Descendent of Canadian Born Abroad regain their rights to Canadian Citizenship

26 Apr 2024


On December 23, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court gave a great Christmas gift to thousands of children born in the USA or abroad and who had a Canadian grandparent.  It ruled against the second-generation citizenship cut-off in Canada.  It is estimated that just in the USA, over 200,000 citizens will gain the right to claim Canadian Citizenship and become dual citizens of Canada and the USA.

The court ruling challenges the "second-generation cut-off," which prevented the children of Canadians born abroad from obtaining citizenship for their children living outside Canada.  The Ontario Superior Court has deemed it unconstitutional for the Canadian federal government to deny automatic citizenship to the children of foreign-born Canadians who grew up abroad.  The court ordered the Canadian government to repeal this provision within six months and amend the Canadian Citizenship Act.  Federal government had 30 days to appeal the court ruling.  (

On January 22, 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that “The federal government has announced that Canada will not appeal decision that strikes down first generation limit to Canadian citizenship by descent.” (IRCC New Release)

Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, issued the following statement: “This law, as it currently stands, has had unacceptable consequences for Canadians whose children were born outside the country. For this reason, we will not appeal the ruling.   “Canadian citizenship is highly valued around the world and, as Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, I’m committed to making the citizenship process as fair and transparent as possible.” (IRCC New Release)


 The federal government agreed that the current limitation on the second generation is against the Canadian Charter of Rights. It creates two classes of Canadian Citizenship by limiting some Canadian parents’ rights to pass their citizenship on to their own children.

The federal government has started the process of updating the citizenship act to reflect the court ruling.

The case involved seven multi-generational Canadian families arguing that the cut-off violates s. 15(1) and s. 6 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Justice Akbarali wrote that the “second-generation cut-off” creates a distinction based on national origin.  It treats Canadians, who became Canadians at birth because they were born in Canada, differently from Canadians, who obtained their citizenship by descent due to their birth outside of Canada.

Justice Akbarali stated that the latter group holds a “lesser class of citizenship” because, unlike Canadian-born citizens, they cannot pass on Canadian citizenship by descent to their children born abroad. In addition, Canadians who obtained their citizenship by descent also hold a lesser class of citizenship because, unlike Canadians born in Canada, they do not have the automatic right to live in Canada with their born-abroad children.

Justice Akbarali concludes that the rule is a “patriarchal and racist policy”.  She agreed with the family's claim that the bill discriminates not only on national origin but on sex.  First-generation born abroad, women are particularly impacted because of the intersection of their country of birth and their sex, as biologically, only women can become pregnant. (CBC News -  'Lost Canadians' win in Ontario court as judge ends 2 classes of citizenship)


Understanding the second-generation cut-off for Canadian citizenship

The current rule states that a person may be eligible for Canadian Citizenship if they were born outside Canada and at least one of their biological or legal parent was a Canadian citizen when they were born.  However, Canada has been limiting citizenship by descent to the first generation born outside Canada.

The Canadian Citizenship Act was first enacted in 1947 and has been amended numerous times. For years, the Act allowed Canadian parents to pass citizenship to their children born outside of Canada for indefinite generations if a foreign-born descendant registered with the government by a certain age.

The “second-generation cut-off” came into effect in 2009 after a mass evacuation of Lebanese Canadians following a long war between Israel and Lebanon.  The bill was the Canadian government’s response, which would “protect” the value of Canadian citizenship by ensuring that citizens have a “real connection” to Canada. (CTV News – Toronto)

Related Stories:

Canada & the USA Dual Citizenship

How to become a dual citizen of Canada?

Disclaimer: This blog is of a general nature for information only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal options or remedies.  While we make every effort to provide the correct information, it is provided on an “as is” basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied.  The information provided on this blog is not a substitute for professional or legal advice but general information on issues related to Canadian Citizenship.  Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.  Canada AG Immigration & Citizenship Services and do not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any of the information provided in this blog.

Reservation of rights – we reserve the right to change how we manage or run our blogs and we may change the content of our blogs at any time.