Notice – Protecting children in Haiti

February 2, 2010 — If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) strongly advises you not to travel to Haiti or the Dominican Republic to try to bring children back to Canada without proper legal authority. This applies even if a child is related to you.

The Government of Canada is taking steps to make sure that the best interests of children are safeguarded. We are working with international organizations like UNICEF to ensure children are protected.

If you go to the Embassy of Canada in Port-au-Prince or Santo Domingo with a child seeking a visa in order to bring that child to Canada, you may be refused. CIC will not facilitate the travel to Canada of minor children unless all legal requirements have been met.

In the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, children are vulnerable. There have already been reports that children are being abducted and/or sold in Haiti. People have also tried to obtain Canadian visas for minor children by using fraudulent documents.

First priority must be to reunite displaced children with family members in Haiti, if possible. The majority of children in Haiti were not orphaned after the earthquake, but temporarily separated from their families. It often takes time to verify that a child does not have a parent or close relative who is alive and able to take care of them after a disaster.

In cases where it has been confirmed by the Haitian government that a child has become orphaned, Canadian relatives may proceed to submit a family class sponsorship application. In the cases where it has been confirmed by the Haitian government that a child is adoptable, please refer to the appropriate provincial or territorial authority to see if new adoption applications for Haiti are being accepted at this time.

Family class sponsorship

Priority processing is being given to sponsorship applications for members of the family class who are directly and significantly affected by the earthquake in Haiti. In the case of orphaned family members (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews or grandchildren under the age of 18), providing proof of the relationship and confirmation that the child is an orphan may take some time.  

Learn more about sponsorship.

International adoption

CIC’s priority is to expedite adoptions that were in process before the earthquake. The processing of any new adoption applications will depend on when the Government of Haiti re-establishes adoption procedures.

It is international policy and practice to try to find homes for children who have been orphaned in their own country before placing them in a foreign country.

International adoption is complex, and CIC must make sure the best interests of children are protected. All international adoptions must follow their province or territory’s regulations and abide by the laws of the child’s country of origin – in this case, Haiti.

Learn more about international adoption.

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