Citizenship change benefits couples with fertility issues and same-sex couples

IN recognition of the diversity of Canadian families, Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, on Thursday announced a change in the interpretation of “parent” under the Citizenship Act. The change allows non-biological Canadian parents who are their child’s legal parent at birth to pass down Canadian citizenship to their children born abroad in the first generation.

This new interpretation helps Canadian parents who have relied on assisted human reproduction to start a family, including members of the LGBTQ2+ community and couples with fertility issues. Until now, a child born abroad was automatically recognized as a citizen at birth only if the child shared a genetic link to the Canadian parent or if the child was born to a Canadian parent in the first generation.

This change is the result of the advocacy of the Caron / van der Ven family, who sought a durable solution through the court system to address situations where some children of parents using assisted human reproduction did not acquire citizenship automatically at birth. The Superior Court of Québec affirmed that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) new interpretation of “parent” recognizes equally biological parents and legal parents at birth, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects this interpretation under the law.

Mendicino said: “I am very happy to announce this historic and positive declaration made by Quebec’s Superior Court. This change by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada means that non-biological legal parents at birth and biological parents are now viewed equally as a child’s parent for the purposes of citizenship by descent. Canadian LGBTQ2+ families and parents experiencing fertility issues have waited too long for this important day. I know this was a difficult and stressful time for the Caron / van der Ven family, and Canada is grateful to them for the courage and strength they have shown in righting this wrong.”

Laurence Caron and Elsje van der Ven said: “Getting citizenship for our son was a long, sometimes hurtful and frustrating journey. We are extremely happy and relieved that the court corrected this discriminating policy, not only for our family, but also for many same-sex and non-traditional families around the world who could not get Canadian citizenship for their children. We are very thankful to IRCC for implementing the new changes so quickly, and above all, to our lawyers Olga Redko and Audrey Boctor, without whom we would never have gotten this far.”