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  Citizenship bill would help adopted children
Family Helper editor
(Oct. 5, 2004) At dissolution on May 23, 2004 of the 37th Parliament (Third Session), the Citizenship Bill hadn't been reintroduced. The next opportunity to pass it will be in the 38th Parliament, which opened Oct. 5, 2004.

There were hopes that federal Bill C-18, the Citizenship Bill, could become law in the fall of 2003, but it died at the end of the Second Session, Nov. 12, 2003. C-18 had passed second reading in the House on Nov. 8, 2002. Deliberations would have continued at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, followed by third reading. As with all federal legislation, C-18 would have become law after passing both the House of Commons and the Senate and receiving the Governor General's Royal Assent.

C-18 was much like its predecessors, C-16 and C-63. It would make children adopted abroad immediately eligible for Canadian citizenship upon entering Canada. This would apply to both Canadians living in Canada and Canadians living abroad.

C-18 provided that, for all adoptions after Feb. 14, 1977, a child adopted abroad becomes a Canadian citizen "upon application". The child would not first have to become a permanent resident, but the parents would still have to apply for citizenship on behalf of their child. For more: Adoption Council of Canada, "Citizenship Bill to Help Adopted Children",

In contrast, since Feb. 27, 2001 in the United States, children adopted from other countries by U.S. citizens get automatic U.S. citizenship (see below).

The new law would benefit Canadians who adopt abroad while living outside Canada, since they currently cannot apply for citizenship for their children (because to apply for citizenship a child must be a permanent resident in Canada).

The current citizenship law requires that children adopted abroad become permanent residents before gaining citizenship. But children born abroad to a Canadian parent are automatically citizens. This implies that:
-- Adopted children are treated differently from biological children born abroad to Canadian citizens. The Federal Court had said that distinctions based on "adoptive parentage" violate the equality rights provisions of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
-- Children adopted abroad by Canadian parents who continue to live abroad cannot become permanent residents in Canada and so cannot become Canadian citizens.

Canadians living abroad now benefit from one temporary measure. Pending new legislation, Citizenship and Immigration Canada made special arrangements for Canadians living and adopting abroad, issuing a policy contained in CIC Operations Memorandum CP 01-05 of July 16, 2001. This interim measure allows for sponsorship and granting of resident status for the child, after which one can apply for citizenship for the child.

The following is from "Canadian Guide to Intercountry Adoption", :

"To adopt, you need to be a resident of Canada. The difficulty for Canadians living abroad is proving you're still a resident. The provinces have various rules of residency. Ask your provincial Adoption Coordinator ( if there are provisions to adopt while living abroad.
"One hassle is persuading Immigration Canada that you can bring a sponsored child into Canada, although you don't live there.
"Take the rules in Ontario as an example. Expatriate Ontarians must be "habitual residents" of Ontario, and the requirements are strict, calling for strong proof that you have ties to Ontario and will return soon. If they grant you habitual resident status, you must deal with an adoption agency licensed in Ontario. For your homestudy, two choices: either arrange for an adoption practitioner in the country you live in to be approved by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (CYS) to do the homestudy; or engage an Ontario-approved practitioner to visit your home abroad. For more, contact CYS at 416-327-4742,
"If you are deemed to be a non-resident of Canada, then you would have to adopt by the laws of the country you're living in. "

The text of Bill C-18 is at

For the status of bills in the House of Commons, see "Status of House Business",

Legislative summaries of bills from the Second Session are at

Find your MP. Use your postal code to get your MP's contact information:

U.S. citizenship certificates in 45 days -- (January 2004) The 2000 Child Citizenship Act made all foreign-born children U.S. citizens at the time of their adoption, but parents still had to submit an application for citizenship documents and wait up to 18 months for it to be processed.

The new Child Citizenship Act Project, launched in January 2004, automatically delivers citizenship certificates to adopted children within 45 days of arriving in the U.S., and eliminates paperwork for parents. (Without proof of citizenship, foreign-born children cannot receive things like Social Security cards or passports.) For more: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

Adopted kids get automatic U.S. citizenship -- (Feb. 27, 2001) Good news for U.S. citizens: As of Feb. 27, 2001, under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children adopted from other countries by U.S. citizens automatically gain U.S. citizenship. They must meet the requirements stated at When the adoption is finalized in the child's country of origin, the child gains citizenship immediately on entering the U.S. For countries (such as South Korea) where the adoption is not finalized in-country but in the U.S., the child becomes a U.S. citizen when the adoptive parents finalize the adoption in the U.S.

If you want proof on paper of your child's citizenship, get a Certificate of Citizenship from INS, with INS Form N-643, or apply for a U.S. passport from the Department of State.

Not so good news in Canada, where Bill C-16, the Citizenship Act, died when Parliament was dissolved on Oct. 22, 2000. C-16 provisions differed somewhat from the U.S. Act. Citizenship would not be automatic; Canadian parents would still need to apply for it on behalf of their child adopted abroad.

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Copyright 2009 Robin R. Hilborn
Updated Mar. 22, 2006

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