Author: Al Parsai, LL.M, RCIC-IRB
Last Updated On: January 3, 2022

First generation citizenship rule in Canada

One of the fascinating aspects of Canadian citizenship is the first-generation rule. The rule is an effort to protect the integrity of the Canadian immigration system. Therefore, you may become a Canadian citizen by birth if you fit Canada’s first-generation citizenship rule. Let’s explore this rule further.

Canadian citizenship by Naturalization

Before discussing the first generation citizenship rule, let’s discuss Naturalization. Each year tens of thousands of people immigrate to Canada. Consequently, they become permanent residents. However, to become citizens, they must meet specific criteria. For example, they must reside in Canada for at least 1095 days before the citizenship application in the past five years. Of course, that’s not the only criterion. If they meet all the requirements, they may apply for citizenship. Upon grant of citizenship, they become naturalized citizens.

A Naturalized citizen is a first-generation citizen.

Canadian citizenship by birth inside Canada

If parents give birth to their child on Canadian soil, they become citizens by birth. However, there is one exception to this rule. Let’s assume one of the parents is a diplomat or an employee of another government. If the other parent is not a permanent resident or Canadian citizen, the child won’t become a Canadian citizen by birth. Of course, all other children born inside Canada become Canadian citizens by birth. Moreover, the circumstances for those born before February 15, 1977, become complicated. However, I’d rather not discuss this matter here.

A person who becomes Canadian by birth inside Canada is a first-generation citizen.

Canadian citizenship by birth outside Canada

Let’s say parents give birth to their child outside Canada. Therefore, the child becomes a Canadian citizen by birth only if at least one of the parents is a first-generation citizen. There you have it: The first generation citizenship rule!

Defining the first generation citizenship rule in Canada

Based on what I discussed in the previous section, a child born outside Canada becomes a Canadian citizen only if at least one of the parents

  • is a Canadian citizen by birth born on Canadian soil, or
  • is a Naturalized Canadian citizen.

When did the first-generation citizenship rule come into effect?

April 17, 2009, marks the first date of implementing the first generation citizenship rule. Consequently, this rule does not apply if the birth outside Canada occurred before April 17, 2009. A child could become a Canadian citizen by birth before that date if at least one of the parents were a citizen, regardless of birth location and the first generation complications. However, if that child did not receive a citizenship certificate, getting a certificate could be tricky today. If this applies to you, book a consultation with me to discuss your options.

Let us help with the first-generation rule or other matters!

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    Al Parsai, LLM, MA, DTM, RCIC
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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    Al Parsai, LL.M, RCIC-IRB

    Al Parsai is a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University (Osgood Hall Law School). A respected member of CICC, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.