March 9, 2016
25,000 Syrian Refugees Have Arrived in Canada. What’s Next?
On February 27th, 2016, Canada’s Immigration Minister, John McCallum, announced that the 25,000th Syrian refugee had landed in Canada. This number includes both government-sponsored and privately-sponsored refugees. This accomplishment marks the partial fulfillment of Canada’s commitment to assist those fleeing the civil war in Syria. In its campaign, the Liberal government promised to accept 25,000 government-sponsored refugees, in addition to those privately sponsored. To meet this goal, Canada will have to accept approximately 10,000 more government-sponsored Syrian refugees.
The government’s plan to resettle Syrian refugees is implemented in five phases, which are at present running concurrently:
Phase 1: Identifying refugees to come to Canada
Phase 2: Processing refugees overseas
Phase 3: Transportation to Canada
Phase 4: Welcoming refugees to Canada
Phase 5: Settlement and community integration
Greater resources will now shift to the final phase, as recently-arrived Syrians will require assistance in settling, including finding permanent accommodation, jobs, and integrating into the community.
In order to meet the promise of bringing refugees to Canada quickly, some changes to the private sponsorship process have been made. These include:
- Recognizing Syrians as refugees on a prima facie basis, because of the reduced burden of proof required to demonstrate that a Syrian’s individual personal circumstances meets the definition of a convention refugee
- Temporary exemption of previously required refugee status recognition document
- Faster processing times for Syrians as more visa officers and staff members were made available
- Temporarily modifying administrative procedures providing greater leniency in regards to information, forms and documents
Now that the first 25,000 refugees have arrived, Mr. McCallum has said that the resettlement process will slow down. However, the government has not outlined what actions the program will take in the future or if the above exemptions will continue to apply. Syrian refugees will continue to be accepted into Canada, albeit at a slower pace.
Mr. McCallum has stated that since becoming the immigration minister, his primary focus has been to meet the promise of resettling Syrian refugees. His priority will now shift towards improving processing times for those already in the immigration system.
For more information on claiming refugee status, please click here: