Canada to speed up Haitian immigration requests

Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:29pm EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada will step up the processing of immigration applications from Haitians who have Canadian relatives as part of its aid effort following Haiti's devastating earthquake.

The Canadian government said on Saturday it would give priority to applications by citizens seeking to sponsor close family members from Haiti.

It also said Haitians temporarily in Canada would be allowed to extend their stay, and that priority consideration would be given to pending adoption cases.

"It's our intention to reunite Canadian citizens and permanent residents from Haiti with their relatives who have been significantly and adversely affected by the earthquake as quickly as possible," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told a media briefing on Saturday.

About 65,000 Canadians identified themselves as being of Haitian origin in the most recent census, although the government estimates there is a significantly larger number, he said.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration eased restrictions permitting Haitians already in the United States illegally to stay for up to 18 months.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Peter Cooney)

 
<p>Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney speaks to media following Question Period in the House of Commons foyer on Parliament Hill in Ottawa May 5, 2009. REUTERS/Blair Gable</p>