Canada Allows Yazidi Refugee Families to Sponsor Family in Refugee Camps

IRCC Widens Refugee Sponsorship Criteria and Extends Deadlines

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has approved a new policy that enables Yazidi refugee families residing in Canada to sponsor their extended family members living in Syrian refugee camps.

The new policy implemented this week extends the time frame for refugee sponsorship and broadens the eligibility criteria.

“By changing the policy to be more inclusive of extended family members, we are showing compassion,” Mendicino said in a recent interview with CBC News.

Mendicino added that this policy change not only demonstrates Canada’s commitment to maintaining a strong, robust refugee system, but also shows the country’s dedication to upholding human rights.

Canada’s original Syrian refugee program  aimed to resettle Yazidi women and girls and their spouses who had been directly affected by ISIS. Unfortunately, many refugees have been forced to come to Canada alone without many of their family members.

Refugees were, however, able to reunite with extended family members through the private sponsorship of refugees (PSR) program. Spouses, common-law partners and dependent children were also able to come to Canada within 1 year after their family members had settled in Canada.

Unfortunately, certain ISIS survivors that have resettled in Canada are unable to bring families living in Iraq to Canada, as they do not meet the eligibility requirements.

Under the new policy, however, family members that fall under this category will be eligible to become government-assisted refugees or privately sponsored refugees.

This new policy comes only a few months after several Yazidis and community groups wrote to Mendicino asking for the government to expedite sponsorship applications and offer humanitarian aid for those residing in Syrian refugee camps. According to CBC, they never received a direct response from the immigration minister, but are pleased to hear that more family members will now be eligible for sponsorship.

As of January 2021, Canada has welcomed 1,356 government-assisted refugees and 94 privately sponsored survivors, all of which are Yazidi women and girls. The resettlement program received $21.7 million in government funding to cover income support, the Interim Federal Health Program, and others supports, such as language training.

Even still, CBC reported that there is an estimated 360,000 Yazidis living in refugee camps.