Children of former Russian spies are fighting for their right to live in Canada

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Canadian citizens on the basis of birth were revoked of their rights visiting “the sins of their parents”

The Canadian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration appealed to the Supreme Court in order not to let two men born to Russian secret agents in Canada reside in the country.

The Canadian Press is following the case Minister of Citizenship and Immigration v. Alexander Vavilov which is expected to be heard in the Supreme Court on December 4, 2018. According to the news agency, Alexander Vavilov, 24, together with his brother Timothy, 28, whose case proceeded separately through the courts, were born in Canada to parents who were Soviet/Russian deep-cover spies. Donald Heathfield and Tracey Ann Foley, in reality, Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, were arrested, along with eight other agents, in the United States, where the family had lived for 15 years, on June 27, 2010. Ten Russians were used in the spy swap between the United States and Russia on July 9, 2010. Alexander and Timothy, who were 16 and 21 then respectively, as reported by The Guardian, were left with no funds in the U.S.A. and were recommended to go to Russia where they were granted citizenship in December 2010. At the same time, their U.S. citizenship was revoked.

According to Appellant’s Factum on Appeal submitted to the Canadian Supreme Court, Alexander Vavilov made two unsuccessful attempts to obtain a new Canadian passport in 2010 – 2011. In 2012, he got a Canadian visa which was later canceled “as a result of security, identity, and citizenship concerns regarding him and his family.” Canadian officials requested that he amend his birth certificate, changing his last name from Foley to Vavilov to obtain a Canadian passport. In January 2013, using this amended document, Alexander Vavilov applied for and obtained a Certificate of Canadian Citizenship. As stated in the court summary, on August 15, 2014, the Registrar of Citizenship informed Alexander Vavilov that the Canadian government no longer recognized him as a Canadian citizen on the basis of his ineligibility applicable to any child born in Canada to a foreign diplomat. Alexander Vavilov sought judicial review in the Federal Court which upheld the decision. On June 21, 2017, the Federal Court of Appeal, in turn, allowed the appeal and quashed the Registrar’s decision to cancel Vavilov’s certificate, interpreting his stated ineligibility as only applicable to children of foreign government employees who benefitted from diplomatic immunities and privileges, which was not the case for Vavilov. As reported by the Canadian Press, on the strength of this ruling, Alexander has since been able to renew his Canadian passport and he hopes to live and work in Canada — calling his relationship with the country a cornerstone of his identity. Meanwhile, Canada’s Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration intends to take this case to the Supreme Court to deprive him again and for the final time of his Canadian passport and citizenship.

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