What actions is the Government of Canada taking?
- The situation in Afghanistan is evolving quickly. The Government of Canada is working to resettle around 40,000 Afghans to Canada through two programs – one for those who have assisted the Government of Canada and one for other vulnerable Afghans, including human rights activists, women leaders, journalists, ethnic/religious minorities and LGBTI individuals.
- So far, 3,555 Afghans have been resettled under the special immigration program for Afghans who assisted the Government of Canada, and 405 Afghans have arrived in Canada under the humanitarian program. Over 250 Afghan refugees have arrived in Hamilton, including direct and secondary arrivals, after completing a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
- Over the next two years, more Afghans, including those outside of Afghanistan and family members of already-resettled Afghan refugees, will be arriving under Canada’s special humanitarian program for Afghan nationals.
- As part of addressing the Afghan refugee crisis, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced on August 29, 2021 that certain fees and requirements will be waived for Afghan citizens, permanent residents and temporary residents.
- Information on the number of people who have arrived in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada Portal.
- The Government of Canada has announced a new permanent residence pathway for extended family members of former Afghan interpreters. Applications will be accepted as of December 9, 2021. To learn more about this pathway, whether you are eligible and how to prepare your documents, visit here.
How is Afghan resettlement being supported in Hamilton?
- Afghan refugees will arrive in Hamilton either as Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) or through private sponsorship in the coming months. The number of GARs resettled in Hamilton will be determined by the federal government, and the number of privately sponsored refugees will depend on numbers allocated by the federal government combined with sponsorship uptake by members of the public. In addition, members of the local Afghan community may sponsor family members as part of IRCC’s special humanitarian program for vulnerable Afghans.
- Wesley provides primary resettlement support for all government assisted refugees in Hamilton, including temporary accommodation, welcome and orientation, positive integration, and community connections.
- Many other settlement and community services in Hamilton provide supports to immigrants and government assisted refugees and privately sponsored refugees. (Both types of refugees arrive in Canada with permanent resident status). Click here to access a list of local organizations that help newcomers.
- Hamilton has experience supporting and welcoming new arrivals in previous influxes of refugees, most recently during the arrival of 40,000 Syrians to Canada in 2015-2016. The Hamilton region was one of the top five destinations in Canada outside of Toronto and Montreal for Syrian refugees, with 1,150 arrivals.
- Ontario is the top destination province for Afghan refugees and immigrants. Based on Census 2016, there are 33,145 Afghan immigrants in Ontario, including 950 within the city of Hamilton.
How can I sponsor refugees and support family reunification?
In Canada, there are various ways to privately sponsor refugees.
- Learn more about sponsoring refugees on the Government of Canada’s website.
- The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program offers resources and webinars for private sponsors, including Groups of Five, Community Groups and Sponsorship Agreement Holders, on how to privately sponsor refugees.
- You can also connect with local Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) like Diocese of Hamilton Office for Refugees and Anglican Diocese of Niagara or others listed on the government of Canada website to learn more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. (Please note that there are certain criteria for privately sponsoring refugees, and we encourage you to exhaust resources on Government of Canada and Private Sponsorship Training Program websites to learn about sponsorship requirements and process before approaching local SAHs.)
- Lifeline Afghanistan is a non-partisan network of individuals and organizations responding to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Primarily, Lifeline Afghanistan is focused on engaging Canadians in supporting the private sponsorship and in developing innovative strategies to provide social and economic opportunities for Afghan refugees to Canada.
How can I stay informed?
- Learn about Canada’s programs for vulnerable Afghans.
- Follow organizations such as Canadian Council for Refugees to keep informed and to see their recommendations for addressing gaps and barriers in the Afghan refugee resettlement program.
How can I help now?
- Donate to Wesley to support resettlement initiatives for Afghan refugees in Hamilton.
- Volunteer to support area resettlement programs. Volunteer needs and processes are being assessed. Please check back regularly for updated information on this.
- Provide affordable housing. Landlords and property managers who can provide affordable and safe housing for refugees, please contact Wesley at email@example.com
- Be a welcoming and inclusive community member. Arriving in a new community having fled war and crisis can be extremely stressful. Being friendly and welcoming to all goes a long way to making our newest residents feel good as they get to know their new community, make friends and start over in a new country.