Canada remains committed to accepting and welcoming refugees from all over the world. Beyond welcoming refugees on an ongoing basis, Canada also responds to conflicts around the world with immigration measures specifically designed to aid refugees from affected regions. In recent years, Canada has instituted temporary policies and special immigration measures for refugees from Afghanistan, Sudan, Ukraine, Turkey, and Syria. With the support of the Government, these immigration measures have allowed people in need from around the globe to escape from crisis and find refuge in Canada.

Israel and Hamas Conflict

On October 7, 2023, conflict between Israel and Hamas, the governing body of the Gaza Strip, broke out again. On this date, Hamas invaded Israel and, in response, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip. A humanitarian crisis has followed after the outbreak of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, with many civilians in both Israel and Gaza being displaced as a result of the intense fighting, which has continued into early 2024.

Canada’s Immigration Response to the Israel and Hamas Conflict

Since the conflict began on October 7, 2023, the Government of Canada has worked to help Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their eligible family members flee from Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank.

On December 21, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that special immigration measures were being implemented to support family members of Canadian Citizens and permanent residents from Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, as well as Israeli and Palestinian nationals who are already in Canada. As of December 21, 2023, foreign national family members of Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents who have left Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, as well as Israelis and Palestinians already living in Canada, have been able to apply for fee-exempt study permits and open work permits.

Fee-Exempt Study Permits

In order for foreign nationals to study in Canada, they require a study permit. In most cases, foreign nationals are required to pay an application fee of $150 dollars when applying for a study permit. However, individuals included as part of the December 2023 initiative will not be required to pay this fee, and instead, their study permit application will be fee-exempt. However, the typical requirements for a study permit application, including having proof of acceptance into a designated Canadian learning institution along with proof that the applicant is able to pay for tuition and other living expenses, must still be met.

Open Work Permits

Open work permits are work permits that are not tied to a specific employer or job. Rather, the holder of an open work permit can be legally employed throughout Canada for the duration of the work permit. Open work permits allow for more flexibility for the holder given that the holder is not bound by their permit to work for one employer.

January 2024 Announcement of New Temporary Resident Pathway

On January 9, 2024, the Canadian Minister of Immigration Marc Miller announced that a new temporary resident pathway (the “pathway”) for extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Gaza has been opened. This pathway is intended to provide support for Palestinians who have family members living in Canada that are willing and able to support them for a period of one year. Eligible family members under the pathway include spouses, common-law partners, children, grandchildren, siblings, parents or grandparents of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, as well as their immediate family members. The new temporary resident pathway for Palestinians will allow individuals access to open work permits and fee-exempt study permits from the December 21, 2023 announcement.

Additional Supports Included in Temporary Resident Pathway

Those who are accepted as temporary residents will also be given three months of health coverage as part of the Interim Federal Health Program to address any urgent medical needs they have when they arrive in Canada. There will also be settlement support services available to those who arrive as temporary residents in Canada. These services will also include language training, support with finding employment, and support with connecting within the local community that the people settle in. The temporary resident visas are valid for up to three years, or until the end of the holder’s passport validity, whichever date comes first.

Canada has also acknowledged that it may be difficult for people to leave Gaza at this point for a multitude of reasons. Applicants who are able to leave Gaza, and are eligible to apply under the temporary resident pathway must meet the other general conditions of the pathway and must be otherwise admissible to Canada. This includes the biometrics requirement, which must be completed before approval to enter Canada will be issued.

Cap on Admissions for Temporary Residents from Gaza

Prospective applications should be aware that the number of temporary residents allowed to enter Canada under the new pathway is not unlimited. Applications will be open until January 9, 2025, or until 1,000 temporary resident visa applications have been received and accepted for processing, whichever condition is met first. The cap on the number of people who can come to Canada under this program is in place as the Government has described the situation in Gaza as volatile and acknowledges that many people may experience difficulty when attempting to leave.

The cap on the program has caused some backlash against the Canadian Government, as it was pointed out that after the conflict between Ukraine and Russia began, a similar program was instituted for Ukrainians which was accompanied by a much larger cap of 200,000 applicants. However, if the cap is approaching capacity, or the cap is reached, it is possible that the cap may be increased or the program could be expanded based on comments made by Immigration Minister Marc Miller. Minister Miller indicated that Canada wants to get a sense of what the volume could be and will then consider expanding the program from there.

Contact Garson Immigration Law for Canadian Immigration Assistance

The skilled lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law and we regularly advise clients on various immigration matters. We pride ourselves on developing robust and tailored legal solutions to the most challenging immigration situations for both businesses and individual clients. Our immigration law team assists clients with a wide variety of immigration matters, including permanent residencecitizenshipwork and study permits. To schedule a confidential consultation and learn how we can assist you, please call our office as 416-321-2860 or reach out to us online.

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