Canada says it’s not obligated to speed up visas for people from Afghanistan

Photo: Reuters

The Canadian government has responded to a lawsuit filed over its perceived delays in resettling people from Afghanistan who worked for Canada and were left behind following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, a local media outlet reported.

Canada’s Toronto Star news agency reported that Ottawa has asserted it is not responsible for the danger faced by these individuals and their families, stating that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has no obligation to process their permanent residence applications within a specific timeframe.

In its defense, the Canadian government has argued that while it had indicated expedited processing and efforts to resettle the refugees, no specific processing times were given.

It emphasized that the risks faced by the applicants in Afghanistan were inflicted by foreign entities and not connected to the government of Canada.

“While Canada indicated processing timelines would be expedited and that Canada was working as quickly as possible to resettle Afghan nationals, no specific processing times are specified,” the government said, quoted by Toronto Star.

“Canada acknowledges that the Applicants face serious risks in Afghanistan. Those risks however are inflicted by foreign entities in Afghanistan, with no connection to the Government of Canada,” it added.

The legal action was initiated by a former security guard at the Canadian embassy and two dozen law firm employees retained by the embassy for local legal work.

They had expressed interest in Canada’s Special Immigration Measures (SIM) program in accordance with the rules.

Some applications were submitted before the Taliban’s takeover on August 15, 2021, while others were presented in the following months. However, they only received an invitation to apply a year later, after the lawsuit was filed.

The litigants, who meet the criteria for the resettlement program, have faced threats and targeting by the Taliban, leading them to hide with their families in Afghanistan or in a third country.

The government’s assertion that the applicants only remained in Afghanistan due to Canada’s inaction was challenged by the litigants’ lawyers, who highlighted the escalating risks as the Taliban strengthened its control.