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Government of Canada announces support for Turkish and Syrian temporary residents


March 18, 2023—Mississauga, Ontario—As part of Canada’s response to the situation in Türkiye and Syria, the Government of Canada has been processing temporary and permanent residence applications from people affected by the devastating earthquakes on a priority basis, including applications for refugee resettlement. Now, we are also taking steps to make it easier for Turkish and Syrian nationals already in Canada to extend their stay. Today, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced new immigration measures to support Turkish and Syrian temporary residents in Canada who may be unable to return home at this time due to the destruction caused by the earthquakes in the region.

Effective March 29, 2023, Turkish and Syrian nationals can continue to study, work or visit family by applying for an extension of their status free of charge. An open work permit pathway will be made available for Turkish and Syrian nationals already in Canada. These measures will make it easier for Turkish and Syrian nationals who wish to extend their temporary status in Canada and to move between temporary streams. Recognizing that some permanent residence applicants have lost their travel documents as a result of the earthquakes, we will waive the requirement to hold a passport or travel document to be approved for a permanent resident visa to come to Canada. We are also making it easier for Canadian citizens and permanent residents from Türkiye 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. 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.

Canada is also working with UN partners in the area to provide temporary shelter for refugees in Canada’s resettlement process who have been 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.


Quotes

“Canada is committed to providing relief to those impacted by the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria. 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. Our government will always stand ready to respond to emerging international crises and support those in need.” – The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Our government remains committed to supporting Turkish and Syrian nationals affected by the earthquakes. We know that many Canadians have family members who have been impacted by the earthquakes and today’s measures should offer comfort to those Canadians. 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. We understand the challenges faced by those impacted by this tragedy and remain steadfast in providing support and relief during this difficult time.” – The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • As of February 8, 2023, there were close to 16,000 Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) clients with applications in progress in Türkiye and Syria. Of these, approximately 1,700 (750 permanent and 920 temporary residents) were from the area impacted by the earthquakes.

  • These measures will be in effect from March 29 to September 25, 2023.

  • More information about how to apply for these new measures will be available on IRCC’s website in the coming weeks.

  • As of February 24, 2023, Canada announced $50 million in humanitarian support for the earthquake response in Türkiye and Syria. This funding will help support a range of critical humanitarian activities and a timely, effective and coordinated humanitarian response in both Türkiye and Syria.

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