Monday, February 02, 2009

Citizenship Quandary **UPDATED**

Ah, it was nice while it lasted!

When I first began Hannah's adoption the Citizenship process was quite lengthy requiring me to sponsor her as a landed immigrant initially and then apply for Canadian Citizenship after returning from China to Canada. The 2 main challenges I'm aware of this process were:

a) many children were being issued citizenship in their Chinese names rather than their Canadian names and,
b) the wait was VERY long. Sometimes up to 18 months or more!

You know me and my love of travel. I had dreams of doing a little traveling with Hannah while I'm on maternity leave while not needing to ask for time off work. Until Hannah is a Canadian citizen we will not be able to leave the country as I just wouldn't risk it. Some do but I don't think I'd want to.

In May of 2007 legislation was announced which would allow our children to come home as Canadian Citizens, having the citizenship finalized in Beijing prior to leaving China. (At least that's how I understand it to be - please correct me if I'm wrong.) The process was great and it was so nice to have the citizenship process taken care of early rather than having to request it after returning home.

It was good until recently when we realized there is a problem with it which causes me to make decisions now. New legislative changes are coming in in April of 2009 which will change things.

The problem is that because Hannah will be born outside of Canada, if I continue with the new process and if she gives birth to a child outside of Canada, (if she's married to someone other than a Canadian citizen) her child would not be a Canadian citizen. There are a whole lot of 'ifs' in this scenario but it would be wrong of me not to acknowledge that it could happen. What if she chooses to move back to China? What if God calls her to be a missionary and she lives elsewhere in the world?

What I'm trying to find out is if she would be able to apply for citizenship for her child. If she could then I'm pretty confident I'm going to proceed with my current course of 'automatic citizenship.' If this child would not be eligible for Canadian citizenship then that's a totally different story and I would need to stop the current process and revert to the slower 'landed immigrant' process.

So many questions and the answers are so difficult to find. I'm just not very good at reading legislation and this bill is made up of a whole bunch of it!! Ugh!

What are others doing? Just curious....

I'll let you know my decision once I have more information and figure a few things out. Until then reading, reading, reading and talking to those 'in the know.'

** UPDATE **
Thank you so much to those who took time to comment as well as contact me offline. You have been a wealth of information!

I have received information from someone who is better skilled in interpreting the legistation. Thank you Mark.

I have also spoken at length with my agency and have decided for now I'm going to cover my bases and begin the paperwork for the old process while keeping the new in process too. When I receive Hannah's referral I will decide at that time which avenue I'm going to choose and close the other one. Others have done this before me without problem and have been able to recoup the costs of the cancelled application as it will require me paying twice at this point. Money well spent I believe.

One answer that was cleared up for me is that this new process in no way will affect Hannah's ability to adopt internationally. (Can I tell you how weird it is to be thinking about grandchildren when I don't even know my child yet?!!! But, a mom does this so that's what I'm doing. Paving the way the best way I can for my child and in turn her child(ren) too.)

As the legislative changes are coming into law in April of 2009 and since these problems have been brought to light fairly recently, there is still time for changes to be made to the legislation. I do not believe for one moment that any ill will was meant against my child when this legislation was introduced. I just believe it was human error and I'm hoping it will be corrected. That may be a dream but hey....this girl can dream!

So there you have it firm decision yet other than to open both options up for Hannah's citizenship and make the decision in a few months when I receive her referral.

Off I go....lots more paperwork to do now!

** UPDATE #2 **
It looks like the news is beginning to hit the papers and the Minister of Immigration is aware of the problems and is asking for the legislation to be reviewed. It's affecting many, not just those adopting internationally. Here are a couple of articles that a friend sent to me from this mornings Globe and Mail.

Expats fear for children's fate under new rules
Canadian citizenship and children born abroad


  1. We fell under the old process and I think we waited about 8 months or so for citizenship. What we did do though was get our daughter a US visa to go with her Chinese passport and then at least we could travel between the two countries without issue. It was very simple to get an American visa, so if you go the old route, do keep that in mind. :-) Sorry the red tape seems to be getting worse, not better!


  2. Well I'm no help with your questions but isn't it wonderful to be thinking about your grandchildren?!

    For some reason knowing that you are having to factor in your grandchildren already at this point got me all choked up! How wonderful!


  3. I am going with the new process. The new law would affect either route to becoming a citizen wouldn't it?

    Keep smilin!

  4. It is interesting to see how another country runs. Very interesting.

  5. While it was several years ago, when the automatic citizenship route was not available, we did manage to get citizenship within 4 months of coming home through the landed immigrant route.

    We arrived home on Friday and on Monday we obtained her library card in Canadian name, plus applied for her OHIP card. About a week later we had her OHIP card and headed off to get her SIN card in her Canadian name. I think it took me a month to get all the necessary "canadian name" id in order to submit.

    Don't be worried about the fact that the permanent resident card will come in her chinese name. Almost everyone's does these days. It's just important to note her new name on her citizenship application. It's also easier for travelling with her chinese passport because the names match. Friends of ours travelled to the US before their daughter got her citizenship -- they simply got a US visa in her Chinese passport. It was really quite simple.

    Another single adoptive mom I know travels frequently to the US with her daughter, and commented that the US VISA process wasn't as arduous as it seemed, and that she has had more problems with being questioned about her single mom status than with her daughter's citizenship.

    Hope that helps!


  6. Hey Cathy,

    I don't think it matters which way your Hannah gets her citizenship, she would still be subject to that new legislation regarding what happens if she were to adopt or give birth outside of Canada. It is set to come into effect in April.

    I plan to go the new Citizenship route... I want my little one to become Canadian immediately. Many before us have fought hard for this privilege and I think it's wonderful. Then you can travel easily... Bev even landed in Chicago on her way home, which can't happen if you go the landed immigrant way.

    However, I will be spending a lot of my efforts and encouraging family and friends to contact their MP's with their displeasure that our babies will be subject to a limited citizenship.


  7. Well apparently I am no help in this situation, but I know that you will make the right decision. I am just sorry that things have to be so complicated for you.

    Love, Kristy

  8. Hey Cathy,

    Apparently I was wrong about both systems being the same with regards to the new proposed legislation...

    I'll have to chat with you as you seem to have a clearer interpretation now.


  9. i would love to know what a ll you found out Catherine.
    we started the old system way and then jumped to the new automatic citizeship route as soon as it was available.

    i'm not sure what to do but i know i am very displeased with our government and their 'oversight' on how this affects all the Canadian children that aren't born on Canadian sole but are every bit as much of a Canadian as others.
    It is discriminatory and creates a 2nd class citizenship.

    the limited response our agency has recieved from government has been more than disappointing. They are aware of the limits this puts on internationally born or adopted children. I also have done my part and tried through email to contact MPs and others and received no reponse - not that that suprised me. It is a really unfortunate situation since the new process was such a step up for Canada.

    I love my country but this is wrong. I'm hoping if enough of us voice this to our gov't - perhaps they will also see how wrong it is.

  10. Well Cathy - no words of wisdom. Just wanted to let you know I'm praying that the Lord will give you discernment and wisdom and that His decision for Hannah will be made.

    Always something to keep us on our toes, seeking and trusting in Him!
    Love ya,

  11. Excellent! Our process sounds similar to your old process... except it'll take about 3-6 months. When we go to Bali, Tari will travel on her Chinese passport - we have to apply for a special VISA for her.

  12. I hope they get this new legislation worked out before it is signed into law. It shouldn't be so hard to ensure your child's safety and it isn't fair to penalize her future children either.

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you.


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