The federal government of Canada is no longer accepting new referrals for the special immigration program designed to give priority to former employees of the Canadian Armed Forces or government and their families, even though it is less than halfway to its target of bringing 40,000 Afghans to Canada.
According to CBC News, the Canadian government is reviewing the last of the 18,000 applications submitted by Afghans seeking to enter the country through the program.
The online referral platform for the program is still up and running, but a spokesman for the Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser confirmed in a media statement that all slots in the program have been filled.
The program appeared to be poised to terminate in mid-June, according to Canadian media, causing a coalition of humanitarian organizations to release a joint statement criticizing the action.
Refugee advocates continue to argue that the decision to phase out the program abandons Afghans who are longing to go to Canada.
However, other options for Afghans who want to come to Canada, according to the Canadian Immigration Ministry, include a humanitarian program and another that assists the families of former military translators.
Since August of last year, around 16,540 Afghans have entered Canada through the program.
Before the government of the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to relocate 40,000 Afghans to safety and a few weeks before Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021, the initiative was established about a year ago.