Canada accepts removal of “second generation” citizenship cut-off rule for Canadians born abroad

The federal government will not appeal the Ontario Superior Court’s ruling that Canada’s “second generation cut-off” for citizenship eligibility is unconstitutional.

This will end the “second generation cut-off” rule for many Canadians who were born abroad but rendered ineligible for citizenship.

Under the rule, found in Canada’s Citizenship Act, children born abroad were denied automatic Canadian citizenship if their Canadian parents were also born abroad. In December 2021, a Constitutional challenge was brought against the federal government regarding this provision of the Citizenship Act on grounds that the second generation citizenship cut-off discriminated on the basis of nation of origin, effectively creating a second class of citizens who are denied an automatic right to return to Canada with their foreign-born children.

Justice Jasmine Akbarali, for the Ontario Superior Court, agreed, finding that foreign-born Canadians hold “a lesser class of citizenship because, unlike Canadian-born citizens, they are unable to pass on Canadian citizenship by descent to their children born abroad.”

The federal government had 30 days to appeal Justice Akbarali’s ruling. This period has since passed, meaning the ruling will stand and the federal government will have six months to amend the Citizenship Act to meet Constitutional muster.

This decision represents a significant victory for the approximately 200,000 “Lost Canadians” who have been denied citizenship rights due to place of birth. Individuals previously affected by this rule will be eligible to apply for proof of citizenship by way of a Citizenship Certificate in the near future.

To learn more about how these changes could impact you, contact a member of the MLT Aikins immigration team today.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.