Canadian citizens who reside abroad have been known to fall in love and have children. When those children are born outside Canada, they may be entitled to Canadian Citizenship, but there can be a lengthy process to obtain proof from the immigration authorities that the child is Canadian. This document is the Canadian Citizenship Certificate.
Whereas Canadian-born children are automatically eligible for a passport on the basis of their Canadian birth certificate, a child born abroad needs the extra step of getting the citizenship certificate as proof of this, and then the Canadian passport.
Therefore, Canadian families who want to travel home to Canada need to plan well in advance to ensure that any foreign-born children can obtain a Canadian passport in time to join the trip. During the COVID pandemic, the processing time for a Canadian citizenship certificate reached 18 months. That is a long time to be stuck abroad, without the opportunity to travel back to Canada as a family, particularly during a global pandemic.
Is my child a Canadian citizen?
Under the Canadian Citizenship Act, a child born outside Canada to at least one parent who is a Canadian citizen is automatically a Canadian citizen at birth as long as their parent was born inside Canada, or became a naturalized Canadian citizen.
Children born outside of Canada, after April 2009, to a parent who is a Canadian citizen will not be granted citizenship at birth if their parent was born outside Canada and inherited their own citizenship because one of their parents was Canadian at the time of their birth. This is called the ‘second generation cut-off’ rule.
Just a note about something that is pretty obvious, but we will re-state it. A child born in Canada will have automatic citizenship and a Canadian birth certificate, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. There are very few exceptions to this (like children of foreign diplomats).
How do I get a Canadian Passport for my child?
To be eligible for a Canadian passport for your child born abroad, you will first need to obtain formal proof of your child’s citizenship status, namely the Canadian Citizenship Certificate. The Canadian biological parent must make the application on behalf of their child born abroad to the nearest Canadian Consulate or Embassy in the region.
Once this application has been processed by the immigration authorities and a Canadian Citizenship Certificate has been granted, you can then apply for a passport – usually to the same Consulate or Embassy. This entire process can take well over a year, so it is recommended that parents start making the application to obtain the Canadian citizenship certificate for their children shortly after birth.
What if we need to travel to Canada before Proof of Citizenship can be obtained?
Most Canadian Consulates or Embassies overseas will have a process that you can follow to obtain an Emergency Travel Document for a child that is born abroad to a Canadian parent. This document can be issued at the discretion of the Canadian government to a baby who is likely Canadian, but who currently does not have the proof of Citizenship document. With this travel document, your child will be able to travel back to Canada with you (usually one time only) while waiting for the Canadian citizenship certificate to obtain a Canadian passport.
What do I do if my child is not a Canadian Citizen?
If you yourself were born outside of Canada and obtained Canadian Citizenship from one of your parents as a first generation citizen born abroad, then your foreign-born child is not entitled to inherit Canadian Citizenship at birth. These children are the second generation children born abroad and are not granted automatic or birthright citizenship.
You will need to sponsor the child for Permanent Residency as the first step, a process that can normally take 6-12 months. Once the child is landed as a Permanent Resident, if they are under the age of 18, they are eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship immediately, as the minor child of a Canadian citizen who has become a Permanent Resident. There is no physical presence requirement for a minimum time in Canada.
But if your child becomes a Permanent Resident after the age of 18, then time spent in Canada is required, as it is with other Permanent Residents who apply for citizenship. They will need to live in Canada for at least three years before they are eligible to apply for Canadian Citizenship. If a permanent life in Canada is desired, it is always wise to obtain citizenship at the earliest opportunity, because citizenship comes with certain rights under law that protect your ability to live in Canada, compared to permanent residents.
It’s important to note that you can only sponsor your child for Permanent Residence while they are single and under the age of 22. After the age of 22, the child is not eligible to be sponsored and loses the ability to achieve permanent status in Canada on the basis of their parent’s citizenship.
Can my child have Multiple Citizenships?
Yes. It is worth noting that Canadian citizens may have citizenship in any number of other countries – indeed, having multiple citizenships is quite common in Canada.
But some countries require their citizens to give up their citizenship if they acquire another one, so you may want to clarify this with the foreign government where applicable. The Government of Canada has no such rule; another citizenship or multiple citizenships will be no problem for Canada.
At The Way Immigration, we have helped many successful applicants obtain proof of Canadian citizenship for their children born aboard. Of course, we routinely help adults transition from Permanent Residence to Canadian citizenship as well, and share with them the excitement of their citizenship ceremony as the final step in a long road to calling Canada home. Contact us today to discuss your questions about citizenship for yourself or your child born abroad.