A B.C. father is blaming Canada’s citizenship rules for keeping his kids separated from him and his home country.
Patrick Chandler was stunned to learn despite being a Canadian citizen, he wasn’t able to pass on his citizenship to his four-year-old and nine-year-old children, who were born in China while he was working there.
He attempted to bring his kids to Canada but was stopped at the last minute by Canadian officials.
“(The worker) starts stamping the documents and says at the very last second, ‘Oh wait a second. You weren’t born in Canada and neither was your daughter. We can’t process this application. She’s not allowed to get Canadian citizenship.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’” he told CTV Vancouver.
It turns out Chandler’s birthplace has complicated his own bid to be reunited with his kids.
He was born in Libya to Canadian parents, and lived in Canada from the time he was two until his late teens.
Until 2009, a child of a Canadian citizen who was born abroad automatically acquired Canadian citizenship. The former federal Conservative government changed the law to allow the first child born abroad to a Canadian to keep their citizenship. However, that child’s kids aren’t entitled to Canadian citizenship.
“I was shocked. Stunned that this was a thing,” Chandler said.
Chandler’s daughter was born three months after that law passed. He says his daughter wasn’t able to receive Chinese citizenship due to rules regarding registering births. However, she was able to claim Irish citizenship through Chandler’s father.
His son is a Chinese national.
The ordeal has left him separated from his kids and wife for the past seven months, reduced to keeping in touch by phone.
“I’ve been missing a lot in these last few months,” he said.
Advocates for changing the law say Chandler’s is a situation that Canadian expatriates should be examining.
“There’s going to be a lot of people in this boat and they don’t even know it,” said Don Chapman, an advocate for Canadians who have lost their citizenship.
Chapman argues that a Canadian born abroad should be allowed to return to Canada for a minimum of three years – the same length of time it takes for permanent residents to gain citizenship – to be allowed to pass their citizenship on to their children.
“The problem is the will of the government,” he said.
Chapman says the federal government has suggested he sponsor his children as immigrants. He’s completed the paperwork but has yet to hear if his effort has been approved.