Ottawa to extend Canadian stays for earthquake-affected Turkish, Syrian temporary residents

By Cristin Schmitz

Law360 Canada (March 20, 2023, 12:12 PM EDT) -- Turkish and Syrian nationals temporarily in Canada to study, work or visit family can apply to extend their status free of charge, as of March 29, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) announced.

IRCC said in a March 18 press release that an “open work permit pathway” will also be made available for Turkish and Syrian nationals already in Canada in order to make it easier to extend their temporary status here and to move between temporary streams.

As well, given that some permanent residence applicants have lost their travel documents as a result of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, the federal immigration department said it will waive the requirement to hold a passport or other travel document in order to be approved for a permanent resident visa to come to Canada.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

IRCC said it is also making it easier for Canadian citizens and permanent residents from Turkey and Syria to return to Canada by waiving fees for temporary passports, limited-validity passports or emergency travel documents, as well as Canadian citizenship certificates and permanent resident travel documents.

“These new measures build on work already under way to prioritize overseas applications from those who have been personally impacted by the earthquakes,” IRCC said. “New and existing temporary residence applications from the affected regions, as well as permanent residence applications — including refugee resettlement applications — are all being processed on a priority basis. This includes visitor visa applications for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents, so they can join their loved ones in Canada.”

IRCC said the new measures will be in effect from March 29 to Sept. 25, 2023. More information about how to apply will be posted on IRCC’s website “in the coming weeks.”

“Canada is committed to providing relief to those impacted by the devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Syria,” Sean Fraser, the federal minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said in a statement. “Our government will always stand ready to respond to emerging international crises and support those in need.”

His department said that, as of Feb. 8, 2023, there were close to 16,000 IRCC clients with applications in progress in Turkey and Syria: approximately 1,700 (750 permanent and 920 temporary residents) were from the area impacted by the earthquakes.

IRCC noted Canada is working with UN partners in the area to provide temporary shelter for refugees in Canada’s resettlement process who are seriously impacted while they wait for their applications to be processed. “We will continue to closely monitor the needs of people in the region and will adapt our response as needed,” the department said.

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