Saudi students file for asylum in Canada as deadline to return home passes
Vietnamese source Thoi Bao from Toronto reports:
Cross-cultural translation: As the deadline for Saudi students to leave Canada passes, at least 20 students are filing asylum claims in an attempt to stay in the country. Saudi Arabia asked all its students to leave Canada, after Canada expressed concern in a Twitter post on August 3 over arrests of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent Montreal-based activist from Saudi Arabia, said he's working with the students, whose lives were disrupted in August after a diplomatic feud erupted between Saudi Arabia and Canada. Abdulaziz, 27, successfully filed for asylum in 2013 after he said he was threatened by the Saudi government because of his political activism. "They don't want to go back. Some of them are scared of what happened to me, and they think that if they go back they'll be arrested,” he said. More than 8,000 Saudi students in Canada had their lives upended in early August when they were told to pack their bags by the end of summer. The Saudi government has now said that around 1,000 medical trainees can stay until "an alternative assignment can be arranged." But that leaves little respite for many other students, some of whom have been living and studying in Canada for close to 10 years. Individuals can file asylum claims in Canada if they can prove that in their home country they'll face persecution on the basis of race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a particular social group. Immigration lawyer Peter Edelmann said it's unclear whether defying the Saudi instructions to return would, on its own, constitute sufficient grounds for filing a claim, because the consequences that students will face are unknown. Edelmann said there are other ways that students may be able to remain in Canada. According to IRCC rules, because student visas are issued by Canada, students can stay, despite what the Saudi government may be telling them. Students remain eligible to study in Canada as long as their student permits are still valid. When full-time students graduate, they are typically eligible for work permits through a post-graduation program, and can then begin the process of applying for permanent residency through the government's Express Entry system. Abdulaziz is encouraging students to try to stay in Canada through other means, unless they fear for their personal safety.
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