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Canada launches temporary residence pathway for Ukrainian refugees

Mar 18, 2022 | News, Featured

UCC Alberta President Orysia Boychuk with Minister Fraser. Photo by Marco Levytsky

Marco Levytsky, National Affairs Editor.

No financial support at present although the government is working on it

Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the launch of the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET), March 17. The CUAET is a special, accelerated temporary residence pathway for Ukrainians seeking safe haven in Canada while the war in their home country continues.

With the CUAET, Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality may stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years.

Refugees will receive an open work permit upon arrival, but the government is not offering any financial support at this time. However, its is working on developing a program.

This issue was raised during Fraser’s meeting with Ukrainian community representatives at St. John’s Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Edmonton on the day of the announcement. Ukrainian Canadian Congress National Vice President Olesia Luciw Andryjowycz noted that most of the refugees will be the elderly, women and children who may not be able to work and will also need child care. She also asked whether the government will be providing flights like it did for Syrian refugees.

Fraser said that in the Syrian case they were housed in refugee camps and in many cases had easy access to an air strip. In the future if there is geographic clustering it may be possible. In the meantime, the government is having conversations with airlines to figure out what the right approach should be.

New Pathway – Ukrainian News noted that Ukrainian refugees have no hard currency for airline tickets since the banks in Ukraine ran out, asked what kind of a timeline we can expect for the government to announce support programs, Fraser replied he could not give a date.

I don’t want to make a false commitment to you now and say, ‘give us two or three weeks and we’ll have it sorted because I don’t know yet exactly… what shape these policies are going to take shape,” he said.

As soon as a program is in place the government will be sharing that information with the Ukrainian Canadian community. That was a similar answer that he gave John Shalewa, President of Ukrainian Canadian Social Services (Edmonton), who noted that together with the UCC they have an extensive data base of people willing to provide accommodation but need to know what to do,

“When we get 300 people coming to Edmonton all at once, we can probably house these people with all the offers that we have, but how is that done?” he queried.

“These are all the things we are working one every day. It’s remarkable how this conversation has mirrored the exact conversations we’ve been having in our office during the last couple e of weeks,” replied Fraser.

Under the temporary residence pathway, applicants who are overseas need to apply online for a Canadian visitor visa and provide their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo). For more information go to: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/ukraine-measures/cuaet.html#ukrainian.  Applicants are encouraged to apply for a 3-year open work permit at the same time as their visa application. This permit will allow them to work in Canada. Under this special program, many of the regular requirements associated with a normal visitor visa or work permit have been waived. Elementary and high school students can register for and start attending school as soon as they arrive in Canada, and anyone looking to study at the post-secondary level can apply for a study permit once on Canadian soil.

Applicants who do not have a valid passport may still apply, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will issue a single journey travel document on a case-by-case basis, where appropriate.

Ukrainian workers, students and visitors and their family members who are already in Canada also benefit from these measures. They may either apply to extend their visitor status or work permit for 3 years, apply for a new work or study permit, or extend their existing permit. IRCC will waive all extension and work or study permit application fees.

To ease the burden on applicants, IRCC is waiving all application fees for these programs.

The Government of Canada is also calling on employers who wish to support Ukrainians with offers of employment to register these offers on Job Bank’s Jobs for Ukraine webpage. Job Bank will then work with local organizations and employers to help connect them with Ukrainians seeking work in their communities. There are already 100,000 job offers on the site.

The government is also in discussions with partners, including provinces and territories, the business community, the Ukrainian Canadian community and settlement organizations, on how best to support those arriving from Ukraine, and more information will be available soon. IRCC will continue to monitor volumes of travellers and their needs closely and will take action as required.

“We are working around the clock to help Ukrainians and their families get to Canada as quickly and as safely as possible. We are already prioritizing and fast-tracking applications, and waiving application and processing fees. We have increased our operational capacity in the region, in anticipation of an increased volume of requests. This includes relocating staff and moving additional supplies and equipment, such as mobile biometric collection kits. We are also adjusting operations in offices across our global network to ensure service continuity for Ukraine,” stated the media release announcing the program.

Ukrainians and their family members are exempt from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination entry requirements. However, they must still meet all other public health requirements for travel, such as quarantine and testing. With limited exceptions, all travellers to Canada, including anyone arriving under the CUAET, must also use ArriveCAN.

“The CUAET and Job Bank will be instrumental in supporting the Government of Canada’s response to Vladimir Putin’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Most importantly, these measures help us do our part to welcome more Ukrainians to Canada,” states the release.

“To the Ukrainians who are defending the values we hold dear, we stand with you—not only in our words, but also in our actions. Canada will offer safe haven to your families while you fight on the front lines of a war to defend your freedom to the benefit of the entire world,” said Fraser in making the announcement.

“As brave Ukrainians fight for their lives and their freedom, Canada is ready to welcome their loved ones who are forced to flee. When they arrive safely in Canada, we’re going to help Ukrainians find work and so they can provide for themselves and their families. From ensuring that children can enroll in school to helping parents join our workforce, we want every Ukrainian to find peace, stability, and community in Canada,” added Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

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