Obtaining a Canadian passport when born in Canada but moved to the US immediately

My_question_is: Applicable to both US and Canada
Subject: Obtaining a Canadian passport
Expert: taxman@centa.com
Date: Tuesday February 06, 2007
Time: 10:22 PM -0500

QUESTION:

I was born in Canada in 1938 of U.S.citizens (and not residents of Canada) and have lived all my life in the U.S. except for the first week(s) after my birth. Would I be eligible for a Canadian passport since I was born there?
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david ingram replies:

The answer is no although you were a Canadian citizen until age 24. Up until 1977, Canada did not recognize dual citizenship. You would usually declare yourself to be Canadian around age 21. The subject would never have come up if you were living in the USA.

The silly part is that if you had declared yourself to be Canadian at the time, the US "did" retroactively restore your US citizenship without question. At the moment, there are over 1,000,000 people in your position and it has been receiving a lot of press lately.

There was even an article by Alan Ferguson about a similar situation involving "war babies" in The Vancouver PROVINCE newspaper today.
I am taking the liberty of reproducing it here with credit to Alan and the Province clearly shown. You can see it at the Province site at http://www.canada.com/theprovince/columnists/story.html?id=463f613a-c485-4b1c-ac42-bd899fed59b6

Let's finally give these Canadians the citizenship rights they richly deserve

Alan Ferguson, Special to The Province
Published: Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Canada's "war babes" can't believe the amount of time and money the federal government is spending to deny them their rights.

Their latest setback came last week, when government lawyers filed a 32-page appeal against a judgment they thought would end their years of isolation.

As I wrote last week, in the summer of 2006 a Federal Court judge in Vancouver delivered a blistering condemnation of the treatment of Canada's war babies.

The verdict, which ordered the government to restore the citizenship of war baby Joe Taylor, promised a long-delayed resolution to many similar cases across Canada.

But the federal bureaucracy -- blind, it seems to me, to the misery it is inflicting -- is a runaway bulldozer crushing everything in its path.

In last week's appeal, the lawyers make the audacious claim that Mr. Justice Luc Martineau erred in law on just about every conceivable point. That's not all. They say that, if the appeal fails, Immigration Minister Diane Finley is demanding the court not implement the Martineau decision until it can be taken all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Who is it that the government is so afraid of that it is determined to go to such lengths? They are mostly people like registered nurse Sheila Walshe, now 63, who lives in Westbank, near Kelowna, with Jim, her husband of 46 years.

Sheila is the British-born child of a Canadian soldier who met and married while serving in England in 1941.

Sheila and her mom arrived in Halifax aboard the Queen Mary in May, 1946, proud to be admitted as Canadians -- a "fact" of citizenship Sheila never doubted.

When her parents' marriage failed, her mom took her back to England, telling her daughter her father had "died." Sheila was "distraught," but never questioned it, until, in 1991, she learned that her father was, in fact, alive, living in Surrey.

"I was elated. It was the highest high you can imagine. I was as happy as a child again," she says.

Sheila quickly applied for a passport. But officials told her she had surrendered her citizenship by not reaffirming it before her 24th birthday. It is a provision, now off the books, that Martineau in his court decision found offensive to human rights.

Sheila and her husband came to Canada anyway. They've been here 15 years. Officially, they're visitors, unable to work, though Sheila would like to take up respite care.

"I could have done something for Canada all these years. But they made me into a nothing, a non-person," she says.

People like Walshe are being forced to struggle for recognition in a country for which their fathers were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, and often did.

In 2005, Walshe testified before a committee of MPs in Vancouver.

"I long for recognition of my Canadian-ness," she said. "Please help me." Isn't anybody in Ottawa listening?

-- alan.f@telus.net

© The Vancouver Province 2007

You can see that you fit into the same general genre and you might want to contact Alan to add your voice to his database. The more publicity the better. His email is alan.f@telus.net.

If you did want to immigrate to Canada however, you get your citizenship after just one year of residence rather than the usual 3 years.

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