Dual citizenship can complicate diplomatic protection

A good overview on some of the implications on dual citizenship when visiting one’s country of origin, in light of the Mohammed Fahmy verdict (Mohamed Fahmy, jailed Egyptian-Canadian journalist, sentenced to 7 years).

A counter example to some of the comments on the Government side during the debate on C-24 Citizenship Act, who talked about the benefits of dual citizenship, not the risks.

As Macklin notes, some countries do not allow dual nationals to enter with their Canadian passports:

As well, unlike Canada, many countries, in particular non-G8 countries, do not recognize dual citizenship. Canada doesn’t require an individual to give up any citizenship of another country. But whether that persons country of origin recognizes their dual citizenship is a question from country to country, Niren said.

Some applicants will have to give up their home citizenship because they’re not going to be recognized anymore. For example, many Chinese nationals coming to Canada must give up their Chinese citizenship, as China doesn’t recognize dual citizenship.

A government of Canada website also cautions Canadians who have dual citizenship that it “may not be legal in the country of your second nationality, which could result in serious difficulties.

“You may have outstanding obligations in the second country, such as military service or taxes. Dual citizenship can also cause problems in a third country if there is confusion over which citizenship you used to gain entry,” the website says. It advises people to contact the appropriate foreign government office in Canada before heading abroad.

Some countries may also feel more justified on their claim on a dual citizen who has gotten in trouble with the law if that person used that country’s passport to enter.

An easy solution for Canadians would seem to be to always use their Canadian passport.

But “some countries take the position that they don’t mind if you’re a dual citizen, we don’t care, but when you’re coming into our country, you use your passport from this country,” Macklin said.

Dual citizenship can complicate diplomatic protection – Canada – CBC News.

Citizenship – Varia

Catching up on citizenship issues while I was away.

Good piece by Nicholas Yeoung of the Star sharing some anecdotal reactions to the proposed changes to the Citizenship Act:


More on the British revocation provisions regarding those convicted of or suspect of terrorist activities. In contrast to the proposed approach by the Canadian government, the UK Minister has the authority, not the courts, and the UK does not intend to respect the international convention on statelessness:

How a British Citizen Was Stripped of His Citizenship, Then Sent to a Manhattan Prison | The Nation

Some op-eds on perceived remaining issues related to changes in the government’s approach to citizenship, starting with the first generation limit and a somewhat plaintive complaint about the impact on his daughter, born, living and growing up in the USA, who will not be able to pass on her Canadian citizenship to her children. Part of the risk of expatriate life, and if it is that important to her family, there are a number of paths available (but none are cost-free, ranging from the family spending time in Canada, to the daughter marrying a Canadian or giving birth in Canada).


A more serious issue is to what extent is the government required to provide consular assistance, given the increased range of situations Canadians find themselves:


No surprise that an ATIP request shows that the proposed shorter waiting time for people serving in the Canadian military is more symbolic than real, with only a minimal number of potential applicants:


The usual monthly update on citizenship processing stats, showing improvement given Budget 2013 money. The test is whether the government will continue to publish these stats should the trend turn, or commit to service standards and quarterly reports, rather than press releases when it serves their interest.


And pity the abandoned Chinese millionaires:


Consular policy shift a solution in search of a clear problem

Good piece by Natalie Brender on the recommendation for a shift in consular policy to address “Canadians of convenience”, noting some of the practicalities and other issues involved (see also Doug Saunders’ Deny assistance to Canadians living abroad? It won’t work – The Globe and Mail):

This perspective would suggest, for example, that if there’s a major problem of expatriate “free-riders” reaping the benefits of citizenship without making equivalent contributions to Canada, it could be reasonable to square matters from a fiscal angle by imposing a higher charge for renewal of expatriate Canadians’ passports. The goal of limiting “free-ridership” would also support the government’s move in 2008 to restrict transmission of Canadian citizenship to one generation born abroad.

All parties involved in the ongoing discussion about Canadian citizenship — politicians, bureaucrats, citizens and the media — would help make the conversation about policy solutions more lucid if they began with a clearer focus on what the “Canadians of convenience” problem is really all about.

Consular policy shift a solution in search of a clear problem

Deny assistance to Canadians living abroad? It won’t work – The Globe and Mail

There is a real issue here, both financial and philosophical (what should be the extent of consular service provided to Canadian citizens that have minimal connection to Canada). Saunders is a bit too dismissive of the officials who quite properly identified the issue and possible options, although he does have a point on implementation challenges and risks. And a nice plug for the upcoming Citizenship Act proposed extension of residency requirements (which will not solve the consular issue, however):

And it would need to be very well-run indeed, because the risks are horrendous: Do we really want to create a situation where we will refuse to come to the aid of a Canadian citizen in deep trouble, just because she has a good job abroad and hasn’t had the wherewithal to take a trip home for a couple of years? Do we want to risk having a Canadian die abroad of a treatable malady, or suffer torture in a foreign prison, because we have inaccurately gauged their days spent in Canada?

It would be near-impossible to implement, open to tragic flaws, and probably unconstitutional.

Far better to deal with the problem of “Canadians of convenience” using a policy change suggested by Chris Alexander, the minister of citizenship and immigration: Change the rules for obtaining Canadian citizenship so that you’re required to have lived in Canada for four out of the last six years, rather than three out of the last four years.

This longer residency requirement would put Canada in line with many other Western countries. And it would solve the problem at its source, rather than through an awkward, expensive, inhumane and probably illegal attempt to deny assistance to Canadians abroad.

Deny assistance to Canadians living abroad? It won’t work – The Globe and Mail.

The background article is here.