Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Posts Tagged ‘citizenship

Be careful where you give birth!

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This article is not a concern for me or my family personally.  We are not going to have any more children and all the children we do have, have citizenship of one country or another.  Interestingly, my daughter is entitled to New Zealand citizenship by descent, but not my son – New Zealand’s laws changed between their births!

I wasn’t quite sure whether to put this entry here or on my other site – it really is a bit of both.  While my personal site concentrates on my own personal visa battle, I have commented several times that we need to change the way we handle the question of immigration, partner visas in particular because that is currently the area I know most about, although I know a reasonable amount about protection visas as well!

The article linked to above caught my eye because in the cases discussed we are not talking specifically about people marrying across borders (although indirectly we are) or refugees: we are talking about quite simply happy couples having much loved children.  Children, who because of different laws in different countries around the world, end up stateless.

…Mark Manly, head of the statelessness unit at the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that gaps between national citizenship laws have put high-flying professionals around the globe in the same boat as migrants and refugees when it comes to getting passports for their kids.

“Far more people live outside their country of nationality than before, and there are more children born to parents of different countries,” he said. “We have a lot of situations where the children are not acquiring any nationality at all.”

One child in the article has a Chinese mother, Canadian father, was born in Belgium and after considerable stress for the parents, has now been granted Irish citizenship based on his grandfather’s nationality.  The father is quoted in the article, “When people think of refugees and stateless people they don’t think of Western, educated professionals with an office job.”

There is an international covenant that covers this sort of problem, the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, however it only has 37 signatory countries.  We have a long way to go.

This article supports what I have said before: the world is now a much more mobile place.  The various countries need to deal with this appropriately.

The article doesn’t address Australia specifically, but a quick look at the DIAC web site shows that clearly it could be a problem for foreigners residing here too, if they happen to come from a country where it is difficult or impossible to obtain citizenship by descent for their children.

Australian citizen by birth

Whether you are an Australian citizen by birth depends on the date of your birth.

Most children born in Australia before 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth unless one parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges or was a consular officer of another country.

Children born after that date are only Australian citizens if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth.

Children born in Australia to parents who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, automatically acquire Australian citizenship on their 10th birthday if they have lived most of their life in Australia.

Australia is having an each way bet – let’s hope if you give birth to a stateless child in Australia, you don’t want to travel for the first 10 years of that child’s life!  I need to cross-check the requirements of the Hague Convention, as I am sure it mentions statelessness too.  So many conventions, so little time!

What about if you go overseas and have a child?  Well, the waters get a bit mukier:

Child born overseas to an Australian citizen

Commonly, if you were born overseas after 26 January 1949 to an Australian citizen parent, you may be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by descent.

If your parent became an Australian citizen by descent, he or she must have been present in Australia for periods totalling two years at some time in their life.

If you were born outside Australia or New Guinea before 26 January 1949 you may also be eligible for Australian citizenship by descent if at least one of your parents became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949.

Good grief – do they literally mean ON 26 January 1949 and no other date?  Amazing.  What does “may be eligible” actually mean?

So it seems that while Australians are not specifically mentioned in The Age article, yes, there could be difficulties. 

I dare not venture into the topic of Australian Citizenship by adoption, I have a feeling that would be way too complicated for today!

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Written by Robyn Dunphy

November 28, 2010 at 8:47 am