Ottawa is introducing special immigration measures for Lebanese citizens and Canadians impacted by the two explosions that rocked Beirut and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
“Lebanese citizens in Canada on a temporary basis are … able to extend their stay in Canada if they are unable to return home because of the explosion,” said Immigration Minister François-Philippe Champagne in a statement. “Canada will waive the cost of documents related to renewing their status for them as well as for Canadians and permanent residents in Lebanon who need to come home.”
Champagne is also Canada’s minister of foreign affairs and has pledged to ensure all Canadians and their families get the help they need from the Canadian consulate.
“Canada is setting up a task force on Lebanon to support the delivery of consular services, and to ensure that questions related to immigration can be quickly addressed,” he said.
Canadian immigration officials say Canadians and permanent residents in Lebanon have the right to return to Canada, subject to public health measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Immediate family exemptions for foreign nationals related to Canadian citizens and permanent residents are in place at the border. Those family exemptions are subject to the new arrivals having valid temporary resident visas, agreeing to a two-week mandatory quarantine, and coming for visits of not less than 15 days.
International students from Lebanon are able to travel to Canada provided they had a valid study permit issued before March 18.
Although Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is facing a backlog of applications due to the global pandemic, it is prioritizing applications for Canadians and permanent residents returning to the country, vulnerable groups and people who perform essential services.
The federal government’s latest move to help Canadians and Lebanese affected by the explosions in Beirut with immigration services is in addition to its pledge of up to $30 million in humanitarian and development assistance for Lebanon.
“This funding will help trusted partners like the Red Cross and the Humanitarian Coalition to address immediate humanitarian needs and support early recovery efforts,” said Champagne.
“The people-to-people ties between Canada and Lebanon are strong,” he said. “Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that survivors of the recent tragedy receive the help they need. We remain engaged and stand ready to assist however we can.”
Canadians who need consular help in Lebanon can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beirut at 961 4 726 700 or [email protected], or they contact Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1-613-996-8885 or [email protected].
The Canadian foreign affairs minister expressed his shock and sadness over the explosions last week, saying Canada mourns all those who lost their lives and wish the survivors a speedy recovery.