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How You’re Entitled To Canadian Citizenship By Descent

Posted Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 at 11:58 am

If you have a parent who was born in Canada you are a Canadian citizen by descent.

One of the most commonly asked questions we field is related to Canadian citizenship by descent. Individuals born outside of Canada are Canadian citizens by descent only if one of their parents is a citizen of Canada either by having been born in Canada or by naturalization. That means if your mother or father was born in Canada, you are entitled to Canadian citizenship, even if your parent hasn’t lived in the country for most of their lives and even if you’ve never visited. Under Canadian nationality law any person born to a Canadian citizen parent is automatically a Canadian citizen.

The legal term for citizenship by descent is jus sanguinis, or “right of blood,” referring to laws which rely on a person’s heritage to determine his or her citizenship status. If you’re researching this, you’ll hear it thrown around a lot.

The Citizenship Act was recently changed in 2009 to limit that citizenship by descent to one generation – also known as the “first generation rule”. It is not retroactive. If you were born after 2009, you’re a Canadian if one parent is a Canadian citizen – but not if a grandparent was. if you were born prior to 17 April 17th, 2009 when the new rule came into effect, you’re in luck and can still claim Canadian citizenship regardless of how many generations back your Canadian direct ascendents were born in Canada.  This is particularly important for many Americans who may be descended from Canadians who moved to the United States for economic reasons a number of generations ago.

Obtaining proof of citizenship is something that some Canadian citizens by descent attempt to do themselves, with typical wait times ranging between 5 months to a full year for processing. The form lead up and process is complicated and even the slightest error in your paperwork will result in a rejection, forcing you to start the process over again. Many applicants will secure an immigration lawyer to take care of the details, but that can make the process more expensive than it needs to be. We offer the same service as an immigration lawyer, but at a significantly less cost. As part of our fee of $199, we take care of the application paperwork and package preparation and lead you from start to finish, offering a guarantee on the processing of your application.

The benefits to Canadian citizenship are far and wide. From access to some of the world’s best schools, the ability to travel with a Canadian passport, to vote or run for political office, or to reside or work in Canada while benefitting from social privileges like the national health care system and one of the world’s most multi cultural societies. Maclean’s published a great piece back in 2013 on 99 reasons why it’s better to be a Canadian. Not everyone is entitled to the privilege of Canadian citizenship. What are you waiting for?


69 Responses to “How You’re Entitled To Canadian Citizenship By Descent”

  1. chris says:

    Hi Kathy – email us at or call us.

  2. Dana says:

    IS this still accurate?

  3. info says:

    Yes, If one of your parents is a Canadian citizen, you are eligible to become a Canadian citizen.

  4. Angie says:

    My grandmother was born in Canada in 1914, in Toronto. He parents were both British and they had emigrated.
    Sadly my great grandmother died in child birth, buried in Toronto, and my grandmother and her siblings cane back to the UK.
    Would this qualify me for Canadian citizenship as I have her Canadian birth records?
    Kind regards

  5. Zach says:

    Father was a naturalized citizen after I was born, can I still qualify?

  6. Michael G. Shanks says:

    My grandmother is from Yarmouth, NS
    Does that count?

  7. Dekan says:

    My grandfather was born in Canada in 1913, my father born in the States in 1950, I myself born in the States 1970 do I have a right to Canadian citizenship?

  8. Bonnie MacGregor says:

    My grandmother, Nina Holmes Adams (MacGregor), I believe was a citizen of Canada. Her
    Father Alonzo Adams, was Canadian, He grandfather Morris Holmes was from Beaver Harbor.
    The MacGregor side my Great Grandfather Jack MacGregor was born in Prince Edward Islands and we still have family there. How do I get copies of citizenship for them. I was born before 2009

  9. Melissa says:

    My grandfather was born in Canada and moved to Australia with his parents. He always remained a Canadian Citizen, would my mother or even myself be eligible for Canadian Citizenships?

  10. manny says:

    hi chris, what other options can we do if we dont have the proof of citizenship of my dad. My dad was able to apply me for a canadian citizenship certificate before he abondoned us.. I want my younger brother next to me to apply for a canadian certificate but failed to provide my father’s document as if he is refusing to give it us…

  11. Ronald LaMoure says:

    Am I eligible for citizenship by descent if my grandfather was born in Canada but migrated to the U.S. and then became a U.S. citizen? I assume he was required to renounce his Canadian citizenship and did not have a duel status. Both my father and I were born in the U.S.

  12. sarah says:

    Hi – British citizen – My grandfather (deceased) is Canadian. My grandmother married a Canadian during WW2. Father born 1944. Can I make an application based on my grandfather being Canadian? Or, does my father need to claim Citizenship first? One person at Embassy said no, another yes so confused!

  13. chris says:

    Hi Sarah. We sent you a private email about this. Let us know this found you ok.

  14. chris says:

    Hi Ronald. We sent you an email about this. Let us know this found you ok.

  15. chris says:

    Hi Manny. We reached out to you via email on this. Please confirm our message found you ok.

  16. Dekan says:

    My paternal grandfather (dec.) was born in Canada prior to 1946.
    My father (dec.) was born in U.S. in 1950.
    I was born in the U.S. in 1970.
    Am I eligible to claim citizenship as a right of birth?

  17. Warren says:

    My grandfather was born in PEI in 1876.
    My mother was born in the US in 1913 and never claimed Canadian citizenship.
    I was born in the US in 1954.
    Am I eligible for Canadian citizenship by descent?

  18. Roma says:

    Hi, my grandparents moved to Canada in the 1950s and became citizens, they moved there with my aunties and uncles as small children. They lived the rest of their lives there. My cousins are all Canadian born. Reading up on the changes made…would I be eligible to gain citizenship through descent (grandparents) as they had citizenship and I was born before 2009.

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