Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum, has announced that an additional 10,000 applications from private sponsorship groups wishing to help resettle Syrian refugees are scheduled to be processed this year.
The move follows continued public concern from sponsors and other stakeholders who were caught off-guard when efforts to resettle Syrians were scaled back, even as the Liberals were working on the goal of bringing in 25,000 people by the end of February, 2016, a target that was ultimately achieved. Soon after that milestone was reached, however, the government closed some processing centres abroad and scaled back staff in Canada processing Syrian applications.
“We are doing everything we can to accommodate the very welcomed desire on the part of Canadians to sponsor refugees,” McCallum stated from Berlin, the German capital, where he is currently meeting immigration officials.
The government announced earlier this month it would seek to admit approximately 45,000 refugees by the end of 2016 — a mix of government assisted and privately sponsored refugees from different countries. McCallum said today’s announcement is in addition to the 17,800 privately sponsored refugees the government intends to resettle by the end of 2016. The remainder of settled refugees will arrive with government assistance or through a blend of the two programs.
The Sponsorship Agreement Holders Council,a national membership association for Sponsorship Agreement Holders in Canada, had asked that Syrian applications submitted from January 1 to March 1 not be counted in the cap, and the government responded by extending that up to March 31.
“We’re going all out to meet the demand . . . The Sponsorship Agreement Holders Council has expressed satisfaction with this… now I understand that not everyone is necessarily happy, but I think we’ve gone out of our way to create maximum room for privately sponsored refugees,” said McCallum.
While McCallum is making more room for privately sponsored refugees, he said the the processing of their applications won’t be finalized before the end of 2016 or early in 2017.