Refugees facing delays in working and supporting families due to 'pointless' mistakes on work permits

Posted
January 31, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Eritrean refugees to Canada are going without valid work permits -- in some cases for months -- because their passports don't follow the Canadian format.
 
Unlike the Canadian passport, which lists a person's last name followed by their first name on two separate lines, the Eritrean passport lists the first name followed by the last on one line. This is leading to work permits being issued with the names in the wrong order -- last as first and first as last.
 
The invalid permits are leaving refugees unable to provide for their families."I couldn't work, I couldn't help myself and my family," said Abduselam Aman, a refugee from Eritrea who applied for a work permit for himself and his wife in March 2017, two months after they arrived in Canada. 
 
"My wife still doesn't have her permit. We are lost, we don't know who to contact anymore or what to say."
 
Aman and his wife, Munira Abdulkeni, received their work permits with their names switched around two months after applying -- a mistake most employers will not look past.
 
They immediately requested that Immigration Canada correct their permits. After another two-month wait, Aman got his back -- this time with the name correctly displayed -- but his wife's gender on the new permit was wrong. The couple sent the permit back again.
 
Six weeks later, the work permit came back again -- with a spelling error.
 
To this date, roughly a year after they first applied, Abdulkeni does not have a valid work permit.
 
Aman and his wife, now settled in Toronto, are two of dozens of refugee claimants or protected persons (people who have been granted refugee status by the Canadian government) the Star knows of who have received work permits with name errors.
 
To get a social insurance number, a refugee claimant or protected person must have a valid work permit. The S.I.N. is required to receive certain benefits and services, such as child tax benefits, from the government.

Read more: Refugees facing delays in working and supporting families due to 'pointless' mistakes on work permits