Part of Canada’s rich immigration history includes embracing an ongoing and active role in helping refugees worldwide. Canada is one of the international leaders in the development of refugee law and asylum claims. However, the manner in which refugees can come to Canada has changed significantly over the years.
Recently, Canada instituted the private sponsorship of refugees, which allows groups of Canadian citizens to help refugees come to Canada. Refugees can also apply directly to the Canadian Government at a port of entry.
When international humanitarian crises occur, the Canadian Government often develops special programs through which refugees, who are victims of the crisis, can come to Canada to be resettled as permanent residents. To date, the Government of Canada has continued to take an active role in responding to international humanitarian crises.
Shortly after the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan in August 2021, Canada created a public action plan to resettle at least 20,000 Afghan refugees in Canada. Shortly after the plan was created, the cap was increased to 40,000 Afghans who could be welcomed as refugees.
Refugees who have been welcomed to Canada under this plan have been supported by both the government and private sponsorship. Since August 2021, Canada continues to update policy regulating which individuals are eligible to come to Canada from Afghanistan. Currently, there is a new temporary public policy which allows extended family members of language and cultural advisors to come to Canada.
Overall, 29,010 Afghan refugees have been settled in Canada, and the Canadian Government anticipates many more individuals will be settled in the coming years.
When the conflict between Russia and Ukraine began in February 2022, Canada quickly responded to the burgeoning refugee and humanitarian crisis. The Government of Canada created the Canada Ukraine authorization for emergency travel to assist Ukrainians displaced by the war to come to Canada through visitor visas quickly. Canada also developed additional permanent settlement options.
For Ukrainians seeking to come to Canada, many newcomer services are available to provide necessary assistance. Additionally, the government has waived the application fee for individuals from the Ukraine and has allocated priority processing of emergency travel applications.
The initiatives which have been implemented for Ukraine and Afghanistan highlight Canada’s commitment to helping those in need. Now, in the wake of another crisis, Canada has responded again.
Canada has created a public policy in response to the humanitarian crisis in Turkey and Syria. Recently, Turkey and Syria suffered from a devastating earthquake that unfortunately killed tens of thousands of people and destroyed large amounts of infrastructure in the two countries.
The humanitarian crisis arose from this situation and Canada has since announced support for Turkish and Syrian individuals by providing $50 million in relief support funds.
Going one step further, Canada has developed a temporary public policy through which Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is processing temporary and permanent residence applications from those from Turkey and Syria on a priority basis. This includes applications for refugee resettlement.
The priority processing is particularly pertinent as Canada has a substantial backlog of applications to be processed. However, allocating priority processing to applications from Syrian and Turkish people will help ensure that they are able to arrive in Canada as quickly as possible. This priority allocation includes visa applications for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
The temporary policy came into effect on March 29, 2023 and is set to end on September 25, 2023, barring any extensions.
Under the policy, Turkish and Syrian nationals can continue to study, work or visit family by applying for an extension of their status. Applications for extension of status will have their fees waived during the period of the public policy. The Canadian Government indicates that this policy will make it easier for Turkish and Syrian nationals to stay in Canada, and even more between temporary residence streams.
Further, Canada recognizes that the earthquake resulted in substantial damage and loss of personal belongings, such as passports. Therefore, Canada is waiving the requirement for residents of those countries to have a passport or travel document in order to be approved for a permanent resident visa to come to Canada.
For Canadian citizens and permanent residents who may be in Turkey or Syria right now, Canada is also easing the requirements for those returning to Canada. There will be no fees for temporary passports, limited-validity passports, emergency travel documents, or Canadian citizenship certificates and permanent resident travel documents for those currently in Turkey and Syria.
The Canadian Government estimates that there are around 16,000 applications currently in progress from individuals in Turkey and Syria. Of these, approximately 1,700 people from the two countries are from areas directly impacted by the earthquakes and it is anticipated that these numbers will continue to grow.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has also said that additional information regarding applications under this program will be provided in the coming weeks. Therefore, if you or a loved one are seeking to come to Canada from Turkey or Syria, be sure to check for updates regarding eligibility and applications.
The experienced immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are dedicated to the practice of immigration law. Our firm helps demystify the complexities around immigration and works with clients to help ensure a smooth application process.
Our lawyers actively work to create customized and effective solutions to meet all your immigration needs. If you have any questions about immigration to Canada, please do not hesitate to reach out to us online or call our office at 416-321-2860 to learn how we can assist you.
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