CABA Publishes Academic Study of the Transmission of Canadian Citizenship Abroad

– For Immediate Release –

New York, NY, September 16, 2022:

The Dalhousie Law Journal has published an independent academic study supported by the Canadian American Bar Association focusing on the First Generation Limitation (the “FGL”) imposed on the transmission of Canadian citizenship abroad.

The study was undertaken by citizenship law professor Michael Pal and Luka Ryder-Bunting of the University of Ottawa with support from CABA’s Cross-Border Research Program.

The FGL was enacted by the Canadian Parliament in 2009. As a result, children born to Canadian parents on foreign soil will not, absent certain exceptions, acquire Canadian citizenship “by blood” — through the application of jus sanguinis — where both parents are also foreign-born. The FGL replaced a more expansive policy that permitted the transmission of Canadian citizenship to consecutive foreign-born generations, but required that these individuals apply to retain their citizenship prior to their 28th birthday. The Canadian government has justified the FGL as a way to simplify the previous law and to preclude the creation of so-called “Canadians of convenience” who lack a true attachment to Canada.

At the outset of their in-depth study, Professor Pal and Mr. Ryder-Bunting observe that the imposition of the first-generation limitation is controversial, as it is much more restrictive than the previous Canadian rules or those in many comparable jurisdictions. Their article then outlines the operation of the current Canadian rules around citizenship, analyzes the first-generation limitation, and sets out relevant international comparisons. After evaluating the current legal regime in light of debates about the principles of jus soli, jus sanguinis, and jus nexi, Professor Pal and Mr. Ryder-Bunting conclude that Canada’s regime is overly restrictive when considered against those of Canada’s international peers as well as its own legal tradition. Finally, Professor Pal and Mr. Ryder-Bunting present a range of alternatives that would better meet the underlying values of Canadian citizenship law.

Professor Pal and Mr. Ryder-Bunting’s academic study is timely. The FGL has recently been challenged in Canadian court as violating Canada’s constitution. As the only in-depth scholarly treatment of the subject, Professor Pal and Mr. Ryder-Bunting’s study is sure to be of interest to the courts and litigants involved in that dispute.

CABA’s policy and advocacy program seeks to promote the rule of law, bilateral trade and the interests of the cross-border legal community through submissions to legislative bodies, educational programs and, where appropriate, direct legal action. CABA’s support for Professor Pal and Mr. Ryder-Bunting’s academic research extends CABA’s prior work on the exercise of fundamental associational and democratic rights across borders. That work has included CABA’s participation in Supreme Court of Canada proceedings that invalidated legislative restrictions on expatriate Canadians’ right to vote in Canadian elections.

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