While children across the country are getting ready to go back to school, an activist says that hundreds of non-landed immigrant children in Quebec will be staying home when the bell rings this week.

“Some people have been here for three, four, five years and for one reason or another, they have a visitor visa temporarily or they have a series of visitors visas while they’re waiting to get another status, but it doesn’t give them access to free schooling,” Education Across Borders spokesperson Steve Baird told CTV Montreal.

According to Baird, the number of children ineligible for free public school in the province ranges from “a few hundred to a few thousand.” To be eligible, children would have to become landed immigrants. 

In order to enroll in a Quebec public school as a non-landed immigrant, families would have to pay $5,657 a year for each primary student and $7,075 a year for each secondary student.

“The right to education is something that tends to be guaranteed in most countries,” Baird said. “There’s almost nowhere in Europe, in the States also, where kids can’t access school regardless of their immigration status. In Canada, it’s somewhat exceptional, it depends on the province and the situation of the kids, but there’s a lot of people that are unable to go to school.”

Although Quebec’s National Assembly debated a bill that would have remedied this issue, it was dropped in the spring. Baird hopes to see new legislation in the fall.

“Hopefully, this will be the year when it gets solved for all kids,” he said. “Not just some of them and not others.”

With files from CTV Montreal