The current conflict in Ukraine started on February 24 and continues to this day, with devastating impacts on the country and its population. The conflict has had large humanitarian impacts on Ukraine, including the displacement of millions of Ukrainians from their homes. The United Nations has determined that over 2 million Ukrainian people are currently refugees who have escaped the country to neighbouring countries within Europe. The United Nations further estimates that 4 million people may flee Ukraine as a result of the conflict.
Canada has historically been at the forefront of welcoming refugees from conflict around the world and recently demonstrated again its commitment to welcoming refugees to Canada when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August 2021. Most recently, the Government of Canada responded to the current conflict in Ukraine by instituting immigration measures for affected citizens shortly after the conflict started.
The immigration measures implemented to address the conflict involved the Canadian Government urgently processing documents for Canadian citizens and permanent residents who were in Ukraine so they could return to Canada, prioritizing applications of people who live in Ukraine to come to Canada, and extending a temporary public policy that lets visitors to Canada, including those from Ukraine, apply for a work permit in Canada. Despite taking these measures, at the time there was no update on how the Canadian Government would treat the numerous Ukrainian refugees. On March 3, about a week after the conflict began, the Canadian Government clarified its policy toward refugees from Ukraine.
A press release from the Canadian Government affirmed Canada’s support for the Ukrainian people. As a result of the conflict, Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada is introducing new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to come to Canada permanently or just temporarily.
For those fleeing Ukraine who want to come to Canada temporarily, a new authorization for travel called the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel will be made available. Under the Emergency Authorization, there will be no limit to the number of Ukrainians who can apply to come to Canada. The Canadian government insists that the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel is the fastest, safest, and most efficient way for Ukrainians to come to Canada and eliminates many of the normal visa requirements that are usually needed in order to come to Canada from Ukraine. All Ukrainian nationals will be able to apply under the Emergency Authorization, and after a background check and security screening, could have their stay extended by at least two years following arrival.
In the next few weeks, there will also be extended pathways open for applications to Canada. However, before the extended pathways are opened, the Canadian Government encourages Ukrainians to apply through existing programs, ensuring that their applications will be prioritized. The Government has also indicated that it will develop, and quickly implement a special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence for Ukrainian immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents. This special family reunification sponsorship pathway will be developed over the next few weeks.
Importantly, it was announced that all Ukrainians who come to Canada as part of these special measures will be eligible to apply for open work permits which will make it easier for Ukrainian nationals to find employment in Canada. Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada will also be issued open work permits by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
In addition to the measures mentioned above, the Canadian Government is supporting Ukrainian immigration in other ways. The first way will be the prioritization of applications for new and replacement travel documents for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and their immediate family members. There will also be urgent travelling of single-journey travel documents for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who do not have valid passports.
There have also been measures implemented to prioritize process citizenship grant applications for adoption. Since January 19, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has approved around 2,000 applications from Ukrainian nationals and people residing in Ukraine to come to Canada, and this number is sure to rise due to increased prioritization of applications.
When applying to Canada there will now be a dedicated service channel for Ukrainians in Canada and abroad available to call at 613-321-4243. Collect calls to this number will be accepted. Further, emails inquiries to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada containing the keyword Ukraine2022 will be prioritized. Immigration measures will continue to be updated and can be found on the Canadian Government webpage. An example of an immigration measure that was updated is one that allows Ukrainians who are not fully vaccinated to enter Canada if they have a temporary resident visa, temporary resident permit, or written notice of approval for an application for permanent resident in Canada.
The Canadian Government has further indicated that it is taking additional steps to prepare for the increased volume of applications in order to efficiently process applications. Be sure to look out for additional measures to help the Ukrainian people in the coming weeks as the conflict continues, and Ukrainians continue to leave their country.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We successfully guide clients through the immigration process, with an eye toward the ever-changing regulation. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to the current conflict in Ukraine and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about if you will be able to travel during these uncertain times, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.