CALGARY – Angie Kopchuk has lived in Canada nearly all her life, so she was extremely surprised when a passport officer said her Canadian birth certificate wasn’t recognized.
“My military-issued birth certificate had become discontinued, so it was not usable as identification for a passport here in Canada. There was no real explanation given–only that I had to file to get proof of citizenship.”
Kopchuk was born in Germany in 1972 while her father was stationed with the Canadian military.
She has a Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) birth certificate, but in the late 1970s, the government stopped recognizing it as proof of citizenship.
“I would imagine there are many other people who are in the exact same situation as this woman,” said immigration lawyer Abdul Souraya.
Souraya said even though it is a Canadian government document, it only proves how old you are, and not that you are a Canadian citizen.
“Hence she has to go through the proof of citizenship process, which could take five to six months at extra cost and inconvenience waiting for that to happen.”
Kopchuk applied for that citizenship certificate in May, and by October she still hadn’t received anything. She became worried there wouldn’t be enough time to get a passport for a trip to Mexico in early November.
Global News contacted Canada’s Immigration and Citizenship department Oct. 9, and Kopchuk received word the paperwork was in the mail five days later.
Souraya said more should be done to notify people in this type of situation, and to speed up the process.
“As we have an expedited passport process, I think it would be helpful to have an expedited proof of citizenship process for exactly this category of people.”
Kopchuk was able to apply for a passport, but had to pay extra to have it sent to her before her trip. She feels it isn’t fair.
“Being in Canada as long as I’ve been here, I don’t think it should have taken this long and this much stress.”
For more information on the rules around citizenship and birth certificates for passport applications, visit the government website here.