On April 17 new rules will come into effect which will redefine who is entitled to Canadian citizenship.

Perhaps the most significant change will be the one dealing with children born outside of Canada to one or more Canadian citizens. Currently, all such children are considered Canadians even though they may have never lived, or even stepped foot, in Canada. In fact, since they are Canadian citizens, if they have children outside of Canada, those children would also be considered Canadians. Accordingly, it is now possible to extend Canadian citizenship to countless generations of individuals who have no first-hand connection to this country.

The new rules will put an end to this but only after the “first generation.” That is, if a Canadian citizen has a child born outside of Canada, that child will be considered a Canadian citizen but that child’s future children will not be Canadian citizens if they are also born abroad. This rule will not apply to children born outside of Canada to parents who are abroad while serving in Canada’s armed forces or who are working for the federal or a provincial government.

While these changes seem sensible, there is one potential drawback. In certain cases, these amendments will produce children who are stateless if they are born to a Canadian citizen in a country that does not grant citizenship to all to those born on its soil. There are provisions in the new legislation intended to remedy such situations.

The new citizenship law will fix a number of historical wrongs created by the 1947 and 1977 Acts. Some of the problems being addressed arise from the differential treatment of children born out of wedlock, the loss of Canadian citizenship when a person took on the citizenship of another country, and the requirement to file documents to retain Canadian citizenship before a particular birthday.

The law will also deal with the citizenship of children adopted abroad by Canadian parents.

What is great about these changes is that in many cases the grant or restoration of citizenship will happen automatically without any steps needing to be taken.

To those who will wake up on April 17 for the first time as new Canadian citizens, I say “Pretty good day, eh?”

For more information on these changes see www.cic.gc.ca/citizenship

Guidy Mamann practices law in Toronto at Mamann, Sandaluk and is certified by the Law Society of Upper Canada as an immigration specialist. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at metro@migrationlaw.com.

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