Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 | New Descent Rules

Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71

The Canadian government, with Immigration Minister Marc Miller, introduced ground-breaking legislation aimed at redefining citizenship by descent. This new legislation, known as Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71, aims to increase citizenship eligibility beyond the first generation, resulting in a more inclusive and equitable approach. Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 offers to provide Canadian citizenship to people born abroad to Canadian parents who were also born abroad, providing fresh hope to millions who had previously been excluded. With Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71, the government is making substantial strides to address prior challenges and provide a more equal road to citizenship for all eligible persons.

Key Provisions of Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71

Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 proposes several significant changes to the Citizenship Act, focusing on inclusivity and addressing historical injustices. The bill would: expand citizenship by descent beyond the first generation, granting immediate citizenship to those born abroad to a Canadian parent who was also born abroad before the act goes into effect. Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 also aims to provide direct citizenship to children born overseas and adopted by Canadian parents, ensuring a fairer and more inclusive approach:

  1. Expand Citizenship by Descent Beyond the First Generation: This change means that children born outside of Canada to Canadian parents, even if the parents were also born abroad, can now acquire Canadian citizenship.
  2. Immediate Citizenship for Eligible Individuals: The bill would immediately grant Canadian citizenship to individuals born abroad to a Canadian parent who was also born abroad before the act goes into effect.
  3. Direct Grant of Citizenship to Adopted Children: Children born overseas and adopted by Canadian parents, beyond the first generation, will also have expanded access to a direct grant of citizenship.
  4. Physical Presence Requirement: For parents born abroad who have or adopt children outside Canada, a requirement of at least 1,095 cumulative days of physical presence in Canada prior to their child’s birth or adoption will be necessary to pass down citizenship.
  5. Restoring Citizenship for “Lost Canadians”: The goal of Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 is to provide citizenship back to those who lost it or never got it because of antiquated clauses in earlier citizenship legislation. This encompasses the offspring of “Lost Canadians” as well as those born abroad to Canadian parents in later generations. A big start in the right direction towards redressing these past injustices is Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71.

Impact on “Lost Canadians”

“Lost Canadians” are those who have lost or never obtained Canadian citizenship as a result of the complicated and sometimes out-of-date requirements of the Citizenship Act. Traditionally, if both parents were born outside of Canada, the first-generation cut-off rule has precluded children born outside of Canada from immediately becoming citizens. For many families, especially those with close links to Canada, this legislation has presented serious complications.

The Canadian government created the Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 in direct response to these issues. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice declared on December 19, 2023, that the first-generation limitation on those who were born outside of the country was unconstitutional. Minister Marc Miller said after this judgement that the government would not appeal the verdict, but would instead choose to alter the Citizenship Act via Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 to solve these difficulties. The goal of Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 is to give citizenship rights to more people who have been impacted by outmoded restrictions and to redress historical wrongs. As such, it is an important advance in Canadian immigration law.

Previous Efforts: Bill S-245

Before Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71, there was Bill S-245, which aimed to address similar issues regarding citizenship by descent. Introduced by Honourable Yonah Martin in the Senate on May 12, 2022, Bill S-245 sought to grant citizenship to individuals known as Lost Canadians. These individuals, born overseas to Canadian parents between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981, faced the risk of losing their citizenship if they did not apply to retain it before turning 28. Bill S-245, however, encountered several obstacles during its legislative journey. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) found that the bill’s amendments were problematic and required several revisions. Despite these challenges, Bill S-245 laid important groundwork for the more comprehensive changes proposed in Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71. The introduction of Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 builds on this foundation, addressing the shortcomings of previous legislation and ensuring a more inclusive approach to citizenship by descent.

Implications and Future Steps

The modifications will take effect as soon as the Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 is approved by Parliament and granted royal assent. This will include adding rules and comprehensive information for qualified persons to official government webpages. Those impacted by earlier limitations will be able to finally assert their right to Canadian citizenship according to the new law, Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71.

For people and their families, the proposed amendments to Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 present a number of concerns. Parents who have travelled extensively, for example, may need to know how the 1,095-day physical presence criterion is going to be computed and recorded. Furthermore, those aiming to regain their citizenship or assert it for the first time in accordance with Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 will need unambiguous instructions on the application procedure.

Expected Benefits of Bill C-71

The introduction of Bill C-71 is expected to bring several benefits:

  1. Inclusivity: By expanding citizenship by descent beyond the first generation, the bill ensures that more individuals with strong ties to Canada can become citizens.
  2. Justice for Lost Canadians: The bill addresses historical injustices faced by Lost Canadians, restoring their citizenship and recognizing their inherent connection to Canada.
  3. Simplified Process for Adopted Children: The direct grant of citizenship to children adopted abroad by Canadian parents simplifies the process and removes unnecessary barriers.
  4. Clear Guidelines and Requirements: The 1,095-day physical presence requirement provides a clear and attainable path for parents born abroad to pass down citizenship to their children.


Bill C-71, known as An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act (2024), marks a pivotal advancement in Canadian immigration law. By directly tackling the shortcomings of prior statutes and fostering a more encompassing framework for citizenship by descent, this bill pledges to redress longstanding inequities and unlock fresh prospects for numerous individuals and families. As Canadian Citizenship Bill C-71 progresses through Parliament and eventually secures enactment, it remains imperative for eligible individuals to remain abreast of developments and comprehend the necessary procedures for asserting their rightful Canadian citizenship.

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