Citizenship and the First-Generation Limitation

Michael Pal and Luka Ryder-Bunting, "Citizenship and the First-Generation Limitation" (2022) 45:1 Dalhousie Law Journal 159

27 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2023

See all articles by Michael Pal

Michael Pal

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Luka Ryder-Bunting

Independent

Date Written: June 22, 2022

Abstract

This article considers the current Canadian regime for citizenship by descent and what is known as the “first-generation limitation.” In 2009, Parliament legislated to limit the transmission of citizenship by descent. Known as the “first-generation limitation,” the new rules mean that a Canadian parent is only entitled to pass on their citizenship to their children born abroad if the parent themselves became a citizen by birth inside Canada or by naturalization. In other words, if an individual acquired Canadian citizenship by descent, they are not entitled to pass on their citizenship to their children unless those children are born in Canada. The imposition of the first-generation limitation was controversial, as it is much more restrictive than the previous Canadian rules or those in many comparable jurisdictions. This article outlines the operation of the current Canadian rules around citizenship, analyzes the first-generation limitation, and sets out relevant international comparisons. In evaluating the current legal regime in light of debates about the principles of jus soli, jus sanguinis, and jus nexi, we conclude that the current legal regime is overly restrictive. There are potential alternatives that would better meet the underlying values of Canadian citizenship law. Building on the foundations of jus soli, jus sanguinis, and jus nexi, we have identified three main policy options that respond to the tensions raised by the indefinite transmission of citizenship by descent in Canada: (1) a parental residency exception; (2) an adapted naturalization application, and (3) a birth registration exception. In our assessment, any of these three options would be preferable to the status quo or the pre-2009 rules.

Keywords: citizenship, immigration, first-generation limitation, Citizenship Act, Canada

Suggested Citation

Pal, Michael and Ryder-Bunting, Luka, Citizenship and the First-Generation Limitation (June 22, 2022). Michael Pal and Luka Ryder-Bunting, "Citizenship and the First-Generation Limitation" (2022) 45:1 Dalhousie Law Journal 159, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4394198 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4394198

Michael Pal (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.commonlaw.uottawa.ca/index.php?option=com_contact&task=view&contact_id=799&Itemid=151

Luka Ryder-Bunting

Independent

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