The short answer to that question is yes. Children born on Canadian soil do become citizens at birth, without any other requirements or applications. This applies no matter where the parents were born or what their citizenship is. The parents do not have rights to citizenship by virtue of giving birth in Canada though, and there are many things to consider in terms of knowing your rights as a non-citizen.
When a child is born, the parents must choose whether to return to their country of origin or become Canadian citizens or permanent residents. There are many ways to get permanent resident status for individuals not born here who have Canadian born children
The fact that children born here become citizens at birth is one more reason to have a baby in Canada, because this is not the case in most of the world.
A Brand New Citizen
Canadian law is clear. If an individual is born here they have “the right of soil” – or birthright citizenship – and every right afforded all to citizens. This is the case even if neither parent was born in Canada – again, this makes Canada the exception rather than the rule.
Countries around the world have been changing their birthright citizenship laws, but not Canada. Even in well established communities like Australia, France and Germany, babies are no longer granted citizenship simply because they were born there.
Canada is just one of 35 countries worldwide that automatically grants citizenship to babies born on its soil.
What Does it Mean to be Canadian Born?
Canadian children of non-Canadian parents have many rights and freedoms. They benefit from all social programs like unemployment and Canada’s pension plan. The child has the right to travel around the world on a Canadian passport, and to return home to Canada.
Parents do not automatically become citizens because they gave birth to a child in Canada. If they stay in Canada they typically do so on a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or by virtue of being permanent residents.
Many families return to their country of origin knowing they can return to Canada as parents of a Canadian citizen. Children can return any time and even alone once they are old enough.
Although the parents of a Canadian citizen have an easier path to immigration and citizenship, many non-residents come to Canada to give birth because they know it will mean a better life for their children.
Becoming a Citizen as a Parent
If individuals wish to obtain Canadian citizenship they must first apply to become a permanent resident. Once an individual has established permanent resident status, they may apply to become a Canadian citizen. They have to meet certain conditions, including a language proficiency requirement and a residence requirement.
At age 18, the adult child can also sponsor the parent for permanent residence. To sponsor a parent or grandparent the child must demonstrate the ability to provide financial support. The government will ask for the promise that the parent will not be reliant on social services.
Is Canada Going to Change its Policy?
Some politicians have been applying pressure to Canada to eliminate birthright citizenship. Their fear is that increasing numbers of people will travel to Canada to give birth to a child who will later sponsor permanent resident applications for the whole family. Some politicians in the United States have been grappling with similar concerns.
One of the reasons that birthright citizenship is not being abandoned yet is that it would be very expensive to do so. Changing the entire citizenship and immigration infrastructure would be very difficult.
Another reason is that there is nothing to replace the policy. Currently, citizenship and immigration falls under the Federal government, but it is likely that changes would fall to the provincial governments, which could result in a chaotic system.
Many organizations including the Abolitionists in the Metis community are in favour of birthright citizenship as part of their own heritage. They strongly support keeping things the same.
Where to Go for Support
Immigration law is very complex, so it is important to reach out to someone for advice. Having a baby is a joyful time but it is critical to get help to understand your rights as a parent. Birthright Canada has up-to-date information about the most current policies, with language assistance available.
We can also assist with everything you will need to think about as you prepare to give birth, such as what visas to get, where to stay, and where to give birth. Pregnancy is a stressful time, and we are here to make the journey as smooth as possible for you. Some of the things we can advise you on are:
- Navigating the maze of flights and transportation options available to you, so you can travel to Canada safely and feel welcomed when you arrive
- Choosing how and where to give birth, be it in a home setting with a doula, or in a hospital surrounded by top quality medical professionals
- Finding a doctor who can provide you with compassionate, thorough prenatal care, to ensure that your pregnancy is as smooth as it can be, and that your baby is given top quality care before, during, and following delivery
- Going through pregnancy and childbirth in a way that is respectful to your culture
- Finding a place to stay where you can safely and comfortably navigate the latter part of your pregnancy and your first few weeks or months as a new family
- Knowing where to get the things you will need once your baby has arrived
- Completing the necessary paperwork to get your baby’s birth registered, and to obtain a birth certificate and passport for the baby
For more information about our services and how we can set your mind at rest while you prepare to give birth, call us today. We are ready to answer your questions, no matter where you are from or what language you speak.