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Canada's Special Pathway

Exploring Canada’s Special Pathway: Visitors Seeking Asylum

In a notable trend, many visitors who entered Canada via the expedited visitor visa pathway are now seeking asylum, shedding light on the impact of COVID-19 on immigration dynamics. As of February 29, 2024, approximately 152,400 visas were issued under this program, including 7,300 Super Visas catering to parents and grandparents. A revealing internal memo disclosed that 19,400 asylum claims emerged from this program, accounting for 13% of visa holders. This article delves into the implications of this phenomenon and the underlying policy framework.

Understanding the Visitor Asylum Trend

The surge in asylum applications among visitors granted visas under the expedited pathway reflects various factors, including the backlog of asylum demand exacerbated during the COVID-19 border closures. Among the visa recipients, a significant proportion, equivalent to 13%, opted to seek asylum in Canada, signaling an unusually high rate, as per reports.

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Policy Context and Waivers

An essential aspect of this trend is the temporary policy adjustments made to facilitate entry and address the backlog. The policy, effective from February 28 to December 7, 2023, waived financial proof and future departure requirements for visa applicants. Despite these waivers, applicants were subject to rigorous security, criminal, and medical clearances, ensuring the integrity of the immigration system.

Impact and Success of the Special Policy

According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the special public policy has played a pivotal role in processing a significant portion of older temporary resident visa applications, contributing to a notable reduction in application backlogs. As of now, the queue stands at 1.14 million applications, with nearly half meeting service standards, marking a considerable improvement from previous years.

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Continued Support for Temporary Residents

In response to the evolving immigration landscape post-COVID-19, Canada has introduced measures to facilitate the transition of temporary residents into the workforce. A notable initiative, initiated on August 24, 2020, allows certain visitors in Canada to apply for employer-specific work permits, aligning with the country’s commitment to supporting temporary residents amidst changing circumstances.

Looking Ahead: Objectives and Opportunities

The extension of the special public policy until February 28, 2025, underscores Canada’s commitment to providing avenues for temporary residents to contribute to the country’s economy and society. The objectives of this policy include enabling eligible foreign nationals to apply for job offer-supported work permits from within Canada and providing opportunities for former temporary foreign workers to work while awaiting decisions on their work permit applications.

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The surge in asylum applications among visitors underlines the need for responsive immigration policies to address evolving challenges and opportunities in Canada’s immigration landscape. As the country navigates post-pandemic recovery, ensuring inclusivity and support for temporary residents remain paramount priorities.

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