Last month, the ICC (Iranian-Canadian Congress), a non-profit, non-partisan, and non-religious organization founded in 2007 to represent the interests of Canadian-Iranian citizens, held a community event calling for an end to the “discrimination” faced by Iranians as a result of the lack of visa offices and biometric centres in Iran.
Since 2012, when Canada imposed sanctions on Iran, closing its embassy in Tehran and ordering the expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Ottawa- Iranians have been ‘forced’ to travel to nearby Turkey or United Arab Emirates (UAE) for visa or biometrics services – a requirement introduced in 2013 for anyone entering Canada.
Furthermore, there are little or no consular services nor diplomatic support for Iranians in Canada causing urgent consular matters such as reissuance of passports, etc. to be substantially delayed. Presently, only the Embassy of Canada to Turkey in Ankara has consular responsibility for Iran.
Moslem Noori, the president of the Iranian-Canadian Congress, calls this plainly “discriminatory,” according to an article in The Star.
“Iranians are among the (few) that cannot” access visa centres in their own country, he says.
“But if you look at the number of Iranians and international students who come to Canada, we see that there’s a huge number … So, I feel that that’s discrimination. That’s frustration for Iranian-Canadians”
The article also reported that while: “This obviously affects Iranians at home, but also the over 200 000 Iranian-Canadians residing mostly throughout Southern Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, as they have family members back home unable or unwilling to visit due to the added hardships that come with having to travel to Turkey or the United Arab Emirates.”
Trips to Turkey and UAE for biometrics services adds an average of $2000 more to one visa application.
Iran is one of Canada’s top ten leading source countries for immigrants and international students, with over 200 000 people identifying as Iranian immigrants or direct descendants of Iranians across the country. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Iran was the eighth largest source of new permanent residents to Canada in 2021, welcoming 11 000 Iranians to Canada.
Iranians have made significant contributions to the country’s economic, social, and cultural well being in the past and presently.
In recent years, a wave of emigration of Iranian elites and youth has intensified, owing primarily to the country’s shattered economic situation and a lack of civil liberties. Since the Iranian revolution in 1978, Canada has become a popular tourist and immigration destination for Iranians.
The majority of Iranians who immigrate to Canada are educated and fluent in English. Wealthy Iranians are also interested in obtaining Canadian residency through investment.