A large number of Syrians in Canada who arrived as tourists, students, or temporary foreign workers, have been granted refugee status after finding themselves unable to return to Syria due to the ongoing war in the region. Experts say that Syrians who came to Canada to study or work have come to accept that they may not be able to return to Syria for a long time, if at all, and have no other choice but to apply for asylum.
Syrians already in Canada when they apply for refugee status are treated differently from Syrian asylum-seekers who are abroad, with asylum-seekers able to present their cases to the Immigration and Refugee Board. The figures for individuals granted refugee status while living in Canada does not count toward Canada’s official commitment to admit 13,000 Syrian refugees.
The number of Syrians in Canada claiming asylum is expected to fall sharply, however, as it is currently nearly impossible for Syrians outside Canada to obtain student or work visas to enter Canada. Canadian immigration officers are required to only issue visas to applicants who they believe will leave Canada once their visa expires, and as a result they are refusing visas to almost all Syrian nationals.
Canadian immigration officers are obliged to follow the law which prevents them from issuing visas if they believe the person will overstay in Canada once their visa expires.
The Canadian Council for Refugees is calling for a temporary residence permit to be introduced for Syrians who want to come to Canada to study or work as a short term special measure to overcome the limitations of the current system.