Temporary public policy for foreign nationals being airlifted from Afghanistan
The withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan, which began on May 1, 2021, and is now virtually complete, has created significant risks with respect to security in the country. Security concerns in Afghanistan are high as the Taliban reasserts their influence over the country, including gaining control over a number of significant border crossings, which makes it very difficult for individuals to leave. In addition, the Government of Canada has suspended operations at its Embassy in Afghanistan.
As foreign nationals become increasingly desperate to flee the country, the situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) is growing increasingly dire, and access to the airport is severely limited, as the Taliban asserts control. Thousands are currently seeking refuge within the airport, with a very limited number of flights and seats available. As a result, it is difficult for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and immigration clients to enter the airport and be evacuated to Canada. There is therefore an imperative to support the allied effort to evacuate as many people. The Government of Canada is deeply concerned that individuals left behind will fall under harm, or worse, by the Taliban, in particular, members of vulnerable groups, including women leaders, human rights advocates, religious minorities, LGBTI, and others.
These vulnerable foreign nationals seeking to be evacuated from Afghanistan may face difficulties obtaining a travel document to enter third countries, and are unlikely to have already made an application to enter Canada. Further, as allies are seeking, for effective running of the evacuation effort, to fill all available seats on flights, and/or find destinations that would accept such flights, Canada is being called upon to provide a safe haven to individuals without other temporary or permanent solutions for their protection.
The intention of this public policy, in light of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and evolving operational reality, is to exempt eligible foreign nationals from the requirement to pay the applicable Temporary Resident Permit processing fees and fees for the provision of services in relation to the collection of biometric information. Such granting of exemption would facilitate the issuance, to these foreign nationals, of Temporary Resident Permits that could be issued pursuant to section 24 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
It is intended that the fee waivers would apply when it is possible to issue such Temporary Resident Permits prior to arrival in Canada, or where they are issued at the port of entry. The fee waiver will apply for up to 5000 people being evacuated by the Government of Canada as part of the current allied evacuation effort.
It is also intended that Temporary Resident Permits issued prior to arrival, or at the port of entry, would provide foreign nationals with a method to overcome certain requirements, such as the requirement to hold a travel document as per section 52(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). All other screening and admissibility requirements remain applicable and remain subject to officer discretion.
Pursuant to section 10.01 of IRPA and section 12.1 of IRPR, the biometrics collection requirement is mandatory for most foreign nationals making a claim, application or request under the Act.
Biometrically-required clients who are physically outside of Canada must enroll their biometrics overseas prior to travelling to Canada, and results should be reviewed by an officer prior to making a final decision on the application. As biometrics enrollment overseas may be impossible or not feasible due to safety and security reasons, existing authority under section 12.8 of the IRPR may be relied upon by Designated Officers to allow for a biometrics exemption in the overseas context, on a case-by-case basis, in support of the temporary resident permit. Should R12.8 be exercised in the overseas context, biometrics may be enrolled from all biometrically-required persons at the ports of entry (POE) in support of any subsequent application for temporary residence or permanent residence.
If CBSA determines the examination cannot be completed at the POE and authorizes entry to Canada under section 23 of the IRPA, then biometrics could be collected at the location of the deferred examination under section 12.3(a)(ii) of the IRPR.
Therefore, I hereby establish that there are sufficient public policy considerations that justify the granting, pursuant to section 25.2 of IRPA, exemptions from the requirements of the IRPR listed below to foreign nationals who meet the conditions set out below.
Conditions (eligibility requirements)
Based on public policy considerations, when considering issuance of a Temporary Residence Permit to the below identified foreign nationals, delegated officers may grant an exemption from the requirements of the Regulations identified below when a foreign national meets the following conditions:
- The foreign national is physically present;
- within the perimeter of the HKIA,
- at a muster point in Afghanistan identified by the Government of Canada,
- in a transit country, or
- at a Canadian Port of Entry; and
- The foreign national will be, or was, airlifted, by the Government of Canada, or a government of a foreign state, an organization or an entity, acting in cooperation with the Government of Canada, out of Afghanistan, en route to Canada, as part of the current allied evacuation effort.
Provisions of the Regulations for which an exemption may be granted, if applicable:
- Subsection 298(1) – the requirements to pay an application processing fee for a Temporary Resident Permit;
- Subsection 315.1(1) – the requirement to pay for the provision of service in relation to the collection of biometric information.
Other Admissibility and Selection Criteria
Foreign nationals eligible under this public policy are subject to all other applicable eligibility and admissibility requirements unless exempted by this temporary public policy or another public policy.
Effective Date and Expiration
This temporary public policy will take effect on the date of signature, and will expire after 5000 people, who been evacuated via the current allies’ air bridge at HKIA to Canada, have benefited from this public policy. This temporary public policy may be revoked at any time, without prior notice.
Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Citizenship and Immigration
Dated at Ottawa, this day of 25 August 2021
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