By Adrian Morrow
Associate News Editor
Yaser Alyounes is young, skilled and educated — the kind of citizen that Canada wants.
However, a technicality in the government’s immigration policy means the recent Ryerson grad will soon have to move to a foreign country.
“I’m disappointed, I really wish I could stay here,” he said. “I got used to the city, got used to the people.”
He’s being deported because he couldn’t find a job in his field within three months of finishing his Information Technology Management (ITM) degree at Ryerson earlier this year.
Madona Mokbel, a spokesperson with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said little can be done for Alyounes now, though he can always apply to return to Canada once he gets to Saudi Arabia.
“It’s pretty much cut and dry,” she said. “He can go and then re-apply.”
Although Alyounes grew up in Iraq, he’ll go to Saudi Arabia, where his family now lives.
He’s been in Canada for five years and hasn’t been back to the Middle East.
Alyounes is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job, including working for free until the government processes his papers.
“I came here after I finished high school, this was the first place I got work experience,” he said.
“If there’s any position, I’d be willing to do it as a volunteer, as long as it lets me stay here.”
One company offered him a sales job this summer.
However, the government decided it didn’t qualify as a position in his field, since it wasn’t in the tech sector.
He also applied for a job as the Ryerson Students’ Union’s internal co-ordinator, with the intention of helping out as a computer tech.
It was a job he’d already done the previous year, until the RSU cut funding for the position.
Alyounes made a shortlist of three candidates, but a week after his interview, the RSU called to tell him he didn’t get the job.
The union knew about his situation when they interviewed him, he said.
His technical skills are also badly needed at the RSU, which doesn’t have a full-time computer technician.
“Even after I stopped working there, I get calls and e-mails from people at the RSU saying ‘when are you coming back?’ and asking for little projects,” Alyounes said.
“I know the network inside-out. I know the servers, I built programs.”
Heather Kere, the RSU’s VP Education, agrees that the network is understaffed.
She was also concerned that his case exposed problems with the RSU’s equity hiring.
“It was confusing to me that he didn’t get hired,” Kere said. “I thought that we should’ve hired a person of colour.”
She was on Alyounes’s hiring committee and disagreed with their decision to hire someone else.
She raised her concerns that the RSU wasn’t hiring many people of colour during the committee’s discussions on Alyounes’s hiring and at an RSU executive meeting over the summer.
“There wasn’t much of a discussion during the hiring,” she said. “In terms of [equity hiring] being practised, it hasn’t been.”
The provision that allows international students to stay in the country if they find a job after graduation is new in immigration law, said Audrey Macklin, a professor who specializes in immigration law at the University of Toronto.
She said that there isn’t much recourse for people in Alyounes’s situation.
“I suppose he could apply [to stay] on humanitarian grounds, but I’m not sure how you would do that,” she said.
RSU President Nora Loreto, one of the people on Alyounes’s hiring committee, said that Alyounes went through the normal hiring process. The job he applied for wasn’t explicitly a technical one.
“A lot of [the job] is really reference work, office administration and co-ordination,” she said.
Loreto added that the RSU is currently looking to create a new tech job.