Canada has changed the rules on qualifying for Canadian citizenship to help non-biological parents with children born abroad.
The change in interpretation of the Citizenship Act allows non-biological parents to pass down citizenship to their first-generation children born abroad.
Announced by Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino on Thursday, the change 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.
Previously, children born abroad were only automatically recognized as a citizen if they shared a genetic link to a Canadian parent, or if born to a Canadian parent in the first generation.
The change comes after a legal fight launched by Laurence Caron and her Dutch-born wife Elsie van der Ven. Van der Ven bore their first child, Benjamin, while living in the Netherlands. But when they tried to obtain citizenship, they ran into problems.
With no biological link to Caron, Benjamin was not entitled to citizenship. Denied a passport, the only option for the family was an immigration application.
However, a lengthy battle has resulted in a change in interpretation of what constitutes a ‘parent’ under the Citizenship Act, in a declaration made by the Quebec Superior Court.
“I am very happy to announce this historic and positive declaration made by Quebec’s Superior Court,” Mendicino said.
“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.”
A statement from the family said: “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.”