Changes to citizenship rules

The Citizenship Act was amended in 2009 and 2015. This changed the citizenship rules about who is or isn’t a Canadian citizen. These changes include:

  • recognizing some people as citizens for the first time
  • giving Canadian citizenship to certain people who lost it

None of the changes took Canadian citizenship away from anyone who was a Canadian citizen before the rules came into effect.

The changes don’t give citizenship to anyone who renounced their citizenship with the Canadian government, or who had their citizenship revoked because they got it through fraud.

Changes in 2015

In 2015, you became a Canadian citizen if you were:

  • born or naturalized in Canada before January 1, 1947, but stopped being a British subject and didn’t become a citizen on that date
    • in Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949
  • a British subject usually living in Canada but weren’t eligible for Canadian citizenship on January 1, 1947
    • in Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949
  • born outside Canada in the first generation before January 1, 1947, to a parent described above 
    • in Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949
  • born outside Canada in the first generation before January 1, 1947, to a parent who became a citizen on that date and you didn’t become a citizen on that date
    • in Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949
  • foreign-born and adopted before January 1, 1947, and at least one adoptive parent became a Canadian citizen on that date and the adoptive parent is eligible to pass on citizenship by descent
    • in Newfoundland and Labrador this date is April 1, 1949

In 2015, you didn’t become a Canadian citizen if you:

  • had your British subject status revoked
  • renounced your British subject status
  • were born outside Canada after the first generation (unless one of the exceptions to the first generation limit to citizenship by descent apply)

Changes in 2009

In 2009, you became a Canadian citizen if you:

  • lost your Canadian citizenship after you:
    • became a Canadian citizen on January 1, 1947
    • were born or naturalized in Canada on or after January 1, 1947
  • were foreign-born and adopted by Canadian parents on or after January 1, 1947
  • were born outside Canada in the first generation to a Canadian parent on or after January 1, 1947, and you lost or never had citizenship due to former citizenship provisions

In 2009, you didn’t become a Canadian citizen if you:

  • didn’t become a citizen on January 1, 1947
  • were born in Canada but weren’t a Canadian citizen at birth because:
    • one of your parents was a foreign diploma
    • neither of your parents was a permanent resident or Canadian citizen
  • were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent and were:
    • not already a Canadian citizen or you had lost your citizenship in the past
    • born in the second or subsequent generation (this includes people who failed to retain citizenship)

Amendments to the Citizenship Act limit citizenship by descent

On April 17, 2009, the rules for Canadian citizenship changed for persons:

  • born outside Canada to Canadian parents
  • who weren’t already Canadian citizens when the rules changed

These rules didn’t take Canadian citizenship away from anyone who was a Canadian citizen before the rules came into effect.

Canadian citizenship by birth outside Canada to a parent who is a Canadian citizen (citizenship by descent) is now limited to the first generation born outside Canada.

This means that if you weren’t already a Canadian citizen by April 17, 2009, and were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, you aren’t Canadian if your Canadian parent was:

  • also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent
    • this would make you the second or subsequent generation born outside Canada
  • granted Canadian citizenship under section 5.1, the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act
    • this would make you the second generation born outside Canada

However, you may be an exception to the first generation limit if your Canadian parent or grandparent was employed in certain situations.

Exceptions to the first generation limit

If you were born outside Canada in the second or later generation, the first generation limit to citizenship doesn’t apply to you if:

  • at the time of your birth, your Canadian parent was employed:
    • outside Canada
    • with the Canadian Armed Forces
    • with the federal public administration
    • with the public service of a province or territory
    • other than as a locally engaged person (a crown servant)
  • at the time of your Canadian parent’s birth or adoption, your Canadian grandparent was employed outside Canada:
    • in the Canadian Armed Forces
    • with the federal public administration
    • with the public service of a province or territory
    • other than as a locally engaged person (a crown servant)

The rules may also affect children adopted by Canadian parents outside Canada, depending on how your child got, or will get, citizenship.

If you were born to a Canadian parent and aren’t eligible for citizenship by descent due to the first generation limit, you may:

  • apply for and get permanent resident status
  • submit an application for a grant of citizenship under section 5 of the Citizenship Act

Features

Date Modified: