Andrew Work's two daughters were born in Hong Kong and have only ever lived here, but they sing Canadian children's songs and know the only topping for pancakes is maple syrup. Mr Work, executive director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, has no doubts that his Asia-born girls are thoroughly Canadian. 'They can sing the national anthem and Land of the Silver Birch,' he says. 'These girls are only and always have been Canadian.' But under new rules due to take effect in April, Mr Work's daughters will not be able to say that of their own children, as the government will no longer allow second-generation expatriates to automatically pass on Canadian citizenship to children born or adopted outside Canada. The change has sparked concerns among expats. 'It saddens me a little to think that a bureaucrat in Canada would be making decisions about how Canadian they are or are not,' Mr Work says. 'They will no doubt be comfortable in a global milieu and likely travel and work around the world. But their little hearts are as Canadian as mine and they should be as Canadian as I am.' British Columbia-based Allan Nichols, executive director of the Canadian Expat Association, said the change was causing distress among expat Canadians, who were worried about whether their grandchildren might be deprived of citizenship. 'The government wanted to catch people who have no ties or no interest in Canada and in the process they caught everyone,' said Mr Nichols, a former travel consultant whose two children were born in Japan. He said there was still time to convince the government to change the proposed legislation. The government was forced to address the issue of the Canadian diaspora following a costly evacuation in 2006, when 15,000 residents of Lebanon who held dual Canadian citizenship were evacuated from the war-torn country at a cost of about C$85 million (HK$586 million at the time). While statistics are not available, there have been reports that many of those people eventually returned to Lebanon. Alykhan Velshi, director of communications for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said the government's intent was to strengthen the value of Canadian citizenship. 'We will not allow Canadian citizenship to be passed on endlessly from generation to generation by people living abroad who have no meaningful connection to Canada,' he said. 'Our government is deeply committed to strengthening Canadian citizenship while ensuring that our laws make no distinction between Canadian children, whether they were adopted from abroad or not.' Mr Velshi said immigration minister Jason Kenney was aware that concerns had been raised and was reviewing aspects of the legislation. The impact of changes to the current system would affect the estimated 2.7 million Canadians living abroad, said Kenny Zhang, a researcher with the independent Asia Pacific Foundation think-tank. He said one potential problem in denying citizenship to those born outside the country would be creating stateless children born in countries that did not grant citizenship. About 9 per cent of Canadians live abroad. The largest expat community is in Hong Kong, which is home to 250,000 to 300,000 Canadians.