Afghan refugee sponsorship quota should be removed, advocates urge feds – National | Canadian

A group of advocates is urging the federal government to remove the limit on applications to sponsor certain Afghan refugees in Canada _ or at least stop counting rejected applications towards it.

The government introduced a new program last month to allow Canadian individuals and organizations to privately sponsor up to 3,000 Afghan refugees who don’t have refugee status from the United Nations refugee agency or a foreign state.

The government said it will accept sponsorship applications under the new program until October 17, 2023, or once it has received applications for 3,000 refugees _ whichever comes first.

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Canadians helping Afghan refugees frustrated by private sponsorship programs

Stephen Watt, co-founder of Northern Lights Canada, a non-profit that’s been helping Afghan refugees in Toronto, said the program’s application system crashed shortly after the government opened it at midnight on Oct. 17 due to many people rushing to submit applications.

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He said many of the submitted applications will likely end up rejected on a technicality because the government said it will process only the first 3,000 applicants and thus sponsors had to raise funds and write their sponsorship applications quickly.

“It’s so disappointing,” he said.

“This announcement that whether (the applications) are good or bad, we’re still going to count them towards the total. So, what that did was create this condition where people were frantically rushing to put together applications.”

Immigration department spokeswoman Isabelle Dubois confirmed in a statement the government will count all completed applications towards the 3,000 limit.

Click to play video: 'NDP accuses Ottawa of losing 2,900 files of Afghans who helped Canada'

NDP accuses Ottawa of losing 2,900 files of Afghans who helped Canada

She said the department is currently reviewing the received applications to determine whether it reached that cap.

“We understand some clients experienced issues when submitting an application. No applications were lost as files were automatically backed up,” Dubois said.

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“Applications are reviewed on a first-in, first-out basis to determine their completeness. We will continue to send out acknowledgments of receipt for applications that are determined to be complete and accepted into processing.”

Ottawa has committed to resettling a total of 40,000 Afghan refugees after the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August of last year, with nearly 23,000 arrived now in Canada.

&copy 2022 The Canadian Press

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