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How You’re Entitled To Canadian Citizenship By Descent

February 28th, 2018

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?


Dear Canadian Dual Citizens: Go To School In Canada!

January 26th, 2018

Canada is more popular than ever with international students.

Back in December of 2016, we touched on an important bit of information that many Canadian dual citizens may not have been aware of. Post secondary school in Canada remains significantly more affordable than south of the border. Having dual Canadian and American citizenship, through parentage or birth, allows for greater and more cost effective options with respect to post secondary education and offers an opportunity to live abroad and enjoy the benefits of the citizenship you enjoy through birthright.

Since then, Canadian schools have been gaining some increased international recognition. As per CNBC, The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers surveyed over 250 American colleges and universities and found that 39 percent of Americans schools witnessed a decline in international applications in the last year. Meanwhile, Canadian schools are enjoying a dramatic increase in applications from abroad. Wilfrid Laurier University reported a 32 percent increase in international applications, McMaster University reported a 33 percent increase and the University of Toronto (Canada’s top-ranked and largest university) saw a 20% increase.

Traditionally, Canada hasn’t been a hugely popular university destination for Americans. In 2014, it drew about 9,000 students from the U.S., compared with 57,000 from China, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Many in higher education are of the opinion that there is a perception change of the United States as hostile and unwelcoming to immigrants because of the rhetoric and popularity of President Trump.

“I think everybody in international education is a little uneasy, in part because some of the rhetoric in the campaign frightened people overseas,” – Stephen Dunnett, vice-provost for international education at the University at Buffalo.

Canadian universities are renowned for their research and innovation. Canada’s higher education institutions are diverse — varying in size, scope, character and breadth of programs. Canadian universities like the University of Toronto and McGill actually rank higher than some American Ivy League schools — The University of Toronto ranks 22nd on the Times Higher Education list for 2016-2017, placing it way ahead of Brown, which clocked in at 51st place, and close behind Cornell, which ranked 19th. High academic standards and thorough quality controls mean that students may gain a high-quality education that will benefit their careers over the long term. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is generally recognized as being equivalent to those obtained from the United States or Commonwealth countries. Also, full time students registered in a degree or diploma-granting course are allowed to work on the campus of the institution without a work permit, which offers an advantage of being able to manage finances more effectively.



Canadian Citizenship Applications See Significant Spike The Week After Rules Change

January 23rd, 2018

Thousands of applications filed in week after October 11th, 2017

As per the CBC, there was a significant uptick in applications for Canadian citizenship after the government cooled the rules around residency requirements and language proficiency this fall. 3653 applications are filed in an average week, in the six months leading up to the rules being changed in October of last year. That number shot up to 17500 applications the week after the new requirements kicked in. There were also 12,530 applications submitted the week after that.

We touched on the changes in a previous post. The previous required length of physical presence in Canada was reduced to three out of five years, from four out of six years. As well, a portion of time spent in Canada before permanent resident status is now counted towards the residency requirement, which gives credit to temporary workers and foreign students. Lastly, the age range for language and knowledge requirements was reduced to 18 to 54 years old, from the previous requirement of 14 to 64.

“Reducing the physical presence requirement gives more flexibility to applicants to meet the requirements for citizenship and encourages more immigrants to take the path to citizenship. This helps individuals who have already begun building lives in Canada achieve citizenship faster.” -Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship spokeswoman, Nancy Caron

Data is continuing to get collected on whether the uptick trend keeps up. Back in 2015, The Toronto Star reported that the percentage of immigrants who become citizens had dropped dramatically from 79 per cent to 26 per cent among people who arrived between 2000 and 2008 – much of it being attributed to a significant fee increase to $630, which included a $100 “right of citizenship” fee.

Canada Embraces It’s Dual Citizens While Australia’s Government Throws Itself Into Disarray

December 31st, 2017

Photo by: David Jackmanson

The Literal Interpretation Of The Constitutional Rule Has Created An Unprecedented Political Crisis

You cannot be a dual citizen if you want to work in Australian politics. Their constitution prohibits it. The document, enacted on Jan. 1, 1901, includes a section outlining who can and who cannot sit in the Senate, the upper house of the Australian Parliament. Section 44.1 states that:

“any person who is under acknowledgement of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or citizen of a foreign power shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”

It also applies if a person is “entitled to the rights or privileges” of a citizen. This has been interpreted to mean that dual citizens cannot sit in the Australian Parliament. Many of the politicians caught up in the crisis are citizens by descent – as in – they were not born in the country, but inherited the rights of citizenship through their parents. So far, 12 sitting or prospective politicians have fallen foul of section 44 of the constitution, ending their political careers for the foreseeable future. Interestingly, one of the initial members to get caught in the issue was Larissa Waters, who was born in Winnipeg and holds dual Canadian citizenship. She was forced to resign her senate seat when it was revealed that she had not renounced her Canadian citizenship. The whole issue almost left Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government without its majority – which could have been an unprecedented political event in Australian politics.

Dual and Even Triple Citizenship For Canadian Political Actors Is Increasingly Common

For perspective, the situation is quite different here in Canada. According to the CBC, there are now at least 56 sitting parliamentarians — 44 MPs and 12 senators — born in countries outside Canada, according to information from the Library of Parliament and websites. At least 22 of them have citizenship from other countries and that figure does not include MPs and senators who hold citizenship through descent, naturalization or marriage.

In Canada, the only requirements for seeking a seat in the House of Commons are that you are a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old, and not serving prison sentence of more than two years. To be a senator in Canada, an individual has to be at least 30 years old, a resident of the province they represent, and own property worth at least $4,000 in that province.


New Year Sees Reinstatement of Parents and Grandparents Program

December 27th, 2017

Parents and Grandparents Program

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will soon be able to take the first step in applying to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada will reinstate its popular Parents and Grandparents Program (PGP) on Jan. 2, 2018. The very popular program permits Canadian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their parents or grandparents to come to Canada. IRCC implemented a new process in 2017 for sponsorship application intake to make it fairer and more transparent for applicants. Now, potential sponsors must first notify IRCC that they are interested in sponsoring their parents and grandparents by submitting an “Interest to Sponsor” form. Using a random selection process, IRCC will then invite potential sponsors to apply to sponsor their parents and grandparents.

“Family reunification is a priority for the Government of Canada. On January 2, I invite those who are eligible to sponsor to express their interest to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada. Helping more people reunite with their parents and grandparents in Canada demonstrates the government’s commitment to keeping families together, leading to successful integration and stronger ties to Canada.”– The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

The prerequisites to sponsor one’s parents and grandparents to become a permanent resident under the Family Class are that applicants must be at least 18 years old and must be either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada. You’re also eligible if you meet the age requirement and are a person registered in Canada as an Indian under the Canadian Indian Act.

If you sponsor your parents and grandparents to come to Canada as a permanent resident, you must:

  • Meet certain income requirements
  • Support that person and their dependants financially
  • Meet the minimum necessary income level for this program by submitting notices of assessment issued by the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) in support of their sponsorship.
  • Sponsors must also demonstrate they have met the minimum necessary income level for three consecutive years. If married or in a common-law relationship, the income of both persons can be included; and
  • The sponsor and the sponsored relative must sign a sponsorship agreement that commits the sponsor to provide financial support for the sponsored person for up to 20 years.

Those interested in the program can learn about exclusions and determine eligibility here.

Maryam Monsef Is Waiting On The Government For Paperwork Update

November 28th, 2017

Maryam Monsef

Liberal cabinet minister is still waiting for the government to update her documents

More than a year after Maryam Monsef’s place of birth was revealed to be Iran, and not Afghanistan as originally reported, the Minister is awaiting the changes to her paperwork like any other Canadian.

In September 2016, Maryam Monsef Liberal minister of Democratic Institutions, hailed by the Liberals as Canada’s first Afghan-born MP, was revealed to actually have born in Mashhad, Iran, a city about 200 kilometres away from the border with Afghanistan.  She said her mother, who fled Afghanistan when Monsef was 11, didn’t think it mattered where the minister was born since she was still legally considered an Afghan citizen. By law, she was required to correct her birthplace information on her passport, and under the controversial bill C-24 that the previous Conservative government introduced, she could have had her citizenship revoked, and could even have faced deportation.

“There’s just nothing to tell.”Just like everybody else, I’m waiting my turn. I’m as Canadian as you are. The paperwork is done and when there is news, I will be sure to share it with you.”

As per the CBC, the Immigration Department would not comment specifically on her case, citing privacy reasons, but did outline the potential steps involved should someone need to correct their birthplace on their passport.

Monsef’s origin story raised eyebrows when it first emerged, in part because at the time, the Liberal government was still aggressively enforcing a Conservative law that could strip naturalized Canadian citizens of their status without a hearing, despite having campaigned against it. Misrepresentation remains grounds for being stripped of citizenship, but following the outcome of a Federal Court case earlier this year, the government brought in an appeals process that will come into effect in early 2018.

The Canadian Citizenship Oath Gets Set For A Revision

November 26th, 2017

New Canadians Will Soon Acknowledge and Honour Treaties With First Nations and Indigenous Peoples

As per the CBC, soon, new Canadians will promise to honour treaties with Indigenous peoples as part of their oath during Canadian citizenship ceremonies. This is all as per a mandate letter from Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, who lists making the change to the swearing-in ceremony one of his key priorities. The proposed change is in line with the recommendations as set out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

“We call upon the government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including treaties with Indigenous peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The current oath does not include the reference to the treaties as proposed to be changed. The call for action was among 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December 2015, all of which are intended to paint a more accurate and inclusive picture of the Canadian societal and historical fabric. Part of that would include information about the treaties and even the dark history of residential schools.

Independent Senator Murray Sinclair indicated that the final wording will likely see some adjustment, but welcomed the revisions to the citizenship oath as a way to educate immigrants about the country’s history and historical legacy.

“I think it’s out of step with the TRC’s own call to action to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery,” he said in reference to a group of 15th century decrees that were the basis of European explorers’ claims to Aboriginal land – Tom McMahon

Others don’t think it goes far enough. Tom McMahon, who served as general legal counsel to the TRC, said the government should take the opportunity to reword the entire oath. He said one that honours indigenous people but retains a mandatory allegiance to the Queen is incongruent with the “colonialist” past and today’s Charter rights.

Man Fights For His Canadian Identity

October 30th, 2017

Yoani Kuiper

Denied Canadian Citizenship Two Years After Application

Global News has been following and reporting on an interesting story of a man who, after having spent almost his entire adult life in Canada, was denied Canadian citizenship. Jonathan “Yoani” Kuiper was born in the Netherlands, but his family moved to Canada when he was just fourteen months old. He lived in Canada for 27 years. His application was denied because he did not meet the criteria for citizenship according to Canadian immigration rules. The problem lies in the rule.

Permanent residents were previously required (at the time of the application in 2013) to accumulate at least 4 years of worth of residency days out of six years prior to applying. While that’s been recently been changed (now they can accumulate three years out of five), he hadn’t spent a total of the prerequisite four of the six years previous to his application in the country. Previous time spent in the country is not considered, no matter how long you’ve lived in Canada. Kuiper went to Toronto’s York University and helped found a small coffee chain in the city. He moved back to the Netherlands to get his master’s degree, returned to Canada, then took a job in Europe, eventually settling back in the Netherlands.

“My entire life I’ve always identified and understood myself to be Canadian”

He was 597 days short of fulfilling the requirement. While waiting on word back on his application for citizenship, Kuiper’s permanent resident card expired as he assumed his citizenship application would be approved. He is appealing that, but that process can take as long as two years and he won’t be allowed to return to Canada in the meantime. Things got more complicated when after being denied citizenship, there was an error in the ensuing visa process that left him unsure whether he’d be able to come home to see his family any time soon. All this to say, he did recently get some good news this month. His appeal of the decision to have his permanent residency revoked was approved, essentially granting him a five-year extension of his PR status.

“Everywhere I travel I’m recognized as a Canadian, but the only one still not willing to recognize that is the government of Canada.”

The new rules would allow him to earn the opportunity to gain his Canadian citizenship by spending at least three of those years physically present in the country. Regardless, Kuiper isn’t sure if he’s willing to upend his whole life to simply come back to Canada to fulfill the prerequisite conditions to apply for Citizenship. At this point he’s established and cultivated his career and family life in the Netherlands since moving there and questions whether the whole ordeal is worth the trouble. He thinks his case merits newly appointed Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to intervene and use his discretionary powers – something he can do in extraordinary circumstances in accordance with the newly enshrined changes to the Citizenship Act.

Obtaining Canadian Citizenship Got Easier This Month

October 12th, 2017

Canadian Citizenship

It Just Got Easier To Apply For Canadian Citizenship For Permanent Residents

As of October 11th, permanent residents in Canada can apply for Canadian citizenship — also known as naturalization — easier and sooner than before, following the implementation of measures contained in Bill C-6, which was passed into law last June.

Previously, permanent residents were required to accumulate at least 4 years of worth of residency days out of six years prior to applying. Now, they can accumulate three years out of five. If you’ve spent time in Canada as a foreign worker, international student, or protected person before transitioning to permanent residence may count a portion of this time towards the residency days requirement, where each day spent in Canada on temporary status counts as half a day, up to a maximum of 365 days.

Also –  the government has removed the requirement for applicants for citizenship to be physically present in Canada for 183 days or more in four out of the six years preceding their application, which is another big change.

“We want all permanent residents in Canada to become citizens. That’s our wish, because we value Canadian citizenship, we understand we are a community that continues to welcome people from all over the world. And we understand the importance and the positive role that immigrants play in our economy, in our society, and in our cultural life.” – Minister of Immigration Ahmed Hussen

Other changes include the requirement to file personal income taxes, if required under the Income Tax Act, from four out of six years,  to three out of five, matching the physical presence requirement. As well, previously, applicants between 14 and 64 years had to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. That age range has now changed to 18-54 years.

Trump New Travel Ban 3.0

September 27th, 2017

As with the previous ban, Canadian dual citizens are unaffected.

Two days ago, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation (Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats  – the Presidential Proclamation) to limit travel from a handful of countries. His previous attempt at a travel ban sought to block all travel from the previously listed countries temporarily. This one is indefinite and imposes different restrictions for different nations. Three new countries – Chad, North Korea and Venezuela – have been added to the list since the last executive order earlier in the year, and another country, Sudan, was removed from the list altogether. The list now encompasses Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The new restrictions include a phased-in approach beginning next month.

The Venezuelan restrictions aim to isolate government officials that the White house blames for the country’s slide into chaos, including officials from the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service and their immediate families.

For the last three months, the President employed an executive order to ban foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US unless they had a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the country. This is what has come to be known as the “bona fide proviso”. Those nations included Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan.

As per the Globe and Mail, Trump’s refugee policies and travel bans have been cited as the driving forces behind a rise in U.S. border crossings by asylum seekers who want refugee status in Canada. Under 2004’s Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States, refugees who’ve been rejected in one country are prevented from seeking asylum in the other. This means that, if asylum seekers show up at official border crossings, authorities will turn them back. But the deal doesn’t cover people who cross unofficially – so-called “irregular migration” – and then claim asylum once they’re in Canada.