Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

December 10, 2007 16:24 ET

Retransmission : Legislation to Restore Citizenship to Lost Canadians (with Backgrounder)

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 10, 2007) - The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today tabled a bill to give Canadian citizenship to those who have lost or never had Canadian citizenship because of outdated provisions in existing and former legislation.

"I want to express my support for all those who have had their citizenship questioned due to outdated laws that have been on the books for many years," said Minister Finley. "I am proud to introduce comprehensive legislation on this issue. Our government is taking action to fix past citizenship problems, to recognize Canadian citizens and to protect the value of Canadian citizenship for the future."

The proposed amendments to the Citizenship Act would mean that:

- Anyone who was born in Canada or who became a Canadian on or after January 1, 1947, when the first citizenship act took effect, and who then lost citizenship, would have their status restored. This includes war brides who are not already Canadian. It also includes people born in Canada prior to 1947 who became citizens when the first citizenship act took effect on January 1, 1947. The exceptions would be those who renounced their citizenship with Canadian authorities, those born in Canada to a foreign diplomat, or those whose citizenship was revoked by the government because it was obtained by fraud.

- Anyone born abroad to a Canadian on or after January 1, 1947, if not already a citizen, would be recognized as a Canadian citizen from birth, but only if they are the first generation born abroad. The exceptions would be those who renounced their citizenship.

- No one who is a citizen today would lose their citizenship as a result of these amendments.

"We are proposing a broad and generous legislative solution that will eliminate complex bureaucratic processes and give people the citizenship status they deserve," said Minister Finley.

Under existing and former legislation passed by previous Parliaments, there are several reasons why people could have lost their citizenship or were never recognized as Canadians.

For example, between 1947, when the first citizenship act took effect, and 1977, when it was replaced, Canadians may have lost citizenship if they or a parent took up citizenship in another country, such as the United States. Another example is a person born abroad to a Canadian parent who did not take steps to register the birth with Canadian citizenship authorities.

Under the law as it stands today, if you lost your citizenship, you have to apply to resume it and meet certain criteria. In extraordinary cases, the minister of Citizenship and Immigration may seek approval for a special grant of citizenship from the Cabinet. In 2007, approximately 100 cases were resolved through special grants.

It is not known how many people will take advantage of the opportunity this legislation offers, but it is expected to be substantially more than the relatively small number of individuals who benefited from the case-by-case approach used until now. Among other reasons, this is because the proposed legislation would extend the right of citizenship to those born to Canadians outside the country on or after January 1, 1947.

"This legislation will deal with 95 percent of those people who either lost their citizenship and shouldn't have, or who never had it in the first place but should have," said Minister Finley. "The rest we will be able to handle on a case-by-case basis as we have done all this year."

For a copy of the bill, please refer to the House Government Bills section of the Parliament of Canada website at



Canada's citizenship legislation, dating back to 1947 and 1977, is based on the cultural and social values of its day. Our values and attitudes have changed and so should our citizenship laws.

The 1947 Act, for example:

- Treated people born abroad after 1946 to Canadian parents differently, depending on whether their parents were married. They could be made citizens directly only if they were born in wedlock to a Canadian father or out of wedlock to a Canadian mother.

- Restricted access to dual citizenship. If you were Canadian (whether or not you were born in Canada) and took out citizenship in another country between 1947 and 1977, you automatically lost your Canadian citizenship. Yet other people who were dual citizens from birth were allowed to hold both citizenships.

- Caused children to lose their citizenship automatically if their parents took out another citizenship on their behalf.

- Had rules governing how you could lose citizenship. A person who immigrated to Canada and became a Canadian citizen (a naturalized citizen) could lose their citizenship if they lived outside Canada for 10 years. Yet such rules didn't apply to citizens born in Canada.

- Required Canadian citizens born outside Canada to Canadian parents, and living outside Canada on their 24th birthday, to file documents to keep their citizenship.

- Required Canadian parents to register the birth of a child born abroad with the citizenship department, even if the birth was just across the border in the closest hospital. Children whose births were not registered were not Canadian citizens.

All of these issues would be addressed with the proposed legislation.

The 1977 Act:

- Partially resolved some of the concerns with the 1947 Act, but did not make people citizens retroactively.

- Allows Canadians living outside Canada to pass citizenship on from generation to generation, without ever having lived in Canada.

- Also has provisions that cause some Canadians, born outside Canada to a Canadian parent, to lose their citizenship. If they do not take steps to keep their citizenship by their 28th birthday, they lose their citizenship even if they live in Canada.

The proposed legislation would give citizenship automatically to the first generation of children born abroad to Canadian citizens. Subsequent generations born abroad would no longer be given Canadian citizenship automatically, unless they are children of members of the Canadian Forces or Canadian diplomats serving outside Canada.

Contact Information

  • Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Minister's Office
    Tim Vail
    Press Secretary
    Citizenship and Immigration Canada
    Karen Shadd-Evelyn
    Spokesperson, Media Relations
    Communications Branch