Friday, April 17, 2009

I could'a been a Canadian?!

Canada today announced a change in their Citizenship Requirements
A new law amending the Citizenship Act will come into effect on April 17, 2009. The new law will give Canadian citizenship to certain people who lost it and to others who will be recognized as citizens for the first time.

Citizenship will be automatic and retroactive to the day the person was born or lost citizenship, depending on the situation. These people will not have to apply for citizenship, but may need to apply for a certificate to prove their citizenship. People who are Canadian citizens when the law comes into effect will keep their citizenship.
The link above, to the Canadian Govt website, goes into detail about the changes in the law, for those who are curious as to whether or not they might be a Canadian.

The part that surprised me was the following:
Under the current rules, it’s possible for Canadians to pass on their citizenship to endless generations born outside Canada. To protect the value of Canadian citizenship for the future, the new law will – with a few exceptions – limit citizenship by descent to one generation born outside Canada.
My second great grandfather, Samuel Van Every, was born in Canada. It appears that before today, it's possible I could'a been a Canadian! But wait, it also says: People who are Canadian citizens when the law comes into effect will keep their citizenship. So was I a citizen when the law went into effect, and I just didn't know it?

Not being 100% clear on the past requirements of Citizenship-by-Descent. I did some further research. The government website lists several scenarios

Here's one scenario:

Second or subsequent generation born abroad after 1977

Fictional case: Maria is a fourth-generation Canadian born abroad:

  • Maria was born in Belize in 2001 and has never lived in Canada.
  • Maria’s father was born in Belize in 1978 to a Canadian mother (Maria’s grandmother).
  • Maria’s grandmother was born out of wedlock in Belize in 1955 to a Canadian mother (Maria’s great-grandmother).
  • Maria’s great-grandmother was born in Belize in 1937 to a father who was born in Ontario in 1915 (Maria’s great-great-grandfather). Maria is a citizen today and must take steps and apply to keep her citizenship before she turns 28.

Citizenship status: Under this bill, Maria would remain a citizen and would no longer be required to apply, before her 28th birthday, to retain her Canadian citizenship.

If Maria has children abroad after the bill comes into force, her children would not be citizens.
I wasn't born after 1977, and I am over the age of 28. If one had to apply before the age of 28 in the past, it appears I missed my opportunity. However, my niece and nephews appear to fall under a scenario similar to the one above, and all three of them have some time to think about whether or not they wish to apply.

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