Today, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced the introduction of new legislation aimed at expanding Canadian citizenship by descent. The proposed Bill C-71, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act (2024), seeks to extend citizenship beyond the first generation in an inclusive manner, preserving the value of Canadian citizenship.

Key Provisions of Bill C-71

1. Expansion of Citizenship by Descent: The bill would immediately grant Canadian citizenship to those born abroad to a Canadian parent who was also born abroad before the Act went into effect. Additionally, it would enable children born overseas and adopted by Canadian parents to acquire citizenship beyond the first generation.

2. Physical Presence Requirement: Post-legislation, parents born abroad who have or adopt children outside Canada must have accumulated at least 1,095 days of physical presence in Canada prior to the child’s birth or adoption to pass down citizenship.

3. Reinstating Citizenship for ‘Lost Canadians’: The bill aims to reinstate citizenship for “Lost Canadians”—individuals who lost or never obtained citizenship due to outdated provisions in previous citizenship laws. It will also grant citizenship to the descendants of “Lost Canadians” and anyone born overseas to a Canadian parent in the second or subsequent generations.

Addressing the Court Ruling

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the government until June 19, 2024, to amend the Citizenship Act, ruling that the act unconstitutionally established two classes of Canadians. The Globe and Mail reported that the government drafted the new law in response to dissatisfaction with the slow progress of Bill S-245, which aimed to achieve similar objectives.

Understanding ‘Lost Canadians’

“Lost Canadians” are individuals affected by convoluted provisions of the Citizenship Act based on their place and time of birth. Under the first-generation cut-off regulation established in 2009, the first generation born overseas cannot automatically confer citizenship to their children if also born outside of Canada. This regulation was introduced by the Conservative government to address criticisms over “Canadians of convenience,” highlighted during the $85 million evacuation of 15,000 Lebanese Canadians during an Israeli conflict. Demonstrating a strong link to Canada is insufficient for citizenship under this regulation.

Previous Bill S-245

Bill S-245, introduced by Honourable Yonah Martin, aimed to provide citizenship by descent to those who may have lost it due to the need to petition for citizenship retention before turning 28. It also sought to offer relief to the second generation born overseas with strong ties to Canada. Passed by the Senate on May 17, 2022, and introduced in the House of Commons on June 15, 2022, Bill S-245 specifically targeted “Lost Canadians” born between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981. These individuals would have been Canadian citizens by birth but might not have known they needed to apply to retain their citizenship before turning 28.

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) reviewed Bill S-245, identifying that several amendments were necessary to address specific issues.


Bill C-71 represents a significant step towards inclusivity in Canadian citizenship laws, aiming to rectify past legislative oversights and extend citizenship rights more broadly. Once Parliament passes the law and it receives royal assent, the changes will be promptly implemented, with more information made available to eligible individuals on the government’s website. This new legislation marks a proactive response to ensure that Canadian citizenship is accessible and equitable for all eligible individuals.