Following the announcement of a new bill by the Canadian Government to remove the first-generation limit (FGL) for citizenship by descent on 23 May 2024, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced an interim measure to address certain proof of citizenship applications that may be impacted by the current FGL rule.

The FGL generally limits citizenship by descent to persons who are born to a Canadian parent abroad in the first generation. In other words, Canadian citizens born outside Canada cannot pass on citizenship to their children born abroad.  On May 23, 2024, the Canadian Government introduced Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, to remove the FGL and allow Canadian citizens to pass on their citizenship to their children, regardless of their place of birth.  However, until the new law takes effect, the current FGL rules remain in force. For details of the new bill, please read our published article “Canada Introduces New Bill to Restore Citizenship By Descent”.

Details of the Interim Measure

The interim measure provides the procedures and guidance on processing certain proof of citizenship applications pending the legislative changes take effect.  There are two scenarios under the interim measures: –

    • Scenario 1: The applicant submits a proof application that would be subject to FGL and requests urgent processing based on the urgent processing criteria.
    • Scenario 2: The applicant currently has a proof application in process and IRCC has identified the application as being impacted by the FGL. The application was de-prioritized until the new rules take effect, and the applicant has since requested urgent processing.

In both scenarios, IRCC will review the request and verify eligibility for urgent processing and respond to the applicant’s request in writing. According to IRCC, the processing time for proof of citizenship application as of 1 May 2024 is three months.

Pursuant to the interim measure, if the proof of application is in process and is affected by the FGL, IRCC will postpone the decision on the application until the new law takes effect. This would affect applicants who were born to a Canadian parent after 17 April 2009 and who would have been citizens if the FGL had not been in place.

If the applicants requested urgent processing and are found to be eligible for urgent processing, IRCC will provide them with a notice that the FGL is still in force and provide them with the option to request a discretionary grant of citizenship under subsection 5(4) of the Citizenship Act. Under subsection 5(4) of the Citizenship Act, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has the discretion to grant citizenship to anyone in special circumstances. This discretionary grant is to alleviate cases of statelessness or of special and unusual hardship or to reward services of an exceptional value to Canada.

IRCC will expedite proof of citizenship applications only in special cases or situations. Each urgent request will be thoroughly evaluated to ensure it meets the criteria for expedited processing. If the application does not meet these criteria, the applicant will be notified in writing, and the application will continue under the regular processing timeline. Please note that expedited processing is not guaranteed.

To apply for urgent processing, the applicant must provide a letter explaining why urgent processing is required and provide documents to support the request. Examples include applying for a job, attending a school, necessity to travel, and accessing social benefits.

If you have any questions about the eligibility and application process of Canadian citizenship by ancestry, please feel free to reach out to us through your local HLG office here. Our lawyers would be delighted to schedule a free consultation to review the program details with you.  Founded in 1992, Harvey Law Group (HLG) is a leading multinational law firm with offices across Asia, North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to cater to your specific needs for immigration and beyond.

Author: Pauline Fong


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