Can I lose my Canadian citizenship?

In certain situations, your Canadian citizenship could be revoked (taken away) under the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act.

Your Canadian citizenship may be taken away if you obtained, retained, or resumed citizenship by false representation, fraud, or by knowingly concealing (keeping secret) information that could have impacted your eligibility for citizenship or permanent residence.

How does the revocation process work?

The Federal Court is the decision maker for all citizenship revocation cases, except when the individual requests to have the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship make the revocation decision.

Before your citizenship can be revoked, you will be sent a written notice telling you that the Federal Court is considering taking away your citizenship, including the specific reasons for this consideration. Within 60 days after the day on which the notice is sent, you can:

  • respond to the matters set out in the notice – you can give reasons why you should keep your citizenship, including any considerations regarding your personal circumstances that warrant special relief, and whether the decision will render you stateless
  • request that the case be decided by the Minister

The reasons why you should keep your citizenship must be presented in a formal written submission letter, which is also called the “written representations”.

Your written representations must be made in the format outlined by the Court in the initial notice. The Federal Court or the Minister will consider any written representations you make before making a final decision. When a final decision has been made, you will be sent a written Notice of Decision.

During the revocation process you remain entitled to all rights and privileges of Canadian citizenship until your citizenship has been revoked. You cannot apply to renounce your citizenship if you were given a notice of the Court’s intention to revoke your citizenship.

The outcome of the revocation process could be one of the following:

  1. If it is concluded that you made false representations, or committed fraud, or knowingly concealed material circumstances while you were applying to become a citizen, your rights and privileges of Canadian citizenship will be removed and your status will change to permanent resident status.
  2. If it is concluded that you made false representations, or committed fraud, or knowingly concealed material circumstances while you were applying to become a permanent resident, your rights and privileges of Canadian citizenship will be removed and your status will change to foreign national status.
  3. If it is concluded that you did not make false representations, or commit fraud, or knowingly conceal material circumstances either while you were applying to become a citizen OR while you were applying to become a permanent resident, your Canadian citizenship will remain in place.

If the false representation or fraud or concealing of material circumstances was with respect to an issue of security, human or international rights violation, or criminality (as per s. 34, 35, or 37 of IRPA), the Federal Court, in certain cases, may also declare you inadmissible and issue a removal order.

Could I lose my citizenship in Canada if I only have Canadian citizenship?

The Canadian government’s international obligations to avoid causing statelessness can be broken if you have acquired citizenship by fraud or misrepresentation.

What should I do if the government is considering revoking my citizenship?

Get legal help as soon as possible. You may want to find a lawyer or visit a community legal clinic.

Note: This is not legal advice.

This article is by Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC).
Published in 2019.

For More Information

  • Community Legal Clinics - A listing of Community Legal Clinics in Ontario. These clinics can give you free or low-cost legal information, advice and representation. From Legal Aid Ontario.
  • Revocation of Citizenship - Information on grounds for revoking Canadian Citizenship. From Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
Last updated: January 28, 2019 4002693