Thursday, 8 June 2017

Canadians travelling to Canada with their foreign-born children

(updated 21 June - need to visit consulate to pick up temporary passports!  Also, it's possible to use the Special Authorisation!)
(updated 9 June and again 11 June after I finally received an email response to my initial query from 3 weeks earlier.  You can read it here.)

Are you a Canadian dual-citizen living abroad and wanting to visit home?
Are you Canadian, but your children were born abroad and you want to visit Canada?

Guess what... you MUST travel to Canada on a Canadian passport if you're a dual citizen.

Guess what again... If you were a Canadian citizen when your children were born abroad... they're Canadian citizens, too.  It doesn't matter if they've never been to Canada, the Canadian government considers them citizens.  They must, therefore, travel on a Canadian passport to visit Canada.  Crazy, right?

We're just going through this situation.  I'm Australian and my wife is Canadian and we live in Australia.  We have two children, both were born in Australia and have Australian citizenship and passports.  A month before we were due to fly to Canada, we found out the bad news.  They have to get Canadian passports!  No travelling on their perfectly good Australian passports, oh no.

What do you need to know?  First off, this only applies to children who have at least one parent who was a Canadian citizen when they were born.  You can apply for citizenship and a passport from outside of Canada, but it's a lengthy process.  You don't have to have the citizenship sorted to get a passport, but you have to have applied for it with all the right documentation.  There are faster options for the passport, so read on.

If you have 18 months or so up your sleeve, then apply for the citizenship right now.  It can take up to 15 months, although when I checked, current processing times were 10-12 months.  Once you get it, apply for the standard 5-year passport, which can take 9 weeks or longer.  If you need the passport sooner, you can apply without proof of citizenship (i.e., you've applied, or are applying) and you'll get a limited validity passport (2 years), which I think takes about 45 business days.  Lastly, if you're really close to your travel date, you can get a temporary passport that you need to send back within 60 days to swap for the limited validity passport.  That takes about 10 business days.  Confused yet?

The next step depends on when you're planning to go, and if you've already paid for flights and have a flight itinerary.  If you're not travelling within the next 10 weeks, you should be able to get away the limited validity passport.  Any less, and you probably need the temporary passport.  (Update: it took 45 business days, not including postage time for my wife to get her passport renewed.  That's 10 weeks - don't delay!)

Unfortunately, you won't find all the information and forms that you need on the main Canadian government website.  I've provided links to everything you need, though.  If you're outside of Canada, you're supposed to contact your local consulate and they'll provide the right information.  They're swamped.  There are so many people desperately applying for passports right now, you'd be lucky if they write back to you within 3 weeks, and it doesn't seem possible to call them.  When they did contact us, though, they were very helpful and really wanted us to get through the process in time to travel.

I did eventually find the Canadian High Commission in Australia's web page which has better information.


Citizenship


You have to apply for citizenship for your kids.  Here's how.
First up, a couple of links:

Apply for proof of citizenship
Application for a citizenship certificate (adults and minors)
Guide to applying for citizenship
Apply for proof of citizenship urgently

Steps:
  1. Download and complete the citizenship application
  2. Get the citizenship photos taken
  3. Pay the fees
  4. Get certified copies of the relevant documents
Documents you need:
  1. CIT 0001 - Citizenship application form
  2. Child's birth certificate - certified copy
  3. Canadian parent(s) birth certificate(s) - certified copy
  4. Canadian parent(s) ID such as driver's license - certified copy
  5. Receipt for payment of fees
  6. 2x citizenship photos
Notes:
  • You'll probably find you need the Canadian grandparent's citizenship details, including the birth certificate number.
  • If you're a parent filling in the application for your child, you're not appointing yourself as a representative so don't worry about that form.
  • Who can certify copies of the birth certificates and ID?  The website says only a notary public can do that from outside Canada.  $120 for 3 photocopies!!  Gaaagh!!  However, the consulate in Australia were very clear to me that a Justice of the Peace was fine to certify the copies.  Another reason to be very grateful for the wonderful service that JPs provide.
  • Make sure you take copies of the both the front and the back of any documents.
  • You must pay the citizenship fees online, and print out the receipt to include in the application.  For each child, you need to pay for a minor ($100) and a citizenship certificate ($75). (Update - the consulate told me we'd get a $200 refund, so it appears that you only have to pay for the certificate. I can't guarantee this though, as we won't find out for about a year!)
  • The citizenship photos are the same format as Australian passport photos.  Lucky they give you 8 when you get them done at Australia Post! Make sure you write on the back of both of them correctly.
  • If you're applying for multiple children, make sure you have copies of each of the documents for each application.  We didn't the first time around, they split our applications, lost one, and almost rejected the other one because it was missing documents.

Passport


You can apply for a passport at the same time as citizenship, but it will be a limited validity passport.  If you're travelling within 10 weeks, you probably want to also apply for a temporary passport, which you then agree to swap for the limited validity passport within 60 days.  There's one form for (any type of) the passport, another form to acknowledge that you may get a limited validity passport, and a third form to agree to the temporary passport exchange.


Steps:
  1. Download and complete the child passport application
  2. Get the passport photos taken
  3. Take photocopies of IDs
  4. Find a guarantor
  5. Get guarantor to sign, sign, sign
  6. Fill in the credit card authorisation form
  7. Print out and complete the extra passport forms as required
Documents you need:
  1. PPTC 042 - Child passport application form
  2. Child's original birth certificate
  3. Canadian parent(s) original birth certificate(s)
  4. PPTC 116 - Limited validity passport acknowledgement
  5. PPTC 120 - Temporary passport exchange agreement
  6. 2x passport photos, one signed by guarantor
  7. Copy of child's ID, signed by guarantor
  8. Copy of parent's ID, signed by guarantor
  9. Credit card authorisation form
Notes:
  • The applicant on the passport form is the Canadian parent.
  • You must send original birth certificates, certified copies aren't enough.
  • Who can be a guarantor?  It's different from the Australian passport guarantor list.
  • PPTC 116 special notes:
    • The applicant is the Canadian parent
    • Tick the box next to I have applied
    • Strike through the word "replacement" in the same line (i.e. replacement)
    • I don't know why it's there twice, so fill it in twice, to be safe
  • PPTC 120 - the applicant is the Canadian parent.
  • Canadian passport photos are a different format to Australian ones, don't get caught out.  Make sure you get the photographer's stamp and guarantor's signature on the back of only one of them.
  • 2 copies of the child's ID are asked for, but only if they have them.  Use the Australian passport.  The copies must be signed by the guarantor.
  • Also include a copy of the Canadian parent's (applicant's) ID such as a driver's license, which must also be signed by the guarantor.
  • Make sure you take copies of the both the front and the back of any documents.
  • If you're applying for multiple children, make sure you have copies of each of the documents for each application.
  • You only need one credit card authorisation form for multiple applications, just calculate it right.  E.g. 2x kids = 2x limited validity passport @ $100, plus 2x temporary passport @ $110 = $420.
  • (Update - for temporary passports, the consulate told us that the applicant needs to make a personal appearance at the consulate before they can issue the passport(s). I assume this is because normally temporary passports are only issued in cases where the original passport was lost/stolen.  You can arrange for the 'personal appearance' to be at the same time you pick up the passports.  Hate to think what would happen if you live in the outback or something!)
  • (Update - we didn't end up getting temporary passports!  The consulate emailed us when they received confirmation from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that our children are entitled to Canadian citizenship.  They suggested we apply for Special Authorization, which was approved within 30 minutes by email.  This allows our kids to travel on their Australian passports, but has a very short validity of 4 days)

Post

  • If you're travelling soon and need either the limited validity passport or temporary passport, make sure you include a copy of your flight itinerary (one per application) or other proof of travel.
  • Write a cover letter explaining that the passport application is urgent and your date of travel.  Make sure it's on the top of the pile of documents.
  • Send to the right consulate for your location.
  • Use Express Post for guaranteed next day delivery.  Mine got there around 10am.
  • Write URGENT! on the envelope.
  • Include a self-addressed return Express Post envelope for each passport application, with a "signature on delivery" sticker: you must sign for it when you receive it. I'm not sure about citizenship applications but I don't think they need a return envelope.

In case you found the Special Authorisation - it only applies to applicants who already have citizenship :( (see update above - you may be able to use this if you aren't able to get any type of Canadian passport in time, and the consulate can confirm the entitlement to citizenship)

Good luck... happy travels.  We fly out in 2 weeks' time and are still waiting for 3 Canadian passports... sigh. (Update - with about 20 hours until we fly, we got approval for special authorisation and my wife's passport turned up in the mail!)

One last note: things change.  My experience may not be the same as yours, and may find yourself with extra or different requirements.  Make sure you contact your local consulate as soon as possible, as they are the only ones who can give you accurate information.

This post in its entirety is the copyright of Roland Paix. I don't mind if you link to it but if you copy any of the content you must provide a link to the post and credit me appropriately.

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