Ottawa to open new ‘humanitarian permanent residence pathway’ for some migrants starting in fall

By Cristin Schmitz

Law360 Canada (October 10, 2023, 3:27 PM EDT) -- Ottawa has announced that “starting this fall” it will open a “new humanitarian permanent residence pathway” for 11,000 Colombians, Haitians and Venezuelans located in Central or South America or the Caribbean and who have extended family connections in Canada, that is, the principal applicant is a child (regardless of age), grandchild, spouse, common-law partner, parent, grandparent or sibling of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

On Oct. 10, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller announced that “as part of” the federal government’s commitment announced last March to welcome 15,000 migrants from the Americas, Canada will welcome up to 11,000 Colombians, Haitians and Venezuelans through a new humanitarian permanent residence pathway.

“We are providing a path to economic opportunities to help address forced displacement, as an alternative to irregular migration,” Miller said in a statement. “Through this initiative, we are providing regular migration pathways to people in the Americas by leveraging permanent resident humanitarian and economic pathways, and temporary work programs.”

Immigration Minister Marc Miller

Immigration Minister Marc Miller

Miller said successful applicants “will be offered enhanced pre-arrival services, including an employment skills assessment and a referral to a settlement provider organization in their intended community. More detailed information will be available closer to the launch of the new pathway.”

The day before Canada and the United States expanded, on March 25, 2023, the Safe Third Country Agreement (treaty between Canada and the United States established to manage the flow of refugee claimants at the countries’ shared land border) to apply not only at designated ports of entry, but across the entire land border, including internal waterways, Canada announced it would open its doors to 15,000 migrants “on a humanitarian basis from the western hemisphere over the course of the year, with a path to economic opportunities to address forced displacement, as an alternative to irregular migration.”

Miller noted that the global displacement of people in search of safety is at an all-time high. “The Americas are seeing unprecedented numbers of migrants seeking safe haven and new opportunities, in often dangerous situations such as crossing the Darien Gap [into Panama from Colombia]. Working closely with the US, we expect to see these measures help curb irregular migration and promote safe migration as an alternative to the often dangerous irregular routes in the Americas.”

The federal government said it is “actively collaborating with the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration to understand the regional context and humanitarian needs linked to migration in the Americas. We also support the work of the safe mobility offices in the region, whose objective is to consider individuals for humanitarian and other regular pathways.”

Ottawa said it is on track to meet its target of “welcoming an additional 4,000 temporary foreign workers from the region this year, many of whom have already arrived in Canada.” The federal government said is also connecting with non-governmental organizations in the region to leverage its new Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot project, which helps skilled refugees and other displaced people immigrate to Canada.

The Liberal government said that in addition to its commitment to welcome 15,000 migrants, it continues support for the implementation of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, and the North American Leaders’ Summits.

The government said it is spending $75 million over six years for projects across Latin America and Central America that “focus on strengthening asylum capacity and better integrating migrants and refugees into local communities and labour markets.”

Ottawa said its financial support “will help countries, including those that refugees and migrants are coming from, travelling through, or are being hosted in, address the challenges of irregular migration, while also improving the quality of life for migrants and refugees.”

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