Citizenship For Adopted Children – Canada’s New Law For 2008

The impetus for Canada’s new citizenship law for adopted children arises out of a 1998 Federal Court of Canada decision. (the McKenna case) That court found the different treatment of biological and adopted children in the citizenship law to be discriminatory and contrary to the Canadian Human Rights Act.

After several false starts Canada has finally passed new legislation to grant citizenship to children adopted abroad. As a group, adopting parents are used to feeling “left out” or ignored. The Federal Government should be commended for addressing issues of importance to adopting parents. Apply for Latvian citizenship

There has been much fanfare about this new rule, and it is frequently referred to as “Automatic Citizenship.” But is it really? Numerous statements have created high expectations among adopting parents. For instance:

“This new legislation will enable Canadian families who adopt foreign-born children to apply for Canadian citizenship without having to go through the immigration process.” (Immigration Lawyer website)

“A foreign-born adopted child would acquire Canadian citizenship as soon as the adoption is finalized, as long as the parents have applied for citizenship in the child’s name before they leave home.” (Official government statement)

I don’t think either of these statements will prove to be correct.


In order to understand how the new law fits into the overall process of obtaining citizenship for adopted children, it is helpful to look at the current process.

The immigration and adoption process requires prospective adopting parents to:

  1. Complete a homestudy recommending them as adoptive parents for the child.
  2. Prepare a dossier to be sent to the foreign country.
  3. File an application to sponsor the child, as an immigrant, with Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  4. Obtain a Letter of No Objection or a Letter of Approval (depending on the country) from the provincial government or Hague Central Authority.
  5. Sign a Medical Condition statement

After all these steps have been completed, Citizenship and Immigration Canada will issue a visa for the child to enter Canada as a permanent resident. The actual PR card is received by mail after the child arrives in Canada.

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