Canada is establishing an immigration task force in support of Lebanon.
Canada’s Minister of Immigration and the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a statement indicating that the task force will assist those affected by last week’s tragic events in Beirut. The purpose of the task force is to “support the delivery of consular services, and to ensure that questions related to immigration can be quickly addressed,” they said in the statement.
The Canadian government commits to allowing Lebanese citizens who are temporarily in Canada to extend their stay if they are unable to return home because of the explosion.
In addition, Lebanese citizens who are in Canada temporarily and Canadians and permanent residents who are in Lebanon and who need to return home will be exempt from fees related to the renewal of their status documents.
Canadians and permanent residents in Lebanon have the right to return to Canada, provided that coronavirus public health measures are followed. Immediate family members of foreign nationals who are related to Canadian citizens and permanent residents are also exempt.
The exemption is subject to possession of a valid temporary resident visa, a mandatory two-week quarantine and a minimum 15-day visitor stay in Canada. International students coming from Lebanon may also travel to Canada if they have a valid study permit issued before March 18, 2020.
Lebanese immigration to Canada has a long and storied history. The first Lebanese immigrant to Canada is believed to have arrived in Montreal in 1882. Today, the Canadian government estimates there are between 200,000 and 400,000 Canadians of Lebanese origin living in Canada.
Lebanese-Canadians are among the many prominent members of Canadian society. They comprise the likes of federal, provincial, and municipal politicians, athletes, musicians, academics, civil society officials, and business people.
Currently, Lena Diab is Canada’s longest serving immigration minister. She has served as the province of Nova Scotia’s immigration minister since 2013. Diab was born in Nova Scotia, but moved with her family to Lebanon during her childhood before eventually returning to Canada.
Last week, Lebanese-Canadian business leaders announced they would seek to raise at least $2.5 million in relief for victims in Lebanon.
Between 2015 and 2019, an average of 1,800 Lebanese nationals obtained Canadian permanent residence per year.
Canada welcomes immigrants under its economic, family, and refugee classes.
Lebanese-Canadians with close family in Lebanon are able to sponsor their relative through Canada’s family class program.
The largest available immigration option is through Canada’s economic class program. It comprises nearly 60 per cent of the 340,000 or so immigrants that Canada seeks to welcome each year.
Two strong explosions in the port of Beirut devastated several sectors of the city on August 4, 2020. More than 200 people were killed and 6,000 injured in the explosion. The extensive structural damage left approximately 300,000 people homeless and rendered several health care facilities, including hospitals, inoperable.
Canada responded quickly to help those most affected by the blast by providing up to $30 million in humanitarian and development assistance to the Lebanese people.Recently, Canada’s partners at the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration have restarted refugee readmission operations, with priority being given to the most urgent cases.
“The people-to-people ties between Canada and Lebanon are strong. Canada will continue to monitor the situation closely to ensure that survivors of the recent tragedy receive the help they need. We remain engaged and stand ready to assist however we can,” declared the Canadian government in the statement.
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