Canadian Immigration Lawyers Believe That Syrians Should Be Exempt From a Requirement Imposed by the Conservative Government in 2012
By now, many of us have bore witness to the tragedy that struck the lives of the Kurdi family. After British Columbia resident Tima Kurdi’s application to privately sponsor her brother Mohammad and his family was refused, their third brother, Abdullah attempted to flee from Turkey to Greece with his family. When their boat capsized, his two young sons and his wife drowned. Pictures of their three-year-old son, Aylan Kurdi, have since shocked the nation. Following this unthinkable heartbreak, Canadian immigration lawyers find themselves faced with the questions of why and how this could have happened.
In October of 2012, a rule was imposed by the Conservative government which states that an individual must be designated a refugee by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), or by another country, before they can be considered for private sponsorship to come to Canada. The rule applies only to refugees being sponsored by groups of five or more Canadians–referred to as G5s–and not to sponsorship agreement holders such as churches and community centres. The rule was implemented as part of a larger overhaul of Canada’s refugee system, and was initially intended to protect against fraud, while simultaneously helping reduce the backlog of private sponsorship applications.
Many refugee lawyers believe that this rule could be the reason that so few Syrians, including Tima Kurdi’s family, have made it to Canada. As many Canadian immigration lawyers have witnessed, this requirement continues to makes it extremely difficult for the masses of people who are interested in helping remedy the crisis in Syria to even begin the process of doing so. Due to a lack of resources, the UNHCR has only been able to complete the intensive screening process required to designate someone a refugee for a small portion of the population since 2011, when large numbers of Syrians began fleeing their country. While Canadian immigration lawyers recognize that the Turkish government has also taken responsibility for registering and designating refugees entering their country, they also suffer from a lack of resources and face similar challenges.
As a result of these issues, only a very small number of refugees are recognized by the UNHCR, which undoubtedly acts as a barrier for private sponsorship. Refugee groups, and numerous Canadian immigration lawyers strongly believe that Immigration Minister Chris Alexander should exercise his right to waive this requirement for groups of applications, and exempt Syrians from this rule. It is the ultimate hope of many refugee lawyers that the Kurdi tragedy, and the increased interest in sponsoring Syrian refugees that has resulted, will prompt the government to review this rule.
If this requirement has affected your application for private sponsorship, contact a refugee lawyer today.