The federal government is still speaking to counterparts in Pakistan and planning for flights carrying Afghans to arrive here from Islamabad in the next few weeks, Immigration Minister Marc Miller told journalists on Thursday.
"We are planning flights in the next few weeks but I can't speak to specific times and locations," he said.
Ottawa recently reached its goal of bringing at least 40,000 Afghans here, even as Pakistan began deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghans back to neighbouring Afghanistan, under Taliban rule.
On Monday, CBC News revealed Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada had sent written warnings to Afghan would-be migrants to Canada, warning them to stay in their guest houses and asking them to advise the High Commission of Canada in Pakistan by email if they're arrested.
A police officer escorts an Afghan national, who according to police was undocumented, to a temporary holding centre in Karachi, Pakistan on November 2, 2023. (REUTERS)
It's not clear how many Afghans who escaped Afghanistan in 2021 and are still in Pakistan are hoping to come to Canada under special immigration measures meant for former employees of the Canadian Armed Forces or government, and their family members. Immigration Canada does not disclose that number, citing operational security concerns.
The letter addressed to the migrants also warned them the IRCC cannot help them obtain visas.
"The government of Canada cannot help clients regularize their status in Pakistan. Even if their application for permanent residence to Canada is approved, the Pakistani authorities at the airport may refuse exit if clients have not complied with all local immigration laws," it reads.
"There are challenges getting specific exit visas for Afghans seeking to be relocated into Canada," Miller said, when asked if his department can help on that front.
He also said he is keeping lines of communication open with the government of Pakistan.
His department says roughly 35 charter flights carrying Afghans have come to Canada from Pakistan since 2022.