Ottawa to ‘prioritize’ completed temporary, permanent residence applications of Sudanese nationals

By Cristin Schmitz

Law360 Canada (April 25, 2023, 4:23 PM EDT) -- Ottawa says it will roll out special immigration measures for Sudanese nationals who have applied to come to Canada and who are already here, and is also “looking at doing direct airlifts” of Canadians desperate to leave the deteriorating security situation in Sudan and its capital, Khartoum.

On April 25, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament Hill reporters “Canada is engaged with our allies. We have assets in the region. We’re looking at doing direct airlifts ... of Canadians and dependents.”

Asked what the delay is in airlifting the more than 1,500 Canadians who have registered their presence in the northeastern African country, which in the past 10 days has experienced escalating armed violence between rival factions of the military government, Trudeau responded “there’s no delay. Obviously it’s an extremely difficult situation. We’ve had resources in the region for many days now. We’re co-ordinating with our allies.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Trudeau said Canada and other countries are discussing issues such as “who gets to land when” at the two places where airlifts can happen and “who gets to do the airlift work quickly.”

Canada also has a frigate and a supply ship at Port Sudan, the country’s main seaport on the Red Sea. “Canada is very much engaged. We will continue to be,” the prime minister said.

Defence Minister Anita Anand told reporters before the April 25 federal cabinet meeting in Ottawa that there is Canadian Armed Forces and military capacity in the region. “We have them close by, ready to work on evacuating Canadians,” she said. “We are exploring all options alone and with our allies, and we know that dozens of Canadians have already been evacuated. The situation is extremely volatile and extremely tense, and so we need to be very careful about disclosing more information at this time.”

Asked how many registered and unregistered Canadians the government hopes to evacuate, Anand replied “our intention and hope is to assist anyone who has requested that assistance and so Global Affairs Canada is in very close touch with everyone who has requested assistance, and we are moving methodically through that list.”

Anand noted that the Defence Department and Global Affairs Canada “are working very closely together on this. We have been working through the weekend and the last number of days to make sure that we are doing everything possible, and that is why you are seeing some progress thus far.”

On April 24, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser announced that Canada will introduce new immigration measures “in the days ahead” that will enable Sudanese temporary residents currently in Canada and who may be unable to return home due to the rapidly deteriorating situation in their country to apply, free of charge, for an extension of their status in Canada and to move between temporary streams, allowing them to continue studying, working or visiting family. “These measures would help ensure the continued safety of the Sudanese population already in Canada, keep families together, and give them a safe place to stay,” IRCC said in a press release, “Details will be made available in the days ahead.”

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

To facilitate immigration applications for those still in Sudan so they can travel once it’s safe to do so, the federal government said it “will also prioritize the processing of completed temporary and permanent residence applications already in the system from people still in the country.”

IRCC said this includes visitor visa applications for eligible immediate family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents. “Those eligible for priority processing will be still subject to all other statutory eligibility and admissibility requirements,” the immigration department stipulated.

IRCC also said it will waive fees for passports and permanent resident travel documents for citizens and permanent residents of Canada in Sudan who wish to leave Sudan.

The department said it is preparing to deploy additional immigration officers to the region to help those already on the ground support immigration-related operations.

The government announced also that the Canada Border Services Agency is suspending “any work on removals to Sudan”  and does not have any removals to Sudan scheduled “at this time.”

On April 23, Global Affairs Canada announced it was  temporarily suspending operations in Sudan and evacuating embassy staff. “Canadian diplomats will temporarily work from a safe location outside of the country,” the government said. “They will continue working with the government of Sudan, neighbouring countries, as well as with like-minded governments and the international community to coordinate the response to this crisis, and to support Canadians still in country.”

“While operations are suspended in Khartoum, limited consular services continue to be provided,” Global Affairs Canada said in its press release. “Officials in Ottawa are in regular contact with Canadians affected, providing them information and advice as the situation develops. Canadian officials in our missions in nearby countries also stand ready to help.”

The federal government advised Canadians in need of emergency consular help to contact Global Affairs Canada's Emergency Watch and Response Centre:
  • by calling +1 613-996-8885
  • by text message at +1 613-686-3658
  • via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881
  • via Telegram at Canada Emergency Abroad
  • by email at

“We urge all Canadians in Sudan to check regularly for updates and to sign up with the Government of Canada’s Registration of Canadians Abroad service, so that we can provide direct updates and share crucial information about available assistance,” Global Affairs Canada said.

The department said Canada’s embassy in Khartoum will resume operations “as soon as the situation in Sudan allows us to guarantee proper service and the safety and security for our staff.”

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