Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just finished a letter...

... to my local MP regarding the misinformation his staff gave me regarding the citizenship status of my 14 year old son. I wonder if he will ever get to read it, or if it will simply end up in the hands of the person I had the offending phone call with. It made me wonder where emails go that you send to govt officials and how the system is run. If for example, it was indeed his Executive Assistant that I spoke with and then wrote a complaint email about, and she is the one that opens his emails - what happens next? Does she have any way of not showing it to him, or deleting it? I have no idea. I would surely hope that my email does not suddenly go missing in action but this situation made me wonder about that.

Anyhow I had to report her for telling me first that my son is a Permanent Resident. He is not. He was born outside of Canada, but to a Canadian-born parent, and according to Immigration Canada itself, that makes him 'automatically a Canadian citizen'. All he requires for paper proof is for me to fill out an application that is full of questions about my birth place, and his, and then copies of all pertaining documents such as my birth certificate, and his. The entire document is only about those details. But she told me he should have had a permanent resident card and was actually getting quite rude about it. She told me I should have done that a long time ago for my son. She was stressing how important that was. She directly stated that 'he has to have a Permanent Resident Card before he can apply for Citizenship'.  I told her he is not a Permanent Resident and is not applying FOR citizenship but for proof of citizenship, two entirely different documents, and explained the number of times I have flown in and out of Canada with him and how people at the passport desk were sometimes confused by his british passport, so they would send me to Customs, and the people there (you know, the ones who are fully aware of the law cos it's their direct job), would say 'why did you get sent here? your son is a Canadian citizen by your birth, so you can carry on. Sorry you got sent here. Have a nice day' etc. But she did not listen to me. She kept saying he needed that document and should not have been in the country since 1998 without this paperwork. WTF?

After I kept trying to explain that my son is not a Permanent Resident and getting so frustrated my coworkers were staring at me, wondering what was going on on the phone, she then told me that my son has NO STATUS in Canada and that he has been a 'visitor' all this time. I was so mad. She said things about how I need to get this sorted out as soon as possible because he has been a visitor for 13 years and blah blah blah crap bullcrap. It was SO utterly frustrating and maddening. All I wanted was some help filing the forms for proof of citizenship to make sure it all got done right, in hopes it might actually get done faster and he would have the document in hand when he flies solo to England this June, or to have it ready for when he came back so that I would bring it to the airport to pick him up, and also so that I can order a Social Insurance Card for him so he can get a job. He will be 15 this summer.

I have not needed a proof of citizenship document before because even flying in and out of Canada, I just had to show his long form birth certificate and mine. His shows that his mom is Canadian. Mine shows that me and my parents were all born in Canada. I just happened to give birth to him during the short time I lived in England. I have lived in Canada 35 out of my 39 years. But anyway, according to the Canada Immigration site, a 'Visitor' is a tourist, student, or temporary worker. Which one of those applies to my son? Geezus. A tourist??? Is she insane? I don't understand why people in these offices talk as though they understand the law without even attempting to look it up. I had some correspondance with an MPs office in BC and while some of the information given to me still seems incorrect as it is purely a document for 'Permanent Residents Abroad', they contacted departments and gave me links to various pieces of paperwork and guides to read to help fill them out, lots of correspondence, etc - none of which my local office even attempted to do. I should have been at the very least offered a chance to come down and have them look over the documents to help make sure they were filled out or to make sure all was there, get help understanding parts of the forms if need-be, etc. That is their job to help with Federal matters. But I was offered none of that. She told me to get this sorted out without even offering to help do it. I would have gladly went down there with my papers and shown her where she was wrong lol. But still - the offer did not come. Nothing did apart from telling me two completely wrong pieces of information and then berating me for not doing it sooner. If my son was considered a Canadian citizen the moment he was born to me, and has lived here since he was an infant and is now almost 15 years old, why would I think before this that I needed some more paperwork?

What alerted me to this need was going to fill out an SIN application and trying to get him a Canadian passport to use along with his British Passport for ease of travel, and seeing that I needed a Proof of Citizenship certificate for him.  In the past, all I have needed to do for anything was to show our birth certificates so I assumed again it would be the same for the SIN - sending in certified copies of our birth certificates along with the application. But instead I found a link to Proof of Citizenship if the applicant (my son) does not have a Canadian birth certificate ... And here I am trying to get one and instead being told by endless people that he isnt even a Citizen, but is a permanent resident, or a tourist/student studying abroad/temporary worker,  or being told to fill out Permanent Resident forms that do not apply to him. Frustrating!

So I hope that the letter I wrote to the MP will be seen by more than one person and a crash course on 1) citizenship rules and 2) how to treat constituents, will be given to all staff 'as soon as possible' in order to 'get this sorted out'.

5 comments:

  1. I understand your frustration in dealing with some clueless bureaucrat. My son, Canadian born and raised, who lives and works in the States encountered the same nonsense when he wanted to register his son, our grandson, as a Canadian. My son was getting the run-around from Ottawa bureaucrats and treating him as an immigrant applicant. I contacted my MP and the situation was resolved pronto. Thankfully I have an excellent Conservative MP. Good luck.

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  2. Thank you. It just gets annoying. Last year when my son returned from his trip, he just had his british passport and then the certified copies of documents such as my birth certificate, travel letter for custody purposes, etc. I was worried after the Canadian consulate/embassy in London said he did not need a Travel Document, as I was previously advised by a Canada Immigration agent via phone, and that in fact it was completely wrong to use that anyway because he is a citizen and that is for permanent resident (as it says right on the title of the document itself)... They said it would add confusion as well because if he is in the system as having some Permanent Resident documents (the travel one), it would/could confuse things for me applying for a simple Proof Of Citizenship certificate. I was on the phone with the London embassy myself so this is not just second hand info from my son's father. They wasted over 4 hours going down there for nothing.

    When my son arrived in Calgary, he told the customs lady that he was confused over if he was a Permanent Res or a citizen so she told him he is a citizen, and then she called me on my cell phone and I talked to her while waiting outside the arrivals doors, making sure I knew and understood that he is a Canadian citizen. She even said 'he thinks he is a Permanent resident but I told him that he is not'. And she told me to get him a proof of citizenship cert just to make it easier next time.

    But then I called to inquire about that and ended up with an agent trying to tell me he is a permanent resident. It was so frustrating. I gave up until earlier this year when I started the process again. I have my son's photos done, have the application, read the guide, have the documents copied so the lawyer can certify them for me, etc - but when I called my MPs office to see if there was a way to file them through there for speed or service (I had been advised by a few people to try that because it's not like I am trying to get him to BE a canadian citizen and jump over everyone else, he already IS a citizen and just needs this one card to prove to those who ask like passport office and SIN office). But then I ran into the conversation above and it just gives me a headache. Each person I talk to swears up and down and backwards that they are correct and they have 'been through all this before' and 'have done this before' and yet I get different answers and scenarios. How is it that there can be so many different ways to do this and different things people have done/said/filed/etc when the website itself seems pretty darn straight forward? Born to a Canadian who in turn was born in Canada and is a citizen - you are Canadian. Born NOT to someone in that scenario - then you have to go a different route and would be a permanent resident or something else. Different paperwork for those two instances - yet a mix of them has been offered to me more than once.

    In the end I have decided to go with what the actual officials at the airports in Toronto and Calgary have stated each and every single time. they are the ones that let you come in or not, or decide if you are going to be detained and sit in the office until it is sorted out and they have never ever ever told me my son is anything but a full Canadian citizen - with or without the certificate in his hands.

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  3. As a citizen he should get proof of citizenship, which would also allow him to obtain a Canadian passport. That would end any and all confusion. At least that is my opinion from personal experience.

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  4. That is exactly what I am applying for. I had already downloaded and printed off the forms, I have my son's photos done, etc. All I had left to do was pay the fee. I phoned my MPs office first because I didnt know if I could pay through them if they helped me to file it - and this is where everything went haywire.

    The staff member asked me if my son has a Permanent Resident card and number and I said 'no, because he is not a permanent resident'. she went on to say that I cannot get a citizenship certificate until he has a permanent resident card. I was so frustrated. I fully believe she thought I was applying for my son to GET citizenship. I tried and tried to explain it to her, that it is a totally different thing, because he is already a citizen - but she was not listening and continued on her path about permanent residency.

    That is why I decided to write a letter to the MP about it. She was very adamant that I was to get him registered as a Perm Res BEFORE I could apply for a citzenship certificate. That is completely wrong. I told her that it was incorrect and he is not a permanent res and she then went on to say that my son has NO STATUS in Canada and is a visitor. Someone in that position, who speaks on behalf of the member of parliament, should not be handing out information like that. If I had not already been going through these talks for 13 years but was new to the system, I might follow her advice and lose a lot of time and money in the process.

    What happens is people then go out and get the photos done, then fill out the forms, send in the documents or pay for copies to be certified, pay the free for the Perm Res package, and then get a note back eventually saying that it is the wrong application. They lose some money from the processing fee for the application, and lose whatever cost was incurred to certify documents and/or mail/courier them, and possibly even for the photos depending on how much time has elapsed. Last I read about the perm res card, applications were taking 4-6 months to even be 'opened' so by the time someone got their package sent back and directed to go for a citizenship card instead, they would have to pay for new photos to be taken, as they have to be less than 6 months old.

    That is a lot of time and money wasted, not to mention the hassle and frustration. All because one person has no idea what she is talking about.

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  5. omar khadr was also born in Canada!

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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