Canada announces new immigration support for Turkish and Syrian nationals

Kareem El-Assal, Edana Robitaille
Published: March 18, 2023

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser has just announced new measures in response to the Turkey-Syria earthquake that occurred in February.

The measures, which will be in effect between March 29 and September 25, 2023, include:

  • Priority processing for immigration applications submitted by those impacted by the earthquake.
  • Cost-free extensions for Turkish and Syrian nationals already in Canada to extend their temporary stays.
  • New Open Work Permits for Turkish and Syrian temporary residents already in Canada. The durations of the OWPs will be up to three years.
  • IRCC will waive passports and travel document requirements for those overseas seeking Canadian permanent residence.
  • IRCC is waiving fees for temporary passports, limited-validity passports, emergency travel documents, Canadian citizenship certificates, and permanent resident travel documents for Canadian citizens and permanent residents from Turkey and Syria looking to return to Canada.

IRCC says more information on these measures will be posted on its website in the coming weeks.

Canada’s humanitarian response to the Turkey and Syria earthquake

Following the earthquake in Turkey and Syria on February 6, figures from both countries indicate more than 50,000 people were killed and many more have lost their homes.

As of February 24, Canada has allocated $50 million in humanitarian support for both countries.

Syrian and Turkish communities in Canada

Canada initiated a major Syrian refugee initiative in November 2015.

Over 100 days, Canada welcomed more than 25,000 Syrian refugees by February 2016.

Data from Census 2021 shows between 2016 and 2021 there were 60,795 Syrian-born refugees admitted to Canada, accounting for over one-quarter (27.8%) of Canada's new refugees.

Syria is one of the top ten source countries for new immigrants to Canada. In 2022, 8,500 Syrians became permanent residents. Census 2021 shows 97,590 people reported Syria as their country of birth.

The 2021 Census also reports that 35,270 respondents selected Turkey as their country of birth.

Among them, 10,150 reported being recent immigrants (arriving between 2016 and 2021).

Statistics Canada says there are 76,740 people of Turkish origin in Canada.

Further, data from IRCC shows that 8,765 Turkish study permit holders had their study permits become effective between 2020 and 2022.

Learn more about Canadian Immigration

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