apply for a "proof of Canadian citizenship" certificate. This certificate, issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is one of the two accepted documents by Passport Canada to prove Canadian citizenship. The application can be submitted at any point in an individual's life, regardless of whether the Canadian parent is alive or deceased.


Application Process:

To apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate, individuals can download the application package from the IRCC's website. The application requires evidence that at least one of the individual's biological or legal parents at birth was a Canadian citizen. The application can be submitted online through the IRCC's website. Upon submission, applicants will receive an acknowledgment of receipt, and their files will be reviewed and processed.

Understanding the Canadian citizenship cut-off for the second generation is essential for individuals navigating the complexities of citizenship by descent. While the current lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of this rule, those seeking proof of Canadian citizenship can apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate through the established process. As the legal proceedings unfold and the debate continues, it remains crucial to monitor any developments that could shape the future of Canadian citizenship laws.


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