'I'm just looking for a safe place': Refugee with job waiting in B.C. faces roadblocks
Ahmad Ebrahimi has been living in the overcrowded Moira refugee camp in Greece for almost a year and a half, after fleeing Afghanistan where he says his life was in danger.
Now, despite a job waiting for him in B.C., Ebrahimi’s attempt to apply to come here under the provincial nominee program has been stalled.
“It makes me very sad,” he said.
Ebrahimi worked as a photographer and filmmaker in Afghanistan, where his wife and three young children still live. Last year, he met Laurie Cooper with the non-profit Canada Caring Society, and she has been working to bring him to B.C.
“Ahmad is a very talented producer, editor,” she said.
Cooper said a local production company has an editing job waiting for Ebrahimi, and household goods have been donated and put into storage for him. However, she said B.C.’s nominee program is “the most restrictive” in Canada, and “the most difficult for refugees to qualify for." She said the program awards points to applicants under different categories.
“Ahmad has the maximum number of points for work experience. He exceeds the required language level,” she said.
But despite that, Cooper said Ebrahimi is still nine points short. Ironically, she said the only way to get those points would be Canadian work experience.
“Unfortunately, as a refugee he will never be given a temporary work visa to come to Canada to get that work experience. So effectively, he’s blocked,” she said.
CTV News Vancouver requested an interview with B.C. jobs and trade minister Bruce Ralston, but were told he was unavailable. In an emailed statement, the ministry says the nominee program is based on “economic criteria that best meets the needs of the province."
“We are unable to comment on individual cases, but we are committed to assessing all applicants based on consistent criteria,” the ministry said.
Cooper said they’re now looking at options in Ontario, while still hoping there may be a way to bring Ebrahimi to B.C. and the life waiting for him here.
Ebrahimi is hopeful that can happen, too.
“If you accept me to come to Canada, I would be able to make a better future for my three children,” he said, adding he thinks about his family every second and is worried about their safety.
“I’m just looking for a safe place to be able to improve my life,” he said.