The pandemic has impacted all international travel, including those arriving in Canada as Refugees. Below, we will provide an update on the factors affecting those arriving Canada during the pandemic. In addition, the Minister of Immigration has announced a family reunification policy for those fleeing mistreatment by Daesh, otherwise knows as ISIS, discussed in more detail below.

COVID-Related Considerations for Refugees Arriving in Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all travel in and out of and within Canada. It has also impacted travel for all groups of would-be travellers, including Refugees. The Canadian federal government has warned that the ability to resettle Refugees has been restricted due to COVID-19 prevention measures in Canada and around the world.

Currently, Refugees are required to attend a Canadian Orientation Abroad session with the International Organization for Migration (“IOM”) before they depart for Canada. The purpose of the session is to provide Refugees with information to monitor and prevent the spread of COVID-19 before, during and after arrival. During the session, Refugees are told about the 14-day quarantine requirement upon arrival in Canada and are given information about the support they can receive from the Resettlement Assistance Program.

Further, Refugees are to undergo a fitness-to-fly check for COVID-19 signs and symptoms with an IOM nurse or doctor. Additionally, they are expected to comply with all of the other regulations for travellers coming into Canada. This includes the mandatory hotel stay for those arriving in Canada by air. However, the accommodation and transportation will be arranged by a government-funded resettlement service provider.

The pre-flight regulations may be difficult for Refugees to adhere to as people fleeing from persecution may not have the time or resources to follow these regulations, such as obtaining a negative COVID test within 72 hours of boarding their flight.

For Refugees entering Canada, keep in mind that at this time if you are entering Canada from the United States, you will be temporarily required to remain in the United States. This regulation applies to entrance through official ports of entry by land, air and sea. Further, as of right now, according to the Canadian Government website the Safe Third Country Agreement remains in effect. This means that Refugee claimants are required to request protection in the first safe country they arrive in unless they qualify for an exception to the Agreement. The Agreement is currently being challenged in the court system, so keep an eye out for updates.

Announcement by the Government of Canada on victims of Daesh

For a few years now the Government of Canada has been accepting Refugees and other survivors of Daesh (commonly known as ISIS) from the Middle East into Canada. Survivors of ISIS include Iraqis and Yazidis (a minority group within Iraq) who have been the victims of threats or acts that include sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, inhumane or degrading treatment, family separation, forced displacement, or forcible transfer causing serious bodily or mental harm.

Since 2017, over 1,400 Refugees fleeing the terrorist organization have settled in Canada to start a new life. Last week, Minister of Immigration Marco Mendicino announced a new policy to help more Yazidis and other survivors of Daesh reunite with their families in Canada. Speaking about the new policy, the Minister said:

“Having survived abuse, torture and even genocide at the hands of Daesh, the Yazidis and other groups are among the most vulnerable refugees in the world. That’s why Canada resettled over 1,400 survivors of Daesh. Guided by compassion, we are now redoubling our efforts to reunite their families. Our new policy will ensure that more Yazidis and other survivors can be reunited with loved ones so that they can start new lives in Canada.”

The new policy should help reunited extended family members, including siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, along with those who may have been previously unable to apply for resettlement. This new policy represents a reversal in policy, as the Canadian Government had previously ended the policy to help family members come to Canada in 2020. The Refugees may be privately sponsored or referred to Canada for resettlement by the United Nations Refugee Agency. The majority of the people under this program have been settled in Toronto, London, Winnipeg, and Calgary.

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Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We are experts in successfully guiding clients through the immigration process. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application. 

The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about your potential classification as essential or about how you should comply with the changing regulations, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.

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