That’s It… I’m Moving to Canada: Obtaining Canadian Citizenship by Descent

October 2016

I’ve been getting an increasing number of calls from people wanting to know if they can get Canadian citizenship, with a parent or grandparent born in Canada. Why? Because of the endlessly entertaining, but equally as terrifying prospect of Donald Trump becoming president of the United States.

I was recently interviewed in a podcast (at 6:19) on this topic. I explained that Americans have been contacting me to find out if they are eligible to move here either through sponsorships, or by having Canadian citizenship by descent.

Confusing Canadian citizenship laws

Canada’s citizenship laws are very complex. Whether you are considered a Canadian citizen depends on when you were born, what the law was at the time, and whether there were any changes made to the law affecting you since.  And believe me when I say, there have been many changes.

For example, individuals who were born pre-1947, but lost their British subject status prior to that date due to becoming citizens of another country (dual citizens), were finally awarded citizenship in 2015. Think this is an abstract example? It’s not. This is one of the cases I am working on.

Unfortunately, some of the changes have also resulted in citizenship being taken away from individuals who thought their place in Canada was secure. Bertha Funk lost her citizenship due to an obscure rule which required individuals born between Feb. 15, 1977 and April 16, 1981 to reapply for citizenship before their 28th birthday.

Another change that affects many people previously entitled to citizenship is the first generation limit placed on children who are born after 2009. This limit means the following: your Canadian born parent can pass on citizenship to you if you weren’t born in Canada (because you are first generation), but your child, who is also not born in Canada, would not get citizenship because second generation children no longer qualify.

Already being a citizen vs. applying for citizenship

If think you are Canadian by birth, when you contact me, I will let you know that you aren’t actually applying for citizenship. Instead, you are applying for proof that you are already citizen. This is done by obtaining a citizenship certificate.

You’ll also be happy to know that applying for a citizenship certificate takes much less time and effort then applying for citizenship itself. Citizenship applications for permanent residents (“PR’s”) must include proof of language ability, and proof that the PR has passed a test on knowledge of Canadian history and political structure. None of this is necessary for a citizenship certificate application.

Right now, processing times are quite short for citizenship certificate applications. The government website is listing a processing time of 5 months, but I recently had certificates arrive in just under three months. Applications for individuals living outside of Canada and the US will take longer. 

Let’s assume you’ve obtained dual citizenship… what’s next?

Unlike in the United States, as a dual citizen, you do not need to file taxes if you are not considered a Canadian resident for tax purposes.

However, to travel into Canada you will need to apply for a Canadian passport. This is because our government has announced that starting November 10, 2016, dual citizens must use their Canadian passports when they are entering Canada.

For more information on this new requirement please visit:

For more information on how to apply for a Canadian passport please visit:

Changes to Express Entry coming soon

Our Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister John McCallum, has made a number of statements suggesting that major changes to our Express Entry system will be announced this fall. Specifically, he’s hinted that a new and improved Comprehensive Ranking System will make it easier for international students to qualify for permanent residence. Right now, international students are struggling to get enough points to be selected.

I will send out a newsletter detailing the changes as soon as they are announced. Stay tuned!