ICYMI: Its critics call it ‘birth tourism.’ But is the practice real? COVID-19 is providing clues

The COVID-19 pandemic and the border closures and travel restrictions that came with it seem to have put a dent in the number of non-Canadians coming to this country to deliver their babies.

The latest government data offers what may be an unprecedented look at the practice that has been controversially dubbed “birth tourism.”

It shows the number of “non-resident self-pay” new births in the country dropped by 57 per cent during the first full year of the global crisis, between April 2020 and March 2021 — from 5,698 the year earlier down to 2,433. 

Observers have stressed that the practice of coming to Canada to deliver a baby is legal and cautioned that its frequency has been overblown by critics, drawing focus at times more for reasons of racism than for pragmatic concerns.

All babies born in Canada receive automatic Canadian citizenship. 

The Liberal government has said it’s committed to investigating the issue of foreign nationals taking a shortcut to obtain citizenship for their children by giving birth in Canada, but no policy recommendations or changes have been made to date.

Under normal times, it’s hard for researchers to pinpoint the number of visitors who came here with the main purpose of giving birth, because the data would also capture non-residents who delivered babies while working or studying in this country. 

But the pandemic’s unique circumstances brought with them novel data.

As Canada has imposed restrictive measures against the entry of non-essential travellers but not international students and temporary foreign workers, the data for the first time gives a more precise picture of the extent of those coming to Canada to deliver babies.

“This really provides you with what Nobel Prize-winning economist David Card called a natural experiment, where there was one variable that changed and it affected one group disproportionately,” says researcher Andrew Griffith, whose findings will be published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy on Thursday.

“This basically confirms that when you don’t have visitors’ visas, you have a major drop in birth tourists because that’s how they come in.”

Based on hospital delivery data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information, a Crown corporation, Griffith looked at the number of times the cost of delivering babies in hospitals over the past decade was paid out of the patients’ own pocket.

The number surged yearly from 1,863 in 2010 to a peak of 5,698 in 2019, before it nosedived last year, which coincided with a 95 per cent drop in the number of visitors’ visas issued by Canada.

In comparison, the number of international students fell by only 25 per cent, while the number of temporary foreign workers actually increased by 5.5 per cent.

Griffith estimates that the percentage of “tourism births” has now reached one per cent of all births in Canada in an average year.

“This is really a question of the integrity of the citizenship program. If you come here as a permanent resident, you have to meet the residency requirements, you have to meet the knowledge requirements, you have to meet the language requirements. There’s a whole process that you have to go through to be Canadian citizens,” said Griffith, a fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and Environics Institute.

“This is legal but it’s still a loophole that allows basically fairly affluent women and families to shortcut the process, find a backdoor entry and without going through the standard process of becoming a Canadian citizen.”

The citizenship afforded to these Canadian-born children allow them to automatically access health care, local education and tuition fees, as well as other government benefits.

While any visa restriction against pregnant women visiting Canada would be difficult to administer and enforce, Griffith said Ottawa could change the citizenship act to require at least one parent to be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada for citizenship to be conferred to a Canadian-born child, as Australia does.

The former Conservative government explored similar legislative changes in 2012, but the idea was abandoned due to opposition from provincial governments, which are responsible for the administration of birth certificates, a key document for citizenship. The number of people coming to Canada for the express purpose of delivering a baby was estimated at just 500 at the time and such changes were considered not worthy of the hefty administrative costs.

“We have more accurate data now,” said Griffith. 

In a 2019 survey by the Angus Reid Institute, 64 per cent of Canadians said a child born to parents who are in this country on tourist visas should not be granted Canadian citizenship, and 60 per cent said changes to the citizenship laws are necessary to discourage birth tourism.

Critics have argued that any requirement of one parent being a Canadian citizen or permanent resident could lead to children, such as those born here to refugee claimants, to be stateless.

“Anything to deal with immigration and citizenship basically has some form of discrimination. Who do you let in? Who do you not let in? What are the criteria to allow somebody to become citizen,” said Griffith.

“Is it too rigid? Is it too open? You are always going to have the debate over how you cut the line in the right place.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/12/16/its-critics-call-it-birth-tourism-but-is-the-practice-real-covid-19-is-providing-clues.html

My Policy Options article which formed the basis for the reporting: https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/december-2021/birth-tourism-in-canada-dropped-sharply-once-the-pandemic-began/__;!!AlmGDlt8!iF8vkNntsOxOaoiOptdZnIP6_nTznLbhJ0nHgByjTRO0V5pBnecrGb7ZGeXR858$

Israeli children born abroad are automatically citizens, yet some are locked out

Of note (likely harder if not impossible for Israeli Arabs:

Thousands of Israeli children living overseas have been barred from entering Israel since March 2020 because they lack passports, and the issue has become even more pressing in light of Israel’s new Omicron-related border closures.

These children are legally Israeli citizens through parentage, despite having been born abroad, even if their parents never registered them with the state. This is because Israel’s 1952 Nationality Law automatically ascribes citizenship to a child born abroad to an Israeli parent. In a Kafkaesque turn, citizenship applies even if the state is unaware of these foreign-born citizens, and in a catch-22, citizenship can only be terminated following registration.

Prior to Israel’s first COVID-19 lockdown, these children were able to enter Israel as tourists on their foreign passports. This practice was abruptly ended when Israel closed its skies to non-citizens, and embassies abroad refused to grant entry permits to these Israeli children until their parents obtained Israeli passports for them, catching many off-guard.

Source: Israeli children born abroad are automatically citizens, yet some are locked out

Norman: I am a Canadian citizen. Why can’t my son be a Canadian citizen, too?

The first generation limit was introduced given the complexity of administering the previous previsions requiring transmission of citizenship, as well as the Lebanese evacuation of 2006 where many Canadian citizens were found to have little or no connection to Canada yet expected Canadian taxpayers to pay for their evacuation.

Norman clearly has deep and meaningful connections to Canada. However, the same is not true for many other expatriates as I analysed a number of years ago when looking at expatriate voting rights: What should expatriates’ voting rights be? – Policy Options).

But Norman overstates the case given that her child, an American citizen, enjoys visa-free travel to and from Canada, and is more likely to be able to benefit from the various temporary and permanent resident pathways than others given language skills and familiarity with North American habits and culture.

And the raising of citizenship revocation is a red herring as the provision has been repealed and is irrelevant in any case to the generation limit.

Recently, I finally began the process of preparing my infant son’s Canadian citizenship application ahead of his first birthday. We are hoping to finally travel from the United States to see his Canadian grandmother for the first time later this summer, and I thought that having Canadian identification for both of us would ensure an easier border crossing amid COVID-19 restrictions. Only in preparing the application did I learn that I will not be able to pass my Canadian citizenship to him.

My mother was born in Canada, as was her mother, but I was born in the United States. As a baby she made sure to promptly apply by mail for my Canadian citizenship, and I still have a national identity card with my pudgy nine-month-old face on it. At the time, my Canadian citizenship – earned via descent – was not yet of a lesser quality.

When I was a child, my mother took steps to cultivate my love and pride for Canada. We spent summers in Canada with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We saw the view from the CN Tower in Toronto, we took a train through the Rockies from Calgary to Vancouver, and we saw orcas swimming in the Georgia Strait. My mother rightfully taught us to frown upon anything but pure maple syrup, and I faithfully learned the words to O Canada. By my high-school years, I embraced my Canadian identity fiercely, proudly reminding friends that I was Canadian as well as American at every opportunity. I studied French in high school rather than the more obvious choice of Spanish given our location in southern California, and after my first year of university I spent a summer working in British Columbia, absolutely enamoured with the province’s natural beauty.

But it wasn’t until I was 23 that I fully embraced my Canadian citizenship. When it came time to apply for a master’s degree, I was accepted to study public policy at the University of Toronto, a city that I fell in love with. I was able to see my family in Ontario on weekends and holidays, and when I finished my degree, my citizenship allowed me to easily stay and work in Toronto for several research institutes and civil society organizations.

Eventually, I came back to the U.S. for my Ph.D., having been told I would have an easier time returning to Canada to find work after graduation with an American doctorate. Conversely, while I was able to secure a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia, the only long-term jobs I was offered were in the United States. And by virtue of remaining in the United States for employment – and by giving birth to my son here – I am unable to pass on my Canadian citizenship to him.

In 2009 the Harper government passed an amendment that prevented Canadian citizens who were themselves not born in Canada from passing on their citizenship to children also not born in Canada. This was part of a larger trajectory of limiting access to naturalized citizenship and privileging Canadians without dual citizenship. In 2015, Bill C-24 came into effect under the Harper government. The most controversial aspect of this act was that it allowed the government to potentially strip dual-citizen Canadians of their nationality should they be found guilty of terrorism, fraud, treason or serving in a foreign army – among other reasons – but the act did not apply the same standards to citizens born in Canada. As such, rights groups such as Amnesty International argued that the act discriminates against foreign-born Canadians and creates a hierarchical model of Canadian citizenship. Predictably, the act has and will continue to disproportionately affect brown and black naturalized Canadians who – whether by necessity or choice – live outside of Canada for educational or employment opportunities or because of family obligations at the time their children are born.

Supporters of the Harper government’s move toward a narrower naturalization and dual citizenship law focused on the idea that the citizenship should not be seen as a commodity. Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration at the time Bill C-24 was proposed, proclaimed in 2014, “Canadians value their citizenship. They understand it applies to us who live here and who are connected to Canada. It’s not for sale, it’s not free and it’s not without any obligations.”

For my son, this issue is not about the “value” of Canadian citizenship. And as far as passports go, he is equally as privileged with an American passport as he would be with a Canadian one. What I mourn is the lack of a connection to Canada that citizenship by descent entails. We will visit his grandmother in B.C., and I will introduce him to his family in Ontario. I’ll even find ways of passing on cultural cues and traditions, but he will never have the promise or ease of living and working in Canada himself and fostering his own connections to the country, as I did.

I may currently live in the U.S., but I file Canadian taxes, I visit regularly – pandemic aside – and I maintain strong connections with my Canadian family, friends and colleagues. Interestingly, during the House of Commons committee debates prior to the adoption of the 2009 amendment, the committee considered allowing the transmission of citizenship by descent to children born abroad to a Canadian parent, provided that the Canadian parent resided in Canada for a period of time before the child was born. Instead, the government argued that doing so would be too complicated and opted for “one simple transparent rule” that removed the possibility of citizenship by descent for the second generation.


Even though I would have personally benefited from a modification that allowed naturalized Canadian parents who had lived in Canada to pass on their citizenship, this would not have resolved the underlying flaw of the 2009 amendment. The bottom-line is that allowing some Canadian citizens – those born in Canada – the ability to transmit their nationality while denying others – Canadians by descent and naturalized Canadians – from doing so creates an unequal, hierarchical model that ultimately tarnishes what it means to be Canadian.

Corrected copy: (to her credit, Norman made the change when I pointed it out)

Even though I would have personally benefited from a modification that allowed Canadians by descent who had lived in Canada to pass on their citizenship, this would not have resolved the underlying flaw of the 2009 amendment. The bottom-line is that allowing some Canadian citizens – those born in Canada – the ability to transmit their nationality while denying others – Canadians by descent – from doing so creates an unequal, hierarchical model that ultimately tarnishes what it means to be Canadian.

My inability to pass along my citizenship is a loss for my son and a loss for Canada, especially at a time when the birth rate is at a record low and the government is scrambling to find ways of increasing immigration. Citizenship has the potential to act as an instrument of inclusion rather than exclusion. With all the government’s fanfare about the strength of multiculturalism, it certainty seems like an apt time to revisit the trajectory of using citizenship to exclude, rather than expanding and celebrating dual nationals who want to share their Canadian citizenship with their children.

Kelsey P. Norman is a Fellow for the Middle East and Director of the Women’s Rights, Human Rights & Refugees program at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. She is the author of Reluctant Reception: Migration, Refugees and Governance in the Middle East and North Africa.

Source: I am a Canadian citizen. Why can’t my son be a Canadian citizen, too?

How to Get Hassle-Free Canadian Birthright Citizenship

The latest example I have seen of marketing birth tourism services in Canada:

Getting Canadian citizenship for children brings many benefits. From avoiding international tuition fees when a child gets to university age, to easing immigration concerns, Canadian birthright can be advantageous. The opportunity to live and work in the Canadian economy is also something that could be an ideal solution once children reach adulthood and want to make the most of their skills. Accessing one of the world’s most advanced healthcare systems when needed will also provide sound peace of mind.

Despite the benefits of doing so, many people are put off attempting to get Canadian birthright citizenship for their children for fear of acting illegally, or just because of bureaucratic red tape involved. The reality is that with the right help, it is completely legal to do so, and experts can navigate the process on an individual’s behalf.

“Birthright Citizenship Canada are experts in our field, and we do everything we can to make the process as smooth as possible”, a spokesman for the Concord, ON-based childbirth support organization commented. “By commissioning us to work on your family’s project you will know that everything is taken care of. This includes the paperwork, travel arrangements to and from Canada, and all the legal and medical help that will be required along the way”.

“One of the main aspects that discourages people from seeking to obtain birthright citizenship for their children is the processes involved. Obtaining documents such as temporary residence visas can be a daunting prospect for people not familiar with Canadian procedures. Our team are skilled in such matters, and can allow you to concentrate on enjoying your new arrival.”

The Canadian Citizenship Act made it legal to get citizenship for a baby born in Canada to foreign parents. In fact in simple terms, the act states that citizenship is available to all children born within the country. Even still, the perception of complexity and bureaucracy discourages many people.

“To ease peoples’ concerns about complexity and legalities, we combine everything into ‘birth packages’. These bundle in everything from transport and accommodation arrangements to healthcare and paperwork. Our experts handle multiple files on a daily basis. As a result, they know how to get things done, and where the potential bottlenecks are. Not only that, but they take the time to communicate with the customer at every step of the way.”

Birthright Citizenship Canada’s role involves being the go-between to navigate different stakeholders from the start of the process. Only when the family leaves the country again with a Canadian citizenship passport does the project conclude.

“Our job is all about removing pain points and hassle”, the spokesman continued. “We even do our best to save our customers some money where we possibly can. For example, we advise people to have pre-natal testing carried out prior to traveling to Canada. Doing this in their country of origin is almost always cheaper, and this way it is already organized before touching down in Canada. We also have different packages available depending on peoples’ budgets and requirements.”

About Birthright Citizenship Canada

Birthright Citizenship Canada are experts in childbirth support. The Toronto-based consultants specialize in obtaining citizenship for non-residents’ children born on Canadian territory. By offering packaged services covering legal, medical and administrative requirements, Birthright Citizenship Canada aim to take the stress and hassle out of the process. This allows people to focus on the birth of their child.

Media Contact
Company Name: Birthright Citizenship Canada
Contact Person: Media Relations
Email: Send Email
Phone: +1-647-646-5437
Address:7250 Keele Street, Unit 425
City: Toronto
State: Ontario L4K 1Z8
Country: Canada
Website: https://birthrightcanada.com/

Source: How to Get Hassle-Free Canadian Birthright Citizenship

Years after savage attack on newborns, birth tourism schemes thrive in NYC

While from the populist press, some interesting coverage of the birth tourism industry in NYC:

Three years after a deranged nanny savagely stabbed three babies in a Queens “birthing center,” the assailant will not face trial – and the unregulated, makeshift maternity wards for foreign women have only multiplied in New York City.

Some immigration experts call the “birth tourism” industry that supports these baby businesses a national security threat, as they aggressively promote themselves overseas as places for mothers to give birth to instant American citizens.

Yu Fen Wang was working as a nanny at the Meibao Birthing Care Center in Flushing on Sept. 21, 2018 when she attacked three newborns, along with two adults, while screaming she was trying to kill wolves.

Wang “was found to be not responsible due to mental disease or defect and was committed to a mental health facility” on Nov. 20, a Queens DA spokeswoman told the The Post.

All five victims in the bloody rampage survived. But baby Chloe Cao, then only days old and a New York City resident, has scars and nerve damage from the attack, according to family attorney Kenny Jiang. The two other babies and their families reportedly went back to China.

The Cao family has since filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Meibao Center’s operators, Xuexin Lin and Meiying Gao. The lawsuit remains active, and is pending the return of civil court judges on May 24. Their babycare center, now closed, was shoehorned into a three-family home in a residential neighborhood.

The attack opened a window into New York City’s thriving underground baby tourism industry, where moms-to-be visit the United States, often with immigration and paperwork assistance from one of these services, give birth in an American hospital, often on the taxpayer dime, and then spend weeks in recovery at one of these types of maternity centers. Often the facility is no more than a bedroom or partitioned space in a private home. The moms soon return home with their baby, a legitimate American citizen.

Shockingly, the 2018 bloodbath apparently did little to dissuade foreign nationals from continuing to flood these NYC centers, or to prompt local pols and agencies to begin cracking down on, or regulating, them.

The Post recently found ads for more than 80 local centers, most clustered in Flushing, advertised in Chinese-language media. A visit to several of the advertised addresses revealed each one to be in a private home.

A search of the phrase “going to the USA to give birth to a baby” last week on Chinese search engine Baidu yielded 6.3 million results.

The birthing businesses appear to be unlicensed and unregulated, and they falsely advertise overseas and on foreign websites by trumpeting deeply ingrained traditions of postnatal care. In Chinese and other cultures, relatives, friends or hired women often care for a baby in its first month of life while the mother recuperates.

“The New York Angel Baby Birthing Center … has been officially registered and certified by the U.S. government and operated in a personalized, scientific and professional manner,” reads one ad on a Chinese-language website. “As long as you have a U.S. visa, let us do the rest in realizing your dreams.”

Another reads: “Cross East U.S. Maternity Service Center provides a full range of U.S. childbirth services, allowing you to easily have an American baby with a higher starting point in life and more choices in the future … everything is governed by relevant U.S. laws. As long as you have a U.S. visa, you can leave everything else to us.”

Families, according to some online ads, are promised help with everything from the immigration processing to health care for their baby from a government-regulated medical facility.

“Our team will provide you with a full service from visa preparation to safe return to China, covering life, medical treatment and legal aspects,” reads one ad for the Ankang facility listed at 48-33 192nd St. in Queens.

Famiies often pay six figures for month-long stays at the centers.

The Post confronted nearly a dozen of the centers, and visited six of them, but inquiries were met with silence or denials. It is not clear if these facilities provide any other legitimate services.

The private maternity centers in Flushing are largely clustered around New York Presbyterian Hospital on Main Street in Queens and the ads often promote the proximity of health care facilities. The hospital did not respond to requests for comment.

Birth tourism is “immigration fraud, a burden on the American taxpayer and a national security risk,” Marguerite Telford, director of communications for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington D.C., told The Post.

“I see this as a grave national security concern and vulnerability,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Mark Zito told reporters following the 2019 indictment of a Southern California birth tourism ring, saying he fears hostile governments will use the access of American citizens within their midst to “take advantage” of the U.S.

“Birth tourism can create U.S. citizens who … don’t necessarily share our values and may have allegiances to countries of concern, [who] can nonetheless return to the United States as adults with their U.S. passports in hand,” said Jon Feere, former chief of staff for ICE.

One immigration expert said that many “birth tourists” who have their babies in the United States are wealthy and connected with the Communist party.

No state or local agency contacted by The Post accepted responsibility for the fly-by-night babycare business.

The city Administration for Children’s Services said it does not license or regulate childcare facilities and directed The Post to the NYPD. The NYPD referred immigration issues to the “appropriate agency.” The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection said it had no jurisdiction. The city Health Department pointed to Albany. The state Health Department said it “has regulatory oversight of licensed health care facilities, such as hospitals … not places involved in ‘birth tourism.’”

Local elected officials who publicly demanded an investigation and reforms in the immediate aftermath of the attack, have also failed to act.

“Once we have the facts, my colleagues and I will work very closely to close any loopholes in the system to make sure that we will never see this kind of ugliness in our community again,” Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim said at the time.

Kim did not respond to more than a half dozen messages seeking comment. City Councilman Peter Koo also did not respond to repeated messages.

Kim told one local outlet at the time that a crackdown on similar “unsafe” facilities in Los Angeles “spurred a new market in places like Queens and Long Island.”

The feds in 2015 dismantled a group of maternity centers in California and then in 2019 charged 19 individuals with running a birth tourism ring that catered to wealthy Chinese women seeking U.S. citizenship for their babies.

One of the defendants in that case, Dongyuan Li, paid cash for a $2.1 million home in Irvine, Calif. and for a $118,000 Mercedes, according to the indictment. She has since pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit immigration fraud and one count of visa fraud, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California.

State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, who represents Flushing, said days after the attack that she would pursue legislation, if needed, to prevent similar incidents.

But she recently told The Post that there will likely be no state action, that it’s an issue for city agencies and federal immigration officials.

“This medical tourism, maternity tourism, is very common in the Asian community, even for locals,” said Stavisky. “The certificate of occupancy, this is where the city can step in and perhaps check in on some of these things. Locally, the zoning laws are very lax.”

The city Buildings Department lists nearly a dozen services not allowed as home businesses, but child care is not among them. The City Planning Department, which oversees zoning issues such as commercial enterprises operating in residential areas, did not return messages.

Babies born in the United States are American citizens according to the 14th Amendment, a status coveted by many foreigners for the access it provides to education, health care, employment and other opportunities, sometimes funded by taxpayers.

The children enjoy U.S. citizenship even if they quickly return to their mother’s homeland and grow up overseas. These American-born children can then fast-track family members to become U.S. citizens once they reach adulthood, said Telford from the Center for Immigration Studies.

“American citizenship is still the most desirable thing in the world,” said Jiang, the attorney representing Baby Chloe and her family. “The scale of the problem is just amazing.”

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates 33,000 babies are born to women on tourist visas each year, while hundreds of thousands more babies are born to illegal aliens or mothers holding temporary visas.

Telford said the mothers commit fraud by visiting the U.S. on a tourist visa for the unstated purpose of having a baby.

“Tourists who come to the United States to give birth and receive taxpayer-funded public assistance to cover the associated costs of their births or have the expenses waived by a hospital do not have to pay back any of the funds in order to get a future tourist visa,” reports the CIS.

A 2015 study of birth tourism by Dr. Michel Mikhael of Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Calif., found that its babies had longer hospital stays, required more surgical intervention and cost more than twice as much as U.S. resident births.

The Trump administration in early 2020, in the wake of crackdown on these facilities in California, directed immigration officials to deny women visas if they determined the expectant mothers were coming to the United States solely to give birth.

And Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) in January introduced a bill that would make it illegal to visit the United States for the purposes of having a baby. She said, “American citizenship should not be for sale.”

Source: Years after savage attack on newborns, birth tourism schemes thrive in NYC

And ICYMI, an earlier article by Graeme Wood on the impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions on birth tourism in Richmond (will do a national update this summer once I have the CIHI data):

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many sectors, and this includes birth tourism in Richmond.

Richmond Hospital saw non-resident births drop from about 40 per month to an average of 10 per month in the first five months of the pandemic, a drop of about 75 per cent.

There were 57 babies born to non-resident mothers between April 1 and mid-September, according to Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), who released the number in response to a Freedom of Information request.

In the previous 12 months (April 2019 to March 2020), there were 507 babies born to non-resident mothers at Richmond Hospital, which is about one-quarter of all births at the hospital.

During the first part of the pandemic, the number of babies born to non-residents was about eight per cent of all births.

Birth tourism falls under federal jurisdiction – Canada allows anyone born in the country to receive Canadian citizenship under a principle called “jus soli.”

Birth tourism is when women intentionally come to Canada to give birth in order to secure a Canadian passport for their child.


Korean citizenship may soon be more attainable for foreign children

Marginal change, given requirement for “deep ties”, with priority given to those whose families have been in Korea for two generations:

The underage children of foreigners with permanent residency in Korea may soon be able to acquire Korean citizenship under a revision to the nationality law proposed by the Ministry of Justice on Monday.

Generally, the acquisition of Korean nationality follows the principle of jus sanguinis, and ethnic Koreans are able to more easily attain Korean citizenship.

However, the Ministry of Justice’s proposed revision to the Nationality Act will introduce a “simple nationality acquisition policy for young children born in Korea to permanent residents.” Under the revised law, if a permanent resident with “deep ties” to Korea gives birth to a child in Korea, the child will become a citizen by simply reporting his or her intent to acquire Korean nationality to the Minister of Justice.

Previously, children born in Korea to permanent residents had to apply for naturalization, even if they completed their primary and secondary education in the country.

Although the revision does not signal a complete abandonment of the jus sanguinis principle, it would make it significantly easier for minors to become Korean citizens earlier in their youth.

If the revision passes, children 6 years old or younger would be able to report an intent to naturalize without any additional requirements. Children who are 7 or older can do the same, provided they have resided in the country five or more years.

However, not all children born on Korean soil to permanent residents can naturalize with ease under the policy. Priority will be given to those children whose families have been in Korea for two or more generations and permanent residents who have “deep blood or cultural ties” to the country.

One of the main beneficiaries of the law will be ethnic Chinese who have resided in Korea for several decades but were barred from citizenship under the strict application of the jus sanguinis principle.

According to government estimates, about 3,900 individuals are currently eligible to acquire Korean nationality under the revised scheme. The Ministry of Justice believes that 600 to 700 additional people will be eligible every year.

“By giving children of permanent residents with deep ties to Korean society an opportunity to acquire nationality early, [the policy] will help foster their cultural identity and establish stability,” the Justice Ministry said. “It will also contribute to secure growth in the labor pool in the era of low birth rates and an aging population.”

Source: Korean citizenship may soon be more attainable for foreign children

COVID-19 scrutiny has stopped some women headed to Canada to give birth, documents allege

While the article is unbalanced, only citing Jamie Liew who dismisses the importance of the issue and the data (Jamie and I continue our debate at Policy Options and elsewhere), good to know that officials are identifying women suspected of misrepresenting their purpose of travel.

While the ATIP under question pertains only to Abu Dhabi, would be interesting to have comparable reports from other main source countries of birth tourists particularly China.

As to the question of the numbers, have written extensively on the strengths and weaknesses of the CIHI numbers (far from perfect but more realistic than the StatsCan/vital stats dramatic understating).

2020 numbers, likely available mid-summer, will provide a good indication of the practice given that visitor visas have declined 96 percent post-COVID, in contrast to other temporary residents where the decline has been much less (international students: 32 percent, IMP and TFWP down by 14 percent, April to November 2020 compared to the same period in 2019).

IRCC work on linking health and immigration data does not appear to have advanced much given COVID-19:

Greater scrutiny of travellers, prompted by COVID-19, has yielded new instances of women from other countries coming to Canada with what officials say is an unspoken plan to deliver their baby here, documents obtained by the Star show.

Some observers have repeatedly cautioned that the practice controversially dubbed “birth tourism” — which is legal — is being overblown and that focus on it has been driven as much by racism as real concern.

The federal government, meanwhile, has said it is studying the issue in an effort to understand the scope of what is happening.

An August 2020 report, obtained through an access-to-information request, offers a look at some of the information the government is getting. 

It was prepared by Canadian government staff in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It says that over a two-week period in June, airline staff, with support from Canada Border Services Agency liaison officers, “intercepted” prior-to-boarding 19 foreign nationals from the Middle East, who were all carrying temporary resident visas, because they were suspected of misrepresenting the purpose of travel.

The report suggests new restrictive citizenship measures in the United States, falling oil prices and economic vulnerability due to the pandemic could be driving more pregnant women from the region to seek to give birth in Canada.

All babies born in Canada receive automatic Canadian citizenship.

Language in the government document states: “While birth tourism is not illegal in Canada, it can undermine Canadians’ confidence in (the government’s) management of migration and citizenship programs.”

Observers, however, say the trend has been exaggerated and that critics are unfairly demonizing non-resident mothers. They note that, generally speaking, many of the foreign women giving birth in Canada are, in fact, not “birth tourists” but international students, migrant workers, foreign government personnel, those seeking to become permanent residents, as well as Canadians living abroad who have chosen to return to Canada to give birth.

“There isn’t enough contextualized data out there to know why people are giving birth in Canada as foreign residents,” said Jamie Liew, a law professor at the University of Ottawa.

“It’s not clear to me that it’s people just floating in and floating out.”

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, foreign nationals cannot be prevented from travelling to Canada to give birth. They can be, however, if they lie about the purpose of travel on their temporary resident visa application.

For its part, the Trudeau government says it is trying to understand the extent of the practice and is in the middle of collecting better data, including how many non-resident mothers are short-term visitors who come to Canada to give birth then leave. A spokesperson for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says the government’s analysis is expected sometime this year.

In some Canadian cities, unregulated for-profit businesses, including so-called “maternity hotels,” have emerged catering to non-resident expectant mothers.

In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, B.C. — whose main hospital has seen the highest number of non-resident births in Canada outside Quebec, according to the federal government — the city council last year passed a motion urging Ottawa to end birthright citizenship altogether. Most non-resident mothers at that hospital list a permanent address in China, provincial records say.

There is wide discrepancy in the existing national data. The Canadian Institute for Health Information says the number of non-resident births in Canada (outside Quebec) has steadily climbed from 3,600 in 2017-18 to 4,400 in 2019-20, representing about one per cent of the 380,000 births in Canada each year. Data from Statistics Canada has previously shown that the number is only in the hundreds.

The report obtained by the Star says “COVID-19 travel restrictions have brought to light a number of birth-tourism related temporary resident visa applicants within IRCC Abu Dhabi’s caseload, as the restrictions have led to closer scrutiny of the purpose of travel at the time of boarding.”

According to the report, the purpose of travel most commonly cited at the time the 19 applied for their visas was “tourism” or “family visit.”

Five of the 19 travellers were women who had previously given birth in Canada and were travelling to give birth in Canada a second time. They were travelling with family members or other companions.

“Some foreign nationals are using their relationship to their children previously born in Canada to attempt to justify entry to Canada to give birth a second time,” the report states. Others cited medical needs of their Canadian-born child.

Ultimately, 18 of the 19 were not allowed to board and their visas were referred back to immigration offices in Abu Dhabi or Riyadh for review. The one traveller who was permitted to board was refused entry in Canada but eventually allowed in due, in part, to possible risk to her pregnancy.

The 18 who were denied boarding were allowed to make their case in writing in response to “procedural fairness letters.” Some acknowledged they had given birth in Canada on a previous trip but noted they had also visited family or done tourism.

“If a traveller visited family and also gave birth, it is harder to reach a finding of misrepresentation as the declared purpose of travel is not false, but incomplete,” the report says.

It is unclear how many of the 18, if any, were eventually allowed to travel to Canada.

The report noted that since the start of the pandemic travel restrictions, the Canadian immigration office in Abu Dhabi had received 30 online requests from individuals seeking an exemption to travel to Canada to allow them to give birth as a “medical procedure or treatment.” The requests for travel were all denied.

“Few, if any, of the above cases would have come to IRCC’s attention in the absence of the COVID-19 travel restrictions,” the report contends. “The considerable number of cases over a short period raises questions regarding the frequency with which residents of the Gulf region are travelling to Canada for birth tourism under normal circumstances, and remaining under the radar. Indeed, the present numbers might be even higher were it not for limited flight availability and hesitation among expecting parents to board a 14-hour flight during a pandemic.”

The report notes that the decision by the U.S. in early 2020 to stop issuing temporary visitor visas to foreign nationals believed to be travelling to the U.S. to give birth, along with increasing economic uncertainty in the region and falling oil prices “will increase push factors for birth tourism to Canada.”

Asked if the pattern cited in the summer report was continuing, a CBSA spokesperson said the agency does not comment on trends or fluctuations.

An IRCC spokesperson said in an email a person is not inadmissible nor can they be denied a visa solely on the grounds that they are pregnant or that they may give birth in Canada.

However, providing false information is considered misrepresentation and has “immigration consequences.”

“While these statistics indicate that birth tourism is not widespread, the Government of Canada recognizes the need to better understand the extent of this practice,” the email said.

Liew, the law professor, said she worries the government could be prematurely concluding that cases represent birth tourism or that birth tourism is on the rise.

“There is very little data out there that indicates this is a growing problem,” she said. “I would say it seems like a very benign problem in my estimation.”

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/01/27/covid-19-scrutiny-has-stopped-more-women-headed-to-canada-to-give-birth-documents-allege.html

Canadian Citizenship: Practice and Policy – Library of Parliament Paper

Good and useful overview:

Canadian citizenship can be obtained through birth on Canadian soil, by descent through birth or adoption outside of Canada to a Canadian citizen, or through naturalization (the process by which citizenship is obtained by a foreign national). Requirements related to citizenship are laid out in the Citizenship Act, as well as in the Citizenship Regulations and Citizenship Regulations, No. 2.

Responsibility for implementing the Citizenship Act lies with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, who is supported by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) in managing the citizenship application process. The Citizenship Commission – an administrative body under IRCC that is made up of citizenship judges – also plays an important role, with duties including assessing citizenship applications to ensure they meet certain requirements under the Act and administering the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship.

To become a Canadian citizen through naturalization, an individual must first obtain permanent residency in Canada and then apply for citizenship after meeting residency and other requirements. Applicants between 18 and 54 years of age must also complete a written test based on the official citizenship study guide (Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship) and attend an interview to test their abilities in English or French and to discuss their application. Successful applicants attend a citizenship ceremony and take the Oath or Affirmation of Citizenship, through which they swear or affirm their allegiance to the Queen of Canada.

Loss of citizenship can occur if it is revoked (for example, due to citizenship being acquired or retained through false representation) or it can be renounced voluntarily (for example, if an individual chooses to become a citizen of a country that does not allow dual citizenship).

Several issues are currently at the forefront of discourse on citizenship policy. For example, census data show that the rate of citizenship among eligible immigrants declined between 2006 and 2016. The citizenship rate varies for different groups, with contributing factors including income level, education level and country of origin.

Another key issue is that of “lost Canadians,” which refers to individuals who were born before the 1977 Citizenship Act came into force and who should have been Canadian citizens under that Act but were deprived of Canadian citizenship because of outdated or obsolete provisions in the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947. Many of the problems associated with “lost Canadians” have been addressed through amendments made to the Citizenship Act since 1977. Those whose cases are not covered by legislative amendments may be granted citizenship on a case-by-case basis at the minister’s discretion.

Finally, the concept of birth tourism refers to the practice by foreign nationals of coming to Canada to give birth for the sole purpose of securing Canadian citizenship for their child. While data suggest an increase in non-resident births in the past decade, it is difficult to determine how many non-resident births are cases of birth tourism. The federal government has recognized the need to better understand the extent of this practice and has commissioned further research on this topic.

Source: https://hillnotes.ca/2020/12/07/executive-summary-canadian-citizenship-practice-and-policy/

Full report link: https://lop.parl.ca/sites/PublicWebsite/default/en_CA/ResearchPublications/202064E

6 charged in ‘birth tourism’ scheme that cost U.S. taxpayers millions

Medicaid fraud, not the service itself:

Six people were charged in an elaborate “birth tourism” scheme that helped Turkish women secure U.S. citizenship for their children and cost American taxpayers upward of $2 million, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

The alleged ringleaders, Sarah Kaplan and Ibrahim Aksakal, both residents of Long Island, New York, brazenly advertised their services on Turkish-language Facebook pages and websites with titles like “My baby should be born in America,” prosecutors said.

The defendants are accused of providing expectant mothers a full-service experience: lodging in New York, transportation, help applying for citizenship for their children, and purported “insurance” to cover all medical costs, which amounted to fraudulently-obtained Medicaid benefits.

The cost for these services: roughly $7,500, nearly all in cash, prosecutors said.

Between January 2017 and September this year, the suspects were paid approximately $750,000 in fees, and Medicaid disbursed more than $2.1 million in illicitly-obtained benefits, according to prosecutors.

“The defendants cashed in on the desire for birthright citizenship, and the American taxpayer ultimately got stuck with the $2.1 million bill,” Seth DuCharme, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Five of the defendants – Aksakal, Kaplan, Enes Burak Cakiroglu, Fiordalisa Marte and Edgar Rodriguez – were arrested Wednesday morning. They are all residents of Long Island, where they operated seven “birth houses,” prosecutors said.

The sixth suspect, who has yet to be taken into custody, was not identified.

Aksakal, Kaplan and Cakiroglu were charged with conspiring to commit visa fraud, health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering. Marte and Rodriguez were charged with conspiring to commit health care fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.

It was not immediately clear if they had hired lawyers.

Birth tourism has long brought expectant mothers to the U.S. The benefits are substantial: the child is given American citizenship, granting them a lifelong right to live and work and collect benefits in the U.S. And when they turn 21, they can sponsor their parents’ application for an American green card.

But the six defendants charged Wednesday submitted fraudulent New York state Medicaid benefits applications stating that the Turkish women were permanent New York residents who had no income and who resided in one of the “birth houses” maintained by the suspects, according to court papers.

The suspects submitted at least 99 Medicaid claims for different women, according to court papers. In all, the defendants facilitated the births of approximately 119 children, who now hold U.S. citizenship, prosecutors said.

Two of the defendants, Marte and Rodriguez, used their experience as assistors, people who are trained and certified to help individuals in New York state apply for health coverage, to facilitate the Medicaid part of the scheme, according to court papers.

The $750,000 brought in by the defendants was funneled to bank accounts in Turkey, thereby preventing the government from seizing it, according to court papers.

The defendants allegedly used their web pages to attract customers. A January 2018 post to the “My Baby Should be Born in America” Facebook page reads: “If you believe your baby should be born in the USA and become an American citizen then you are at the right place.”

The post also informed would-be customers that the defendants’ competitors’ fees were higher because of “misguided information that insurance will not cover expensive hospital and birth fees,” prosecutors said.

Source: 6 charged in ‘birth tourism’ scheme that cost U.S. taxpayers millions

Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright #citizenship | TheHill

Last gasps, supported by the usual groups. Executive orders can for the most part be easily undone by the Biden administration:

The Trump administration has revived discussions around taking executive action targeting birthright citizenship in its final weeks before leaving office, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

President Trump has spoken throughout his first term about ending birthright citizenship. Drafts of a possible order have been circulating for some time, and there is now internal discussion about finalizing it before the Biden administration takes over in January, sources said.

The administration is aware the order would be promptly challenged in court, but officials would hope to get a ruling on whether birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th Amendment, according to one source familiar with the plans. Many lawmakers and experts have argued it is protected, but the courts have not definitively ruled on the issue.

“Since taking office, President Trump has never shied away from using his lawful executive authority to advance bold policies and fulfill the promises he made to the American people, but I won’t speculate or comment on potential executive action,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.The Department of Justice has been consulted about a possible birthright citizenship order given it would deal with the legal implications of the new policy. A spokeswoman for the department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The birthright citizenship measure is being discussed as one of multiple executive actions the Trump administration could take on its way out the door. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told aides following Election Day to come up with possible policy priorities to push through in the two months before Inauguration Day.

Others in the works include additional reforms to the H-1B visa program, regulatory reforms and measures targeting China. The president earlier Friday announced two major actions aimed at lowering the price of prescription drugs.

The wave of action reflects how many in the White House are attempting to cement their agenda before the Biden administration takes over in January, even as Trump refuses to concede the race and has pursued thus far unsuccessful legal challenges in key battleground states.

The president first proposed ending the practice that grants citizenship to those born in the United States during his 2016 presidential campaign. He revived the idea in 2018 during an Axios interview, saying he would sign an executive order to enact the change.

Trump in August 2019 again said his administration was “very seriously” considering a measure to end birthright citizenship.

In each instance, lawmakers and legal experts have pushed back on the idea and cast doubt on Trump’s ability to unilaterally end birthright citizenship. They have asserted that birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th Amendment, which states, in part, that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

Some outside groups and allies of the administration have wondered why Trump has waited until his final weeks in office to follow through on a birthright citizenship order that he has talked about for years.

“The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was clearly intended to guarantee that emancipated slaves would properly be recognized as U.S. citizens,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “It is a fundamental misapplication of this clause that U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are granted automatic citizenship, much less the offspring of people who come here to simply give birth on American soil.”

“If the president finally issues a long-awaited executive order limiting birthright citizenship, it will be up to the Supreme Court to resolve this issue once and for all,” Hauman added.

Source: Trump administration revives talk of action on birthright citizenship | TheHill