Canada may fast-track applications for people displaced by earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, says Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.
Major earthquakes in southwestern Turkey destroyed thousands of buildings in the country, and across the border with Syria.
The United Nations has estimated the death toll at 5,800 people in Syria and Turkish authorities say 35,418 people have lost their lives in that country, reports Aljazeera.
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Tens of thousands are reportedly homeless during the region’s winter season. Getting access to even basic necessities such as food, water and shelter is a daily struggle.
In the face of that humanitarian crisis, Canada’s immigration minister and his department are trying to figure out what effect fast-tracking applications from Turkey and Syria to get those people to safety would have on the current applications at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
“This is a conversation that we’re having,” Fraser reportedly told journalists. “We’re trying to understand what the impact is on the clients who are in the system.”
The IRCC has a website which regularly shows the number of applications it has yet to process, including the backlog of applications that exceed the department’s service standards. This week, that website did not have the latest data posted.
But data posted in early December last year showed the IRCC had managed to whittle down its enormous inventory of applications to just over 2.2 million from more than 2.5 million two months earlier.
“We have seen a decrease in our overall inventory of over 350,000 applications since Sept. 30, with the most significant decreases in temporary residence programs,” IRCC spokesman Remi Lariviere told Immigration.ca in mid-December.
Faster processing of applications before the IRCC was then being credited for the drop in the department’s inventory.
In the first 10 months of last year, IRCC officials came to almost 87 per cent more final decisions for permanent residents, temporary residents (excluding Electronic Travel Authorizations), and citizenship applications, 4.3 million compared to 2.3 million final decisions for the same period last year.
Work Permits Issued By IRCC Roughly Quadrupled In 2022
In the first 10 months of last year, the IRCC also processed about 593,000 study permit applications or 30.3 per cent more than the roughly 455,000 processed in the same period last year.
“In addition, Canada has issued approximately 645,000 work permits from Jan. 1 to Oct. 31, 2022, compared to about 163,000 over the same period in 2021,” said Lariviere.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, Ottawa was quick to offer aid and grant the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) to allow Ukrainians to come to the safety of Canada.
They arrived in Canada under temporary visas which can last up to three years and are not permanent residents.
But, once in Canada, those Ukrainian refugees can certainly apply for permanent residency and any work experience they gain or studying they do while in the country will only enhance their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores should they decide to complete Express Entry profiles and apply for permanent residency.