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New Canadian Citizenship Rules

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A new law will come into effect on April 17, 2009, amending the Citizenship Act. The new law will give Canadian citizenship to certain individuals who lost it and to others who will be recognized as citizens for the first time. Citizenship will be automatic and retroactive to the date of loss or date of birth, depending on the situation. People will not have to apply for citizenship, but may need to apply for a citizenship certificate to prove their citizenship. Individuals who are Canadian citizens at the time the law comes into effect will keep their citizenship.

Until the new law comes into effect, the current law will apply.

    * This means that people who will become citizens under the new law are not citizens yet.  Once the new law comes into effect, these people may apply for proof of citizenship.
    * As well, foreign-born persons adopted by a Canadian citizen between January 1, 1947, and February 14, 1977, must wait to apply for citizenship until the new law comes into effect.
    * This also means that people who will become citizens under the new law but wish to move to Canada before it comes into effect must contact Citizenship and Immigration Canada to find out what steps they must take to come to Canada using current immigration processes.
    * Also, people born outside Canada who are subject to the retention rules and who will turn 28 before the law comes into effect must still take action to retain citizenship.

Who will become a citizen

The law restores citizenship to the following individuals who lost it because of the rules in effect under the previous laws:

    * People who became citizens when the first citizenship act took effect on January 1, 1947, including people born in Canada prior to 1947, war brides, and other British subjects who had lived in Canada for at least five years before 1947 and who then lost citizenship;
    * People who were born in Canada or who became Canadian citizens on or after January 1, 1947, and who then lost their citizenship; and
    * People who were born outside Canada, on or after January 1, 1947, in the first generation born abroad, to a parent who was a Canadian citizen at the time of the birth.

The law gives citizenship to the following individuals who have never been citizens:

    * People who did not take the steps necessary to become citizens and who were born outside Canada on or after January 1, 1947, in the first generation born abroad to a parent who was a Canadian citizen at the time of the birth.

Who will not become a citizen

The following individuals will not become citizens under the new law:

    * People who did not become citizens when the first citizenship act took effect on January 1, 1947;
    * People born in Canada who are not citizens because at the time of their birth, one of their parents was a foreign diplomat;
    * People who were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, who are not already citizens or who lost their citizenship in the past, and who were born in the second or subsequent generation abroad;
    * People who were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, in the second or subsequent generation born abroad, and who lost their citizenship because they did not take the steps needed to retain their citizenship;
    * People who renounced their citizenship as adults with the Canadian government; and
    * People whose citizenship was revoked by the government because it was obtained by fraud.

Adoption

The rules that came into effect in December 2007 allowing children born outside Canada and adopted after February 14, 1977, to become Canadian citizens without having to become permanent residents will be extended to people adopted on or after January 1, 1947. For the adopted person to be eligible for citizenship, certain requirements must be met, including the submission of an application. This also includes people adopted by someone who will reacquire Canadian citizenship under the new law.

Persons born or adopted outside Canada after the new law comes into effect

The new law changes the rules for people born outside Canada. Individuals born outside Canada to a parent who was a Canadian citizen at the time of the birth will only be Canadians at birth if:

    * the parent was born in Canada;
    * the parent became a Canadian citizen by immigrating to Canada and being granted citizenship.

This means that children born in another country after the new law comes into effect will not be Canadian citizens by birth if they were born outside Canada to a Canadian parent who was also born outside Canada to a Canadian parent.

This limitation will also apply to foreign-born individuals adopted by a Canadian parent. The adopted children of Canadian citizens will be considered to be the first generation born abroad. This means that:

    * if a person born outside Canada and adopted by a Canadian parent has a child outside Canada, that child will not be a citizen by birth;
    * if a person born outside Canada and adopted by a Canadian parent adopts a child outside Canada, that child will not be eligible to apply for citizenship under the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act; and
    * if a person born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, in the first generation born abroad, adopts a foreign-born child, that adopted child will not be eligible to apply for citizenship under the adoption provisions of the Citizenship Act.

There are exceptions to these rules. The limitation will not apply to a child born or adopted abroad in the second or subsequent generation if, at the time of the child's birth or adoption, their Canadian parent is working outside Canada for the Canadian government or a Canadian province or serving outside Canada with the Canadian forces.

Children who are not eligible for citizenship under the Citizenship Act may be sponsored as permanent residents and then apply for citizenship. An application for citizenship for a child under 18 may be submitted as soon as the child becomes a permanent resident.

How to prove you are a Canadian citizen

For most purposes, people born in Canada may use their provincial or territorial birth certificate to prove their Canadian citizenship. Individuals who were born in Canada, who lost their citizenship in the past and who either resumed their citizenship in the past or reacquired it under the new law should be able to use their birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

People who were born outside Canada require a citizenship certificate to prove their Canadian citizenship. Find out how to apply for a citizenship certificate.
Getting ready for the new law CIC is preparing for the new law by:

    * writing regulations to support the amendments;
    * writing information sheets to explain the changes;
    * updating applications and other forms;
    * training staff;
    * working with stakeholders and partners to ensure that they know about the changes and can inform others about them.

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