This article is two years overdue and I apologize for waiting this long to share. I always had one excuse or the other, waiting for the perfect time. But like they always say, the perfect time to do anything is now!
Canada is the new cool and everyone in Nigeria seems to be on an exodus to Canada. My daughter and I spent our summer holiday there and immediately I put my location in one of my stories I got comments such as “you are leaving us too” “did you move to Canada as well” “everyone seems to be moving to Canada”! The last comment is so true, everyone IS moving to Canada.
I’ll share article on moving to Canada on the website soon. It will be insights from a couple of friends who have done it (hopefully it doesn’t take me an additional year), but this article is for people not moving permanently but considering having their babies in Canada.
WHY HAVE YOUR BABY IN CANADA?
Having your baby abroad (aka birth tourism) is getting increasingly popular among Nigerian families and these days it’s almost a necessity. I remember my first hospital visit with my doctor in Nigeria and the first question he asked “what state in the US are you having your baby”. The question wasn’t “are you having your baby in the US”. This made me wonder if anyone has their babies in Nigeria anymore? I let him know the US wasn’t an option for me due to some reasons.
Canada was where I was going to have her. Surprised? Yes, he was. He rarely got patients seeking to have their babies in Canada. Canada was the only option for me for a couple of reasons:
- My brother lives there with his family which means I have a place to stay, food to eat and people to take me to the hospital. There’s nothing like having an amazing support system when you are on your baby abroad journey. It can get very difficult and lonely.
- Canada offers more benefits for its citizens (immigration policies are better, free health care + college education is cheaper).
- Canada is cheaper to have your baby (…sometimes, this really depends on the state in the US you’ll be having your baby). I had four other friends on this baby abroad journey around the same time as me. Three having their babies in the US and one relocating to Canada (which meant she’ll have her baby there too). One out of the three planned to have hers in Canada but her visa application took a while, she had to withdraw her passport and go to the US instead. We all traded stories and everyone sort of agreed that Canada is definitely a better in the long run.
RESEARCHING AND SEARCHING
Before you decide on where to have your baby, the US vs Canada, the first thing you need to do is research. Even though I knew I was having my baby in Canada, I researched for weeks on ending. Best hospitals in the area my brother lives, hospital fees to allow adequate planning, how to apply for my visa, when to apply for my visa and so on. Canada is also really huge (2nd largest country in the world) and it has 10 provinces. The provinces are independent of the center and different provinces offer different benefits. Ontario is where most people have their babies but who knows, Quebec or Nova Scotia might be better for you. Here are a few resources to help
with your research:
- Use Nairaland as your go to resource. For the first time in my life I sat in the Nairaland website for days, reading through comments on the “giving birth in Canada” thread. It was like my baby abroad bible. Even if you are having a baby in the US, Nairaland is the place to find all the information you need! Warning, the thread is currently at its 77th page and has almost 300,000 views! That’s how awesome it is.
- I also used the official Canadian immigration website which also has tons of useful information on the procedure for application of baby’s passport.
- RateMDs is a great place to find a doctor! It’s kinda like TripAdvisor for doctors. Doctors put in their profiles and their patients review and rate their experiences with them. My first doctor wasn’t the best and I had to change him. I found my doctor via this amazing website.
APPLY FOR YOUR VISA EARLY
When I say early I mean EARLY! I was scheduled to leave Nigeria in March and by January I already had my Canadian visa. If you are familiar with the Canadian visa application, you’ll know average processing times range from 30-60 days. I put in my application in November of the previous year. So yup…super early. Canadian visa applications is not like the US where you book an appointment, get a date and go for an interview. It takes time. There is no physical interview; you have to submit your application in person or online. If in person your passport can be at the Visa Application Center for 30-60 days so cancel all your travel plans for that period.
Online applications are usually better, you get to keep your passport with you up until it’s required for the visa which usually takes 5-10 working days. So for example, if your due date is in September, begin your application in March.
Current cost for Canadian visa: 100 Canadian dollars + 85 Canadian dollars for Visa Application Center (VAC) fees
FILL YOUR APPLICATION FORM CAREFULLY
Like I already stated, applications aren’t done physically so you need a stronger case. You can state in your application that your purpose of visit is tourism or visiting friends/family. There is no option for “birth tourism”.
For your case to be airtight, don’t forget to get your letter of employment (of currently employed), your contact of employment, pay slips, title documents (if you have any landed property), CAC certificate (if you have any company). All these prove that you have strong ties to your country and you’ll return when due. If you have any friends or family residing in Canada, have them send you a letter of invitation + attaching documents proving their current status in Canada. This proves that you have strong ties in Canada. Because of the way the Canadian health care system works, you might not be able to get a doctor’s appointment to attach to your application (I’ll explain this in detail).
If you want to inform the embassy prior to leaving for Canada this can be done in two ways.
- Attach a letter of intent to your application: state it clearly that you intend to have your baby and you have funds enough for your trip (evident in your bank statement). You should also state the province and city you intend to have your baby and hospital and doctor you have contacted (if any)
- Send an email to the embassy after your visa has been granted: if you stated your purpose of visit is seeing friends and family you can send an email to the embassy letting them know you will be having your baby in Canada while there. This email will most likely be ignored but print out any correspondence which you’ll use at the point of entry (if asked).
PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP
Once your application has been approved and visa granted, it’s time to prepare for your trip. At the point of entry, they did not ask me any question regarding being pregnant. I had a really tiny belly. Another plus for me was also because I had visited the country a couple of times. The immigration officer only asked where I was going and let me in. I must state that if you are asked if you are pregnant please do not lie.
Having a baby in Canada is by no way illegal. Let them know you are having your baby in their country, have some sort of correspondence with a family doctor in Canada (printed out) and let them know you’ll be paying all your medical bills. Have cash with you cos this might be counted, be confident! I’m aware that in the case of the US, you can pay for your hospital and Gyne bill from Nigeria. Canadian doctors will most likely not accept any payments until you are physically in the country. Most of them don’t even accept cash payments, you need to have their health insurance.
Having babies abroad can get super complicated and there’s so much information to be digested! I decided to split the story into two parts and the concluding part will be up in another post.
Questions about having your baby in Canada? Leave us a comment and we will be sure to respond!