A Canadian man who found himself stuck in Kenya with his new born surrogate twins due to complications around his citizenship will finally be able to bring them home.
“We got our visas!!!!!! Thank God!!!,” Joseph Tito excitedly wrote to CityNews.
A Toronto native, Tito chose to fulfill his dreams of becoming a father by choosing a foreign surrogate — a process that was easier and less expensive than surrogacy in North America.
Soon after his twin girls Stella and Mia were born, Tito spent many sleepless nights most new parents are familiar with, but not for the same reasons — along with caring for his babies, he was busy filling out the paperwork required to bring them home.
However, the process proved to be far less straightforward than he anticipated.
Tito was born to a Canadian mother in Italy and inherited her Canadian citizenship. However due to changes in Canada’s Immigration Act, he is considered “second generation Canadian” and his newborn daughters do not automatically inherit his citizenship as they were born outside the country. In order for them to enter the country, Tito has to sponsor them as foreign national family members.
Initially, Tito says he was told his girls would have to stay in Kenya for the duration of the sponsorship process and he would not be allowed to bring them to Canada while formalities were underway.
However, Tito told CityNews that when he submitted sponsorship documents for the girls at the end of December, he was offered the option of applying for a temporary resident visa for the twins — which would allow them to travel to Canada while their sponsorship is processed.
He credited the worldwide media attention his story received for the sudden change.
“I think the media really helped move things along,” he wrote. “They (authorities) were a lot nicer on Monday (Dec. 31) and offered me the temporary resident visa (TRV) option”
On Monday, Tito said his twins have received their visas and all three of them will be returning to Canada on Wednesday.
While all’s well that ends well for Tito, immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk says there are some important legal considerations people should keep in mind while exploring foreign surrogacy:
Canadian citizenship laws
Sandaluk says if a person is born to a Canadian citizen outside of Canada, they are considered a Canadian citizen by birth. That is still the case, but applicable only to one generation.
That means if a person who became a citizen by virtue of being born to a Canadian outside Canada then goes on to have children who are also born outside Canada, those children have no status in Canada at all. They have to be sponsored by the parent in order to enter Canada, just like any other foreign national.
“They (parents) have to make sure they have the time and the ability to sponsor that child back to Canada as a member of the family class,” says Sandaluk. “Otherwise what may happen is their child may be stranded overseas.”
On the other hand, if a person becomes a citizen by virtue of being born in Canada and then has a child abroad, the process is a lot simpler. Sandaluk says the new parent would simply have to apply for a Canadian citizenship certificate and a Canadian passport abroad before travelling back to Canada.
Sandaluk says potential parents should thoroughly educate themselves about the laws that are applicable in the country and jurisdiction where they go through surrogacy.
He says that people may choose surrogacy abroad as it is a lot cheaper in other countries as the value of the Canadian dollar is better and there are fewer regulations. However, he warns that there are potential legal pitfalls that could land up costing a lot more.
“In a lot of cases it’s a matter of being penny wise and pound foolish,” he says. “A lot of people can be entangled in foreign laws that they aren’t necessarily prepared for and the Canadian government may be of relatively little assistance to them in dealing with foreign legal authorities.”
In those cases, an immigration lawyer may be necessary, adding to overall costs and time spent abroad.
Sandaluk adds there is no such thing as being too cautious when it comes to foreign surrogacy and people should be fully prepared with all the necessary documents to go through whatever processes are required, including proof of status in Canada and proof of relationship to the child.