Now that students in Canada are back to school, children of undocumented immigrants may find themselves without access to education due to their immigration status.
At the start of September, many families saw the beginning of the new school year, but some children in Canada were not able to attend classes at the start of the month.
In Canada, children of Canadian citizens, permanent residents, refugees, asylum seekers, and other documented immigrants have free access to education. Only in Ontario are the children of undocumented immigrants allowed to attend school for free, leaving these children without access to education in Canada’s other 12 provinces and territories.
Collectif Éducation Sans Frontières, the Quebec based branch of Canadian non-profit organization Education Beyond Borders, has estimated that several thousand children are being denied schooling due to a lack of legal status in Quebec alone.
Children living in Canada without status can occur as a result of a number of situations, including the denial of refugee or asylum claims or families remaining in Canada after the expiration of their temporary work permits or visitor visas.
In one of the many provinces that deny free education to children without legal immigration status, families can enroll their child in school if they are willing to pay thousands of dollars in school tuition fees. In many cases, the payment of these fees is an unattainable goal for immigrant families, particularly those that are in Canada without status and do not qualify for welfare benefits.
In contrast, in the province of Ontario no person under the age of 18 can be prevented from attending public school even if they have no legal immigration status in Canada. Similarly, the United States of America allows foreign born children without immigration status in the country to attend public school.
With the sanctuary city movement, whereby cities allow access to municipal resources without asking for immigration status, growing in Canada, there is a chance that the situation could improve for these children in the future.
For the time being, the dangerous effects of families remaining in Canada without status make clear the imperative nature of following the rules set in place by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). For assistance navigating the Canadian immigration regime or renewing your Canadian immigration status, contact FWCanada.
FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.