New Canadian Immigration Streams for Ukrainians

As of February 24, 2022, Russia has launched a military attack against Ukraine and its people.  The Canadian government has implemented new measures to help the people of Ukraine affected by this attack.

The Canadian government has expressed a commitment to prioritizing applications from people living in Ukraine for Canadian permanent residence, proof of citizenship, temporary residence and citizenship grant for adoption. Additionally, they are attempting to urgently process passports and travel documents for Canadians living in Ukraine, to allow them and their families to return to Canada.

Information for individuals attempting to flee Ukraine to come to Canada

The fastest method for individuals fleeing Ukraine to come to Canada is through the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel. This pathway will eliminate many of the normal visa requirements and there will be no limit to the number of Ukrainians who may apply. As of March 3, 2022, the Government of Canada stated that this pathway will be open for applications in 2 weeks, and in the interim, Ukrainians are encouraged to apply through all other programs and their applications will be prioritized.

In the interim, Ukrainians may apply for an urgent visitor visa to Canada, on a temporary basis, through the IRCC online portal. Note that this application may be difficult to complete as all visa application centres in Ukraine are currently closed. Please contact us directly if you have questions on how to fill out this visa applications amidst the current constraints.  If you cannot obtain valid biometrics or obtain a visa stamp for your passport, (both steps are required to complete the application), you are still encouraged to apply. The Canadian government may decide to make exemptions for these requirements, but it has not yet been confirmed.

The Canadian government has implemented a few amendments to immigration procedures to help facilitate the process of leaving Ukraine for Canada. For example, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has issued a class-based national interest exemption, allowing those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter Canada from Ukraine. These individuals will be subject to all other public health requirements. Additionally, the Canadian government has announced that they will waive fees, retroactive to February 22, 2022, for certain travel and immigration documents.

The Canadian government is also in the process of developing a special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence. This will be available for immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents currently residing in Ukraine, who want to make a permanent move to Canada. Details of this program are yet to be announced.

For Ukranian foreign nationals currently residing in Canada

The Government of Canada is trying to ensure that Ukrainians who are currently working, studying and living in Canada, can remain here. The IRCC will issue open work permits for Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada and cannot go home safely.

The Canadian Border Services Agency has an administrative deferral of removals in place for Ukraine. This means that a removal order, which would normally require a person to leave Canada immediately, is not currently being enforced. This may not apply in all scenarios, if you have a removal order for Ukraine, you should get legal advice as to its immediate effect.

More information

If you would like to get more information on this topic, the IRCC has established a service line specifically dedicated to immigration inquiries for individuals living in Ukraine and Ukrainians living in Canada, at 613-321-4243. Individuals can also use the IRCC crisis web form with the keyword “Ukraine2022”, and their inquiry will be prioritized.

This article was written by Monika Sharma, Student-At-Law, articling at McCuaig Desrochers LLP

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