More Palestinians may be given temporary visas to come to Canada than are currently allowed with the 1,000-person limit on temporary resident visas for those trying to flee the Gaza, Immigration Minister Marc Miller has said.
“It is conventional for a number of these programs to have an internal number that is established,” Miller said.
“This was one that we thought at the outset, in the context of something being done in a relatively short period of time understanding that it’s a war zone in Gaza, was something to manage flow, understand what the numbers are, and then, you know, remain flexible on the fly if we do see numbers that exceed that.”
Palestinians in Gaza who have relatives who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents in Canada willing to support them for one year have been able to apply for temporary resident visas as of Jan. 9.
“These new measures provide a humanitarian pathway to safety and recognize the importance of keeping families together given the ongoing crisis,” Miller said earlier this month.
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“We will continue to monitor the situation in Gaza very closely as it evolves and adapt our response accordingly.”
On Oct. 7, the Hamas terrorist group which controls Palestine, launched a surprise attack on Israel, crossing the Jewish state’s borders and killing 1,200 people. Since then, an estimated 6,900 other Israelis have been injured.
Israel’s retaliation has been swift and intense. As the war rages on, the death toll has climbed to roughly 23,000, most of them Palestinians, and much of northern Gaza is now in ruins.
Ottawa has responded by opening up a new pathway to help Palestinians flee their war-torn homeland to the safety of Canada with temporary resident visas.
Under the new measure to provide a temporary safe haven for Palestinians directly affected by the crisis in Gaza, eligible family members include a spouse, common-law partner, child, grandchild, sibling, parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, as well as their immediate family members (spouse, common-law partner, dependent child and dependent child of a dependent child).
They will also have access to three months of health coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) to help address any urgent medical needs upon arrival, as well as settlement services such as language training and support connecting with the labour market and local community.
But advocates for Palestinian-Canadians have reportedly complained that the 1,000-visa limit on the new pathway is both inhumane and unfair because there was no cap on the Canadian Ukrainian Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) visa pathway.
“Canada’s 1,000-person quota on Palestinian family members from Gaza is unfairly small, completely arbitrary and unjustifiable, and should be immediately removed,” maintains Michael Bueckert, vice president of Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).
Temporary Residents In Canada Can Later Apply For Permanent Residence
“Rather than imposing arbitrary limits on who is deserving of safety, Canada should be maximizing its humanitarian response to the unfolding genocide in Gaza and supporting friends and family of Palestinian-Canadians.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has also created a dedicated telephone line, at (613) 321-4243 which will accept collect calls for anyone with questions about these special measures.
“The exemptions for temporary resident visa applicants under the public policy expire January 9, 2025, or when 1,000 temporary resident visa applications have been received and accepted for processing, whichever comes first,” notes the IRCC.
Exemptions at the port of entry for people who hold a temporary resident visa that was issued under the public policy expire on Jan. 9, 2025 and the temporary resident visas will be valid for up to three years or the length of the person’s passport validity, whichever comes first.
Once in Canada, these Palestinians will be able to acquire more education and Canadian work experience, both of which will help them earn points through the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) should they ever decide to apply for permanent residence.
Canada operates a two-tier immigration system, accepting applications for permanent residence through its federal Express Entry system’s Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) of its 10 Canadian provinces.