Military couple to take adopted child’s citizenship battle to Min. Kenney
Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013 12:20PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 11, 2013 1:01PM EDT
A military couple living in Ottawa was told the child they are adopting from Haiti will not be granted Canadian citizenship and plan to take their case directly to the Citizenship and Immigration Minister.
It is unwelcomed news they call discriminatory and unfair.
“To be told that we’re at a disadvantage because our parents were serving their country is a slap in the face,” said Sarah Currie.
Currie and her husband, Mike, were both born in Germany while their parents worked abroad for the Canadian military.
Laws were amended in 2009 to ensure citizenship was granted to the children of Canadian citizens who have a “meaningful” connection to Canada. The law was intended to prevent a situation similar to the one that took place in 2006 when thousands of Lebanese citizens with dual citizenship to Canada fled the Middle East after violence erupted between Lebanon and Israel. Many returned to Lebanon once the conflict subsided. It cost the federal government $94 million. There was public uproar and those people quickly became known as “Canadians of convenience.”
“I’m considered to be the first generation born outside of Canada, so I’m not allowed to pass my citizenship on to a child who is also born outside of Canada,” explained Currie.
It took 11 months for Citizenship and Immigration Canada to give the couple a direct answer regarding their request to have their soon-to-be fully adopted son given citizenship. On Friday they were told, via telephone, the request would be denied and to wait for the formal letter in the mail.
Currie calls it a major setback. It means there will be little chance of having their son Smith home in time for Christmas. The adoption process in Haiti is just a few months shy of being complete; and without citizenship, the couple will have to apply to bring him to Canada as a permanent resident. The average time to have that application processed is about 16 months.
Following that, it could be another year or more to re-submit an application for citizenship. The couple would also have to pay the application fee for a second time.
“Basically, I find it really insulting,” said Currie.
Until then, baby Smith has a room in Ottawa being filled with toys, clothes and furniture until he arrives.
In somewhat of a last ditch effort, Currie and her husband are asking Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to exercise ministerial powers.
Kenney has the power to grant citizenship for undue hardship or exceptional contributions to Canada.
Currie hopes her father being a decorated veteran and her husband being a three-time decorated veteran of Afghanistan falls into that category so her son can make it home in time for Christmas.
The last name of Currie’s husband is not being used at the request of the Department of National Defence. Mike is still serving in active duty for the Canadian Forces.