What Ted Cruz actually needs to do to renounce Canadian citizenship

August 20, 2013

Unfortunately for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, you can’t just say you renounce your Canadian citizenship. It’s not like bankruptcy on The Office.

According to the Canadian government, there are six steps to prove eligibility for renouncing one's citizenship. Once eligibility is ascertained, Cruz would have to fill out an application and fork over a $100 fee (the same amount is required to grant citizenship, in case you were wondering).

Cruz, who was born in Calgary, Alberta, to a Cuban father and an American mother, has maintained that because he never pursued Canadian citizenship after moving to the United States at age 4, he assumed he could never claim it. But according to Canadian law, this doesn't matter. Canada's Citizenship Act says that children born in Canada are automatically Canadian citizens, unless they are born to foreign diplomats. After the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday night that Cruz is likely still a dual citizen, there was buzz over whether this disqualified him for the presidency, a position that top GOP leaders say he is worthy of. To this, Cruz decided to just not be Canadian:

“Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship,” Cruz said in a statement Monday night. “Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American.”

But as it turns out, you can't just decide to not be Canadian; you've got to earn it. Here are the steps Cruz would have to take to determine if he is even eligible to renounce Canadian citizenship:

1. Be a Canadian citizen.

According to Nancy Caron, a spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, under the country's Citizenship Act, "children born in Canada are automatically Canadian citizens, unless they are born to foreign diplomats" and "those who automatically become Canadian citizens do not need to apply for citizenship."

So yes, because Cruz released his birth certificate, we know that he was indeed born in Calgary, making him a Canadian citizen despite never formally applying for citizenship.

2. Prove that you are or that you will become a citizen of a country other than Canada if your application to renounce is approved.

Cruz is also a U.S. citizen by virtue of his mother, Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson who was born in Wilmington, Del. Whether or not this qualifies him for the White House remains uncertain.

3. Not live in Canada.

Ted lives in Houston with his wife Heidi and daughters Caroline and Catherine.

4. Be at least 18 years old.

Easy. Cruz was born in 1970.

5. Not be a threat to Canada's security or part of a pattern of criminal activity.

Unlikely.

6. Understand the significance of renouncing your Canadian citizenship.

This might be a little difficult to prove. Cruz offset his renunciation of Canadian citizenship with a bit of a backhanded compliment to Canada. But Canadians don't seem particularly perturbed, particularly these MLAs from Fredericton-Fort Nashwaak and Vancouver:

After eligibility is proved, all Cruz needs to do is mail in his completed application and pay the nonrefundable fee. If he does decide to renounce his citizenship, Cruz would be moving against the trend of Canadian citizenship applications. Last year, only 192 people applied to renounce their citizenship (the average over the last five years has been 196) and according to CBC News in Ottawa, citizenship applications have increased by 30 percent from 2006 to 2012. There are currently 350,000 permanent residents on the waiting list, which will make it very difficult for Cruz should he ever change his mind.

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Chris Cillizza | August 20, 2013