IRCC introduces interim measure allowing some foreign nationals to gain Canadian citizenship faster

IRCC introduces interim measure allowing some foreign nationals to gain Canadian citizenship faster

Historically the ability of Canadian citizens to pass on their citizenship to their children, when a child was born abroad, was limited to the first generation. This means if a Canadian who was themselves born abroad, had a child overseas, that child would not automatically be able to claim Canadian citizenship through their parents.

This rule—known generally as the first-generation limit (FGL) may be adjusted by the Canadian government to now include a second-generation cut-off—if Bill C-71 is able to gain Royal Assent. This means that in the future (if amendments to Canada’s Citizenship Act are made and enforced), more foreign nationals who fit the above scenario will be eligible for Canadian citizenship. Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is expected to make an announcement on June 19th, 2024—the date imposed on the federal government by the Ontario Supreme Court—regarding permanent changes to the FGL rule.

In anticipation of these coming changes, IRCC has already introduced new interim measures, which will allow some eligible foreign nationals to gain citizenship. Click here to learn more about who the FGL rule applies to.

What are IRCC’s new interim measures?

IRCC’s new measure applies to those who have applied for proof of citizenship under urgent processing, and may be impacted by the FGL by descent. Specifically, it will apply in either of the following scenarios:

  • Scenario One: The applicant has submitted a proof of citizenship application that would be subject to the FGL rule change, and has requested urgent processing in accordance with urgent processing criteria; or
  • Scenario Two: The applicant has a proof of application in process and IRCC has identified that the application is impacted by the FGL rule. The application had previously been de-prioritized until new rules come into effect, but the applicant has since requested urgent processing.

In both of these circumstances IRCC will respond to and review the request, in addition to verifying an applicant’s eligibility for urgent processing.

If an applicant is eligible, they will receive a notice from IRCC that the FGL rule is still currently enforced. The department will also give eligible applicants the option to request a “discretionary grant of citizenship”* with relevant information for how to apply for this grant.

If an applicant chooses to apply for this grant, their application will be processed by the Immigration Minister, or delegated decision maker. If the application satisfies necessary criteria, applicants can be granted citizenship.

*The Immigration Minister has the authority under Canadian law to grant citizenship to individuals in special or exceptional cases.

Who is eligible for urgent processing?

IRCC allows three groups of citizenship certificate (a crucial document in proving one’s Canadian citizenship) applicants to apply for urgent processing.

To be eligible for urgent processing of a citizenship certificate, applicants are required to prove they need urgent processing for one of the following three reasons:

  • The applicant needs to access benefits, including but not limited to: a pension, health care, or their Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • The applicant needs to prove they are a Canadian citizen to get a job
  • The applicant needs to travel to or from Canada due to a death or serious illness in their family

Note: IRCC clarifies that the department cannot guarantee applicants will receive their citizenship certificate on time, even if they qualify for urgent processing.

What must I include in my request for urgent citizenship certificate processing?

Including the following documents in their application will help IRCC verify that an applicant is eligible for urgent processing according to one of the three conditions above.

  • An explanation letter
  • Support documents*

*Examples of supporting documents include a plane ticket or itinerary (with proof of payment), a letter from the applicant’s employer or school, a doctor’s note or a death certificate

Applying for urgent citizenship certificate processing

Those who qualify for urgent citizenship certificate processing can apply online, if they qualify, or on paper.

However, IRCC cautions applicants to refrain from submitting duplicate applications for urgent processing. For example, IRCC says that applicants who submit a paper application for urgent processing and then apply online for the same request will not have their online application processed by the department.

If I’ve lost my citizenship certificate, what other documents can I use as proof of status?

In cases where a Canadian citizen loses their citizenship certificate (or it is stolen), they can apply for a new certificate from IRCC.

Those who do not want to (or cannot) reapply for the certificate can also use certain other documents to prove their Canadian citizenship.

Valid proof of citizenship documents

Other than citizenship certificates, IRCC has identified the following as valid documents for proof of Canadian citizenship:

  • Citizenship cards
  • Some Canadian birth certificates (see this Government of Canada webpage for exceptions)
  • Naturalization certificates (if the certificate was issued before January 1, 1947)
  • Registration of birth abroad certificates and certificates of retention (if, in either case, the certificate was issued between January 1, 1947 and February 14, 1977)

Invalid proof of citizenship documents

On the other hand, the department notes that the following three document types are invalid for proving Canadian citizenship:

  • Citizenship record letters (for those who apply for a search of citizenship records)
  • Commemorative certificates (the commemorative keepsake that was given to citizenship applicants alongside their citizenship card)
  • Some Canadian birth certificates (see this Government of Canada webpage for restrictions)

Note: IRCC also notes that Department of National Defence (DND) 419 birth certificates are not valid documents for proof of citizenship.

To learn more about IRCC’s interim measures, click here.