Turks And Syrians Hit By Earthquake To Get Extensions To Stay In Canada

Turks And Syrians Hit By Earthquake To Get Extensions To Stay In Canada
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Turks and Syrians in Canada hit by the massive earthquake last month can apply for extensions to their study permits, work visas or tourist visas free of charge starting March 29 rather than return to damaged homes.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Turkey and Syria on Monday, Feb. 6 only to be followed by another, almost as powerful aftershock within about 12 hours.

In the wake of that biggest earthquake to hit the region since 1939, more than 57,300 are now confirmed dead and 14 million people, about 16 per cent of Turkey’s population, have been affected by the natural disaster. The United Nations estimates 1.5 million people have been left homeless.

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Ottawa has stepped up to the plate to help Turkish and Syrian nationals in this time of need.

Within weeks of the natural disaster, on Feb. 24, Canada announced $50 million in humanitarian aid. 

Since Feb. 8, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has also accepted 16,000 applications from Turks and Syrians, including 750 permanent and 920 temporary resident applications from the areas impacted by the earthquakes.

“Canada is committed to providing relief to those impacted by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

“We are already prioritizing the processing of applications from those affected and today we are introducing new measures that make it easier for Turkish and Syrian nationals to extend their stay in Canada and be with their families while continuing to work and study in a safe environment.”

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says many Canadians have family members who the earthquakes have impacted and the latest steps to help those relatives back in Turkey and Syria should offer comfort to those Canadians. 

IRCC Giving Priority To Applications From Earthquake-Devastated Countries

“With these new measures, we hope to ease the hardship they’re currently facing by prioritizing overseas applications and making it easier for them to stay longer in Canada,” said Alghabra. 

“We understand the challenges faced by those impacted by this tragedy and remain steadfast in providing support and relief during this difficult time.”

Canada’s response to the disaster has been to invest in a United Nations-led humanitarian system, including support for the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund and the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination. 


Ottawa has also deployed a Canadian Disaster Assessment Team (CDAT) to the areas affected by the earthquakes in Turkey. That team has assessed the situation on the ground and provided recommendations for additional Canadian humanitarian support.

Turkish and Syrian nationals trying to escape the devastation in their home countries are further hampered by the relative weakness of their passports. 

While the Canadian passport is ranked as the eighth most desirable in the world, allowing Canadians to travel to 186th destinations without needing a visa, the same cannot be said for Turkish and Syrian passport holders.

While the Turkish passport is still relatively strong, ranking 54th on the Henley Passport Index, and allowing Turks to travel to 111 destinations visa-free, the Syrian passport is one of the weakest in the world. The Syrian passport, ranked 108th in the world, only allows its holders to travel to 30 destinations visa-free.

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