Saturday, July 7, 2012

Immigration: Which Process to Choose?

In this previous post, I had told you a bit about the different parts of the international adoption process in Canada.
So far, we've completed 1 step out of 3:

- Canadian Process (Home Study)
- Sri Lankan Process (Dossier and Match)
- Immigration Process

Step 2 is well under way (our Dossier is completed and we're waiting for a Match).
And while we wait, we're starting Step 3. The immigration process cannot be completed before you have your kid, but it should be started while you wait. If your country has a particularly quick process, you should probably even start while you're still in the Home Study process... I know some countries also require that the immigration be started before the Dossier can be sent out. It's not the case for Sri Lanka.

Pablo and I have just started looking at this process a few weeks ago. At first, I was severely overwhelmed by the amount (and vagueness) of the information to process. But my naturalized husband was unimpressed and took things into his own hands.

The very first thing to do is to decide on which process to use. Let me explain:
There are 2 ways for your internationally adopted child to become a Canadian citizen. 
1- Immigration Process: This is the old way of doing things. It's also slower and more complicated. It involves sponsoring your child, obtaining a Permanent Resident Visa (which will grant her Permanent Residency upon entry to Canada) from the Canadian visa office in her country of birth, and applying for Canadian Citizenship once the child is in Canada. Travelling outside of the country will be more complicated for your family as long as she remains a Permanent Resident. It may mean obtaining visas for her that you do not need for Canadian citizens. 
2- Citizenship Process: This newer process was put in place to simplify our lives. It's done in 2 parts. First, adoptive parents have to prove that they are eligible. Then they apply for their child's Citizenship. They can then obtain a Canadian passport for him. 

If the automatic Citizenship process is so much simpler, then why doesn't everybody use it?
There are several reasons to go the extra mile and choose the Immigration process. First, adoptive parents may not be eligible to apply for automatic Citizenship. There is a long list of conditions you have to meet... The other good reason to consider the long process is that automatic Citizenship is not hereditary...
If your grandchildren are born in Canada, then that's no problem. But if your kid ends up living abroad and having kids in, say, Zimbabwe, then your grandchildren will not be Canadians. In some cases, the only citizenship your grand-kids could have is that of your child's country of origin. And in extreme cases, your grand-kids could be stateless... Of course, if it's important to him, your child will come back to Canada before his children are born. But this limits his lifestyle options as an adult.

So how exactly do you decide? These are questions you should consider when choosing your process:
- Are you eligible for both processes? The conditions are listed here
- How important is it to you to keep doors opened for your child to make his own decisions about where he lives in the future? Does your family culture encourage relocation and long term travels?
- How limiting is your child's country-of-origin's citizenship? If your grand-children end up having citizenship only from a third world country, travelling (even to visit Canada) could be an ordeal for their whole life. If, however, you adopted from a rich country with an easy-to-live-with citizenship, you may decide the consequences of them not being Canadians is bearable.
- How much will you need to travel in the months after you bring your child home? Are you willing to obtain a visa for her every time you travel out of Canada? Approximate processing times for Citizenship Applications are available here.

For all the information about the differences between the Citizenship and the Immigration process, see this page from Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website.
There is detailed information about the first generation rule on this page too, under New Citizenship Law and Adoption

And if you end up choosing the long, unclear Immigration process, stay tuned! Pablo and I, although eligible for both, have decided that the risk of our grand-children being Sri Lankan and not Canadian outweighs the extra paperwork. We're going to try to sponsor our Cinnamon Bun and obtain the PR visa for him/her. In the coming weeks, I'll post about how the paperwork is coming along, and what I understand about the process...


  1. Hi Gen,
    So glad you and Pablo made a decision on this. It is one of those things that only PAP understand. Sometimes I truly believe we speak a language of our own. Birth parents don't have to consider this at all! I am keen to hear about the process. My Ontario agency encouraged me to go the citizenship route although I have heard of others going the immigration process. I think you have been wise to take your time. I kind of jumped when they said to do it back in January!
    Take care,

    1. Didn't your country ask for Part 1 to be done for your Dossier, though? That would precipitate a decision for sure!
      I'm glad you're still reading my blog... This means you're not cutting off all ties to adoption. It must mean you are on the way to recovery...