Government of Canada Introduces New Legislation for Citizenship by Descent

Canadian citizenship, renowned globally, is a symbol of democratic rights, equality, and multiculturalism. It not only allows individuals to vote, run for political office, and possess a Canadian passport, but also fosters a sense of belonging and integration into Canada’s diverse society.

In 2009, legislative changes imposed a first-generation limit on citizenship by descent. Under this rule, Canadian citizens could pass on their citizenship to children born outside Canada only if the parent was either born in Canada or had naturalized before the child’s birth. This restriction prevented Canadian citizens born abroad from passing their citizenship to their children born outside Canada, complicating citizenship applications for children adopted abroad.

Today, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, introduced new legislation aimed at extending citizenship by descent beyond the first generation. This inclusive measure seeks to uphold the value of Canadian citizenship while addressing existing limitations.

Key Provisions of the New Legislation:

Automatic Citizenship for Certain Individuals:

Persons born abroad to a Canadian parent who was also born abroad before this legislation takes effect will automatically gain Canadian citizenship.

Extended Access for Adopted Children:

Children born abroad and adopted by Canadian parents beyond the first generation will have access to a direct grant of citizenship.

Physical Presence Requirement:

Post-legislation, parents born abroad must have spent at least 1,095 cumulative days in Canada before their child’s birth or adoption to pass on citizenship.

Restoration for “Lost Canadians”:

The legislation will restore citizenship to individuals who lost or never acquired it due to outdated laws and will extend this to their descendants and those born abroad in subsequent generations before the law takes effect.

Implications of Bill C-71:

Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024), promises significant changes. It aims to rectify the exclusionary effects of the first-generation limit, impacting families’ decisions on residence, work, education, and family planning. The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the citizenship process remains fair and transparent, reflecting Canada’s inclusive values.

Quick Facts:

Under the former section 8 of the Citizenship Act, individuals born abroad in the second generation between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, who turned 28 before 2009, lost their citizenship.

Legislative changes in 2009 and 2015 restored or granted citizenship to most “Lost Canadians.”

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled on December 19, 2023, that the first-generation limit is unconstitutional. The Government of Canada did not appeal this ruling.

For those affected by the changes proposed in Bill C-71, the Government of Canada will provide detailed information on eligibility and implementation as the bill progresses through Parliament and receives royal assent.


The new legislation marks a significant step towards a more inclusive and equitable citizenship process in Canada. By recognizing the genuine connections of Canadians abroad and addressing past legislative shortcomings, the Government of Canada reaffirms its commitment to upholding the principles of democracy, equality, and multiculturalism.

At NPZ Law Group, our U.S. and Canadian lawyers seek to assist clients with regard to employment and family immigration issues. If you or your friends or family should have any questions about any aspect of U.S. and Canadian Immigration Law, please feel free to contact us at or you can call our office at 201-670-0006 (ext. 104). We look forward to being able to assist you.