Written by Anna Kuranicheva, Staff Immigration Lawyer at Edmonton Community Legal Centre
On October 23, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) started intake for a new pathway for Permanent Residence (PR) for Ukrainian nationals currently residing in Canada and their family members outside Canada. It is intended as a family-reunification pathway since one of the core requirements is to have family members who are citizens or permanent residents of Canada. This immigration measure has been highly anticipated for over one and a half years since IRCC initially announced a “quick” implementation of a special family-reunification program for Ukrainian newcomers in early March 2022, just weeks following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.
The legal authority for this new PR pathway is rooted in section 25.2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protect Act (IRPA); this provision allows IRCC to grant PR status and exempt foreign nationals from any legislative requirements where such relief, on certain conditions, is justified by public policy considerations. For the past several years, IRCC has relied on section 25.2 of the IRPA extensively to issue “temporary public policies” and institute various immigration measures under those policies quickly and unilaterally, without subjecting them to Parliament’s scrutiny or conducting a regulatory impact assessment through the regular law-making processes in Canada. For instance, temporary public policies pursuant to section 25.2 enabled special PR pathways for Afghans and Hong Kong residents or temporary residents with particular educational credentials and work experience in Canada. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada signed the temporary public policy regarding this new PR pathway on April 26, 2023, and slated to take effect 180 days thereafter (hence October 23 as the launch date).
Under this PR pathway, there are two categories. The 1st category requires the applicant to:
The 2nd category is intended for spouses/common-law partners of Ukrainian nationals with family members in Canada in one of the above-listed eligible relationships. The anchor family members in Canada must, likewise, be over 18, citizens or permanent residents of Canada, and currently residing in Canada. The applicant spouses/common-law partners themselves:
Both categories allow for the inclusion of the applicant’s dependent family members, whether accompanying or not, regardless of their current country of residence. Those family members must meet the regular regulatory definition of “family member:” spouse, common-law partner, and biological/adopted child under 22 years of age or over 22 and substantially depending on parents’ financial support due to a physical or mental condition. The family members currently in Canada must have a valid temporary resident status.
It is noteworthy that applicants for this new PR pathway are required to demonstrate their relationship to the anchor family member in Canada only by supplying a statutory declaration attesting to the relationship sworn by the anchor family member. Non other documentation to prove the relationship is expressly required from the outset – for instance, marriage/birth certificates to establish the family ties as spouses, children/parents, or siblings. Processing instructions for IRCC officers still contemplate requesting additional information from applicants to render eligibility decisions. Arguably then, further documentation may be required to demonstrate the anchoring family relationship beyond the statutory declaration, and it would be prudent for applicants to enclose such documentary evidence in the first place when submitting the application.
Applicants and their accompanying/accompanying family members are subject to the standard admissibility requirements and assessments, with the exception of the inadmissibility for financial reasons pursuant to section 39 of the IRPA. Also, anchor family members in Canada are not required to demonstrate any minimum income or ability to provide applicants with financial support. Similarly, there is no undertaking imposed on either applicants or anchor relatives to ensure the provision of financial support by the anchor relative and to hold them liable to repay any income support that the applicant might access after having been granted permanent residence. These features render the new PR pathway completely non-onerous in financial terms – in contrast to the family-reunification PR sponsorships under the legislated Family Class or Spouse/Common-law Partner in Canada Class.
Lastly, this new PR pathway will be open for applications until October 22, 2024, when the enabling temporary public policy expires. There are no application caps and no antecedent requirement to receive an invitation to apply before submitting the application.
Full details about this PR pathway for Ukrainian nationals – from the enabling policy to the public-facing application instructions – are available from these online sources:
2) Program delivery instructions for processing officers: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/publications-manuals/operational-bulletins-manuals/updates/2023-pathway-pr-family-ukraine.html
3) Public-facing instructions to prepare and submit applications: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/ukraine-measures/pr-family-reunification.html