By: Sukhram Ramkissoon
A Canadian Citizen, who I will refer to as Ms. Jones, together with her spouse Mr. Jones, were born in Guyana and have been Canadian citizens for over twenty years. They both came to Canada in 1977 and have been productive citizens of Canada and are well established.
On one of their visits to their homeland, they were empathetic to the number of children living in poverty and homelessness. Upon their return to Canada, they decided they would like to build an orphanage in Berbice, Guyana. This was an easy task but they obtained the necessary finances through their own savings and a large mortgage on their property.
In 2005, Mr. and Mrs. Jones built their orphanage. It was based on the old-fashioned concept of fostering, where they also used it as their home. The children were cared for as family and it was non-profit, non-denominational, non-sectarian organization, in compliance with the laws of the Government of Guyana.
In 2006, a two-and-a-half-year-old female child, whom I will refer to as Shanice, was brought to the home by her mother, stating that she could no longer take care of this child. In 2007, a six-week-old male child, whom I will refer to as Shawn, was brought to the home by his mother, also stating she could no longer take care of this child. In both cases, the father of these children were not named and since then the mothers of these children showed up to visit their children only on one occasion.
Since the orphanage began operating, many children were either fostered or returned to a parent or adopted. Many children grew older and got jobs and often came to visit Ms. Jones, as she was an important figure in their lives.
As Shanice and Sean grew older and with no support from relatives, they began to call Mr. Jones “Dad” and Ms Jones “Mom.” They were the only parents these children knew and boasted to the other children about their Mom and Dad. As these children had no place to go and their biological parent relations were non-existent, the Jones decided to adopt these children. Mr. and Mrs. Jones have a long history in Canada as foster and adoptive parents, so adding and growing to their family unit was an easy decision.
Since the adoption was taking place in Guyana, Mr. and Mrs. Jones ensured they complied with all the relevant laws with respect to adoption, such as applying to the High Court, advertise in the daily newspapers to determine no one had interests in these children, participate in a “Home Study” and demonstrate that they had the ability and financial resources to maintain the children. Although Mr Jones was not residing in Guyana and managing the orphanage like his wife, he had a skilled job, with finances, and proved his ongoing support to these children by way of visits, phone calls, etc.
The process took two years and in 2012, the adoption was granted to the Jones. As part of the adoption, Shanice and Sean change their surname to Jones.
Because Mr. and Mrs. Jones were Canadian citizens at the time of the adoption, they decided to apply for Canadian citizenship for these children, since they could pass on their citizenship status according to Canadian citizenship laws. Mrs. Jones and the children were requested to attend an interview at the visa office in Port of Spain, after which the visa officer refused the application in September 2014.
Some of the reasons given were that they failed to address their family ties, personal love, close relationship, or parent-child relationship. Mr. and Mrs. Jones did not have a right of appeal to the Immigration Appeal Division, so he sought judicial review at the Federal Court of Canada. They eventually withdrew this application in January 2015.
Mr. Jones then contacted our office, and my daughter Cindy Ramkissoon-Shears reviewed the matter, and it was agreed that they would submit a new application. The first part of a Canadian Citizenship application for an adoptive child is to confirm that the adoptive parent is in fact a Canadian Citizen, which was sent by our office in May 2017. Once that was confirmed by the processing office, they would later be instructed to apply for their certificates, which was mailed in January 2019.
In Cindy’s submissions, she addressed the visa officer’s concerns. Specifically, the concerns of:
- not being satisfied that the best interest of these children was met
- no or very limited evidence suggested that Mr. and Mrs. Jones’ thought about the effects of uprooting these children from Guyana to Canada, establishing new parental relationship or losing a parent again when Mrs. Jones’ returned to Guyana to run the orphanage
- lack of evidence to show genuine parent-child relationship with the children and
- the adoption was entered into only for the privilege of Canada’s health and educational systems
All these concerns ere thoroughly addressed with evidence, affidavits and in Cindy’s submissions filed with the application. On July 19, 2021, we received a letter from the visa officer in Port of Spain indicating that both applicants had been granted Canadian citizenship certificates according to Immigration Law. Shanice and Sean were further advised that their citizenship certificate would be mailed to our address, and they must obtain a Canadian passport or other travel document to enter Canada.
Both Citizenship Certificates were recently received at our office and given to Mr Jones.
As a matter of interest, if Shanice or Sean or anyone in a similar circumstance, has a child born outside of Canada, that child is not a Canadian citizen. That child will have to be sponsored for permanent residence in Canada.
SUKHRAM RAMKISSOON is a member of CICC and specialises in Immigration Matters at No. 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto, Ontario. M6A 2A4. Phone 416 789 5756.