Tag Archives: citizenship

You’re Japanese? My Daughter’s Future

We’re picking up my daughter’s first passport this week. It’s a Japanese passport. She has a Japanese first name, an English last name, and a face that shows mixed heritage, but brown hair. I’m sure she’ll get some second looks at the airport.

In Canada, she may get some curious looks when they see her passport, but otherwise, she’ll be fine. Canada is a multicultural country where Asians make up the largest minority groups. No one will think she’s not Canadian. She’ll be completely accepted. When she starts school, her mixed language of Japanese and English may raise some questions, but as she does understand English, she’ll quickly adapt. She has Canadian and Japanese citizenship, and dual citizenship isn’t uncommon in Canada. It’s Japan where she will encounter some issues.

I read an article on the Japan Times website by Debito Arudou, who is a naturalised citizen of Japan. He’s had issues with immigration and customs when they look at his Japanese passport and Caucasian face and has even missed connecting flights because they didn’t believe him. But what about my daughter? She’ll be able to use both Japanese and Canadian passports when we travel up until she’s twenty years old. In Japan, you cannot be a dual citizen after turning twenty. Will she be scrutinised?

In Japan, mixed kids are called haafu, or “half.”  Half what? There are many people in Japan who think of them as incomplete Japanese. They are not fully Japanese, merely half Japanese. Even if they’re born and raised in Japan, speak Japanese as a first language, and have Japanese citizenship, they’re still considered foreigners or at least not worthy of being called Japanese. They’re often stared at, thought of as novelties, and lots of people will ask if they can touch their hair, or say that their Japanese is very good. Of course their Japanese is good, it’s their native language!

Although my daughter hasn’t encountered this kind of thing yet, it’s quite likely it’ll happen in other parts of Japan. Kanagawa is one of the most multicultural areas in Japan, as it has three American military bases and lots of foreign residents, including Chinese, Filipino, Brazilian, and Indian. It also attracts a lot of tourists. But my issue is that she’ll always be considered only half Japanese, despite the fact that she is 100% Japanese citizen. There is no half about that. She’s totally Japanese by birth, language, and citizenship. She’s also 100% Canadian. But because of the European part of her ancestry, people won’t think of her as Japanese at all.

Well, she is Japanese. She is Canadian. She is both.

Citizenship Certificate Application (aka What’s Killing My Writing)

Today, my family’s continued adventure into the world of immigration lead us back to the Embassy of Canada.  It was a frustrating day with a few bumps.  It started out with me ready to go to the embassy with my daughter, but I did some double-checking.  That’s what brought about my first bump.  It said I needed an affidavit signed by the translator of any Japanese documents in front of a Commissioner of Oaths.  Panic time.  I thought I’d have to wait until next week.  I sent an email to the embassy, and they responded quickly.  That wasn’t required.  No affidavit.  Whew!

So, why is no affidavit needed?  Japan doesn’t have a system for certifying documents or doing oaths like that.  So, all I need to do is make sure the translation is done neatly, accurately, and typed.  Okay, that was fine.  So, we rushed out to the embassy.  I knew we’d have time to get there.  And we got there just in time, 15 minutes before the Consular Section is supposed to close.  I gave all of the documents and translations to the embassy staff.  What we had translated for my daughter’s citizenship certificate is the family registry, her birth registration, and her national health insurance card.  Next bump coming up.  They asked me if I had an original of the birth registration, because it looked like I only had a copy.  Well, I was certain that was the only copy we had. More on that later.  Next bump.  I forgot my daughter’s photos!  Damn it!  Well, they said it was fine, just mail it to them.  So, that was that.

I was done at the embassy, except for a trip to the bathroom.  You see, my daughter poured her water all over herself.  It made her look like she wet herself.  But it was just water.  I couldn’t do anything about it until we got home.

When we got home, I asked my wife about the birth registration.  What I gave the embassy was the copy that was made for us by the city.  In fact, it had never been made before.  This was THE original, first ever copy.  In Canada, we’re given a birth certificate after we’re born.  In Japan, the important document is the family registry.  When a child is born, they join the family registry, rather than have a birth certificate issued.  Therefore, the family registry is the big official document.  The birth registration document had to be typed, then given to us, so it took them some time to prepare it.

We’ve sent the photos and a letter explaining that this was the original birth registration document.  They should have her citizenship certificate application sent out next week.  Unfortunately, it’ll take up to a year for us to receive it. This creates a little problem with my wife’s visa application.  We’re supposed to include it in her application, but now we can’t.  We’ll have to explain to Immigration that it’s being processed.

I think one of the more frustrating things is that the embassy’s website isn’t very clear on a few things.  What the embassy staff says, what the website says, and what the forms say are often different.  It’s hard to know what exactly we’re supposed to do. Anyway, the only thing left we have to do is the visa application.  But that’s a lot of pages.

I’d planned to have a video done, but YouTube’s taking its time processing the videos.  I’ll put it up in another post when it’s ready.

Bumps in the Road to Canada

320px-Flag_of_Canada.svgInevitably, we’re going to have problems with our paperwork.  But we can’t afford problems.  We need them to be perfect.

To begin with, I’ll just update you on what we’ve done so far.  We got our pictures taken!  Mine had to be 5cm x 7 cm, but photo studios don’t do that in Japan, so the embassy said 5 x 5 was okay.  So, I have 2 of them done for my passport renewal.  My wife had 15 done, all 3.5cm x 4.5cm.  9 for her visa application, 5 for her medical exam, and 1 for her passport renewal.  And then my daughter had 2 done, both were 3.5cm x 4.5cm.  Those were for her citizenship certificate application.  And boy was it fun trying to get her to sit still for her picture.  She’s not patient for that kind of thing yet.

Now, for the problem.  As I was reading through the required documents for applying for a family class visa, I noticed one section said that if the applicant has any children who are Canadian citizens (like my daughter is), they require a copy of her citizenship certificate or birth certificate.  Crap.  We’re applying for that next week.  It takes about 9 months for us to get it.  Double crap.  We need it in 3 months.  So, I guess that means we apply for the certificate as an urgent case.  If not, our move to Canada will be delayed by several months, and our daughter can’t start Kindergarten in Canada.

Well, we’ll apply for my passport renewal and my daughter’s citizenship certificate on Thursday at the embassy in Tokyo.  If everything goes well, they’ll say okay to the urgency of our situation.  Wish us luck!

My Future Relationship with Citizenship and Immigration Canada

320px-Flag_of_Canada.svg

Over the next year and a half, my family will be dealing with Citizenship and Immigration Canada quite a bit.  We’ll become frequent acquaintances, if not good friends.

No, I couldn’t say friends.  I personally don’t like dealing with government agencies.  In the past, they’ve been rude and arrogant towards me.  When I originally applied for my passport in 2004, they were snippy and had an I’m-better-than-you attitude regarding my questions on the application.  I didn’t appreciate that.  In 2007, they sent me a letter asking why I hadn’t filed my taxes for 2006.  I called them to tell them I didn’t live in Canada and they thankfully told me I was correct, I could disregard the letter.  They actually said it had been sent to many people by mistake.

But it hasn’t all been negative.  Five years ago, I renewed my passport, and the staff at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo were very polite and did a wonderful job.

My friendship is about to be renewed with the Embassy and the entire CIC.  Today, I’m getting my picture taken.  Why?  I’m renewing my passport again next week.  I’ll be going to the Embassy to submit the form (short form, yay!) and pay the fees.  I could do it by mail, but I’m paying in Japanese yen, so I have to do it in person.  But this isn’t the end of it.

Next month (maybe), we’ll be going back to the Embassy with a lot of documents, some translated, to get my daughter’s proof of citizenship, her citizenship certificate.  According to CIC, she is considered a Canadian citizen now because I’m Canadian, but she has no certificates to show that.  So that’s what we’ll be doing.  According to the website, it takes 12-14 months to process the application for a child living overseas.  After that, we’ll apply for her Canadian passport, which takes a whopping 20 days.

Also very soon, we’ll be getting my wife’s family class visa application going.  This involves far more paperwork, and probably the biggest headache.  My passport is the easiest, my daughter’s citizenship is lengthy, but not difficult to fill out the form.  But my wife’s visa application and my sponsorship application are very involved with lots of writing.  Not fun.  I hate paperwork.  And there’s no guarantee it’ll be successful.

I’m going to be chronicling this adventure into the land of CIC on video, as well as on this blog.  I hope it’ll be informative for anyone who is trying to do the same.

Anyone have experience with this?