Amid the ongoing refugee crisis in the Americas, the federal government has announced the launch of a new humanitarian pathway for 11,000 Colombians, Haitians and Venezuelans to find residency in Canada.
Marc Miller, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, announced that this humanitarian pathway, which is now open for applications, will provide “permanent residence to Columbian, Haitian and Venezuelan foreign nationals.”
“We are determined to uphold our humanitarian tradition and support those in need,” Miller said in a press release.
“Providing safe, legal pathways for displaced people to start new lives in Canada not only delivers on that commitment, but also strengthens our country through the profound contributions newcomers make in their communities, including growing our economy and filling labour market gaps.”
In order to qualify for the humanitarian pathway, the applicant must be affiliated with a Canadian citizen or permanent resident who agrees to support them and their family members for the first year of Canadian residency.
The federal government says those who enter Canada through this humanitarian pathway will receive “pre-arrival services,” which include an assessment of employment skills and a referral to a settlement service provider organization. Immigrants who enter the country via this pathway may also be eligible for “transitional financial assistance” from the Resettlement Assistance Program.
“The new humanitarian pathway provides an alternative to irregular migration northbound through Central America for some of those who are displaced due to political, social and economic instability,” the release said.
It added that the government “will continue to monitor the progress of the pathway and adjust as required toward these goals.”
In order for migration candidates to apply, they must submit their application using an online portal, where they will need to provide a signed statutory declaration from the Canadian permanent resident or citizen who will be supporting them.
Since Quebec has chosen not to participate in this program, applicants must not plan to live within that province, the press release warns.
On top of these humanitarian pathways, Canada also announced it will be increasing its assistance for “capacity-building efforts” across Latin America and the Caribbean, by investing $75 million over six years for projects within the region – an effort, the government says, “will strengthen asylum capacity and better integrate migrants and refugees into local communities.”
Last year, more than 39,000 asylum seekers entered Canada through unofficial crossings, primarily into Quebec through a dirt path off Roxham Road in New York.
With a rising influx of immigrants hoping to enter the country, Canada and the U.S. agreed in March to amend a two-decade old pact known as the Safe Third Country Agreement, expanding the agreement to apply beyond ports of entry to prevent irregular crossings. At the same time, Canada also committed to accepting 15,000 migrants from the Americans through official means of entry.
However, following these amendments to the program, the number of refugee claimants actually surged, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
With files from Reuters