April 24th, 2024

Families who fled Gaza before applying for special visa must find other way to Canada

By The Canadian Press on March 21, 2024.

Destroyed buildings stand in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Wednesday, March 20, 2024. The federal government says people who managed to escape the Gaza Strip no longer qualify for a special program to reunite with extended family members in Canada if they didn't finish the application process before they left. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Leo Correa

OTTAWA – The federal government says people who managed to escape the Gaza Strip no longer qualify for a special program to reunite with extended family members in Canada if they didn’t finish the application process before they left.

The government launched a special visa program in January that would offer temporary refuge to as many as 1,000 people in Gaza who have extended family members in Canada.

But a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada confirms people who escaped to Egypt before reaching the second stage of the application process aren’t eligible.

Instead, the department says those people can apply to come to Canada through other immigration programs.

The government has tried to advocate on behalf of more than 300 Palestinians trapped in Gaza to escape through the border controlled by Egypt and Israel, but so far has been unsuccessful.

Some families have paid thousands of dollars to private companies that have helped their families get to Egypt, but now find themselves stuck.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2024.

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