Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Day at the US Consulate

As Beth is here to watch the M's, I spent the day at the US Consulate in Vancouver. I was there 30 minutes before opening and was 1st in line for US Citizen Services. Unfortunately, I neglected to take my Swiss army knife off my key chain, so that was confiscated and I did not get it back. The purpose of the trip was to complete the applications for "Certificate of Birth Abroad" for all five M's and to apply for social security numbers for them. As I still hold US citizenship, our children have the right to US Citizenship as well.

We had made a prior trip to the Consulate in November when my parents visited to fill out the preliminary forms and get the instruction sheets. We had to get the actual "Registration of Live birth" documents from the Department of Vital Statistics in Victoria. Their birth certificates just would not do as apparently, they can be amended to show adoptive parents and US citizenship is by blood, not adoption. Those were $55 each. Then I needed high school transcripts, as well as other proof of residence in the USA for a total of 5 years, with a certain number of which had to be over the age of 14. So I had to send off for those. I also had to have my marriage certificate, birth certificate, passport, former passport, document of landing, former marriage certificate, divorce certificate, Canadian stamps for registered mail for each certificate, the kids passports, and care cards. It was quite the stack of documentation!

Once cleared through security (minus one knife), I had no wait, but spent the next THREE hours at the consulate: filling out paper work, 2 forms for each child, waiting for them to photocopy and notarize EACH document for EACH application, then signing in the presence of the Consul. Applications were approved and the 5 M's will each receive a "Certificate of Birth Abroad" document AND a social security card with social security number by registered mail sometime in the next 3-8 weeks.

I also got a stack of forms about dual citizenship. This informed me that as US Citizens they MUST enter the USA under proof of USA citizenship NOT Canadian citizenship. Until the end of 2006, the "Certificate of Birth Abroad" will be sufficient, but new legislation has been passed recently and as of 2007 they will have to carry American passports when crossing into the USA. So much for their Canadian passports! We will need to get them all US passports. For travel to other countries, they can pick whichever passport they want but going to the USA, they will need BOTH as the United States AND Canada will be requiring dual citizens to enter the country with proof of citizenship for both countries.

We can apply for the kids' passports at the consulate in Vancouver after we get their Certificates of Birth Abroad. Only for that, both parents AND all the children must appear in person. They gave me the forms to fill out in advance, so we will just have to bring in the photos, completed forms, all our ID and then just sign the forms there in front of the officer. So we'll need to plan a day to do that later.

I'm a little put out that our kids are going to have to carry TWO passports to cross the border. Whatever happened to the days of just having a drivers license or birth certificate? Keeping two sets of current passports for FIVE children, is going to be expensive. But it's balanced out by the advantages of dual citizenship. Our children will be able to go to school in the USA if they choose, to live or work in the USA if they choose, to immigrate to the USA and even bring spouses in if they want to. That's something that one can't put a price on.

They also explained to me about why I can't have dual citizenship. The American government does not encourage dual citizenship. According to their handout "Persons my have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice." Meaning, because my children were born to a American citizen, they have the right to U.S. citizenship. Because they were born in Canada to a Canadian citizen, they also have Canadian citizenship. So because it was different laws, they can have dual. I can't have dual citizenship because I would have to APPLY for Canadian citizenship. I can live here in Canada and work with my permanent resident status while maintaining U.S. citizenship. But if I want to apply to become a Canadian citizen, I would have to renounce U.S. citizenship; something I am not prepared to do right now. My being a U.S. Citizen means we have the option to move to the USA sometime in the future, should we want to. It's enough to make one's head hurt.

1 comment:

Mama Bird said...

Wow, that's a good day's work done!