Immigration measures for people affected by the war in Ukraine


This article was authored by Laurence Turenne, Canadian Immigration Lawyer, Galileo Partners.

In recent announcements, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) confirmed the introduction of new immigration programs and measures to support Ukrainians who have been directly affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In an effort to facilitate the arrival of Ukrainians in Canada, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced on March 17, 2022 the creation of the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET), a new temporary residence pathway.

This program is available to Ukrainian citizens and their immediate family members of all nationalities who wish to flee the war in Ukraine and settle temporarily in Canada.

Under this new program, many of the requirements normally required in an application to stay temporarily in Canada are waived. The analysis now focuses on background checks and security screening. IRCC confirms that applicants will need to continue to obtain a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) – if it is currently required based on their nationality – and to submit their biometrics as part of the process.

The CUAET will allow Ukrainians and their family members to stay in Canada temporarily for up to 3 years. Overseas applicants, regardless of their current country of residence, will need to apply for a TRV online, selecting the CUAET as the reason for submitting the application.

Applicants will also be eligible for a priority processing of 14 days or less if they submit a complete application and if it is considered standard. Any application requiring special analysis by the IRCC may result in additional processing times.

Any CUAET applicant who wishes to work in Canada will have the possibility to submit an open work permit application simultaneously. Special measures to facilitate the hiring of Ukrainians are also put in place, including the creation of a page dedicated to Ukrainian workers on the Job Bank website. Canadian employers with positions to fill are invited to register their job offers to help Ukrainians who are currently looking for a job in Canada.

CUAET applicants wishing to pursue post-secondary studies will be able to apply for a study permit upon arrival in Canada, while minor children accompanying parents or family members will be able to obtain a visitor record or a study permit to pursue studies at the primary or secondary level upon arrival in Canada, depending on whether their accompanying parents or family members are holders of work permits or visitor records.

CUAET will also allow Ukrainian visitors, workers and students currently in Canada to extend their status for a period of 3 years, if the situation in Ukraine does not allow them to return safely to their home country.

IRCC insists that it is committed to supporting Ukrainians who wish to flee the war and come to Canada through the following initiatives:

  • A telephone line has been set up to respond to any Ukraine immigration-related inquiries at (613) 321-4243;
  • A request for priority processing can be submitted via the IRCC crisis web form using the keyword “Ukraine2022”, regardless of the type of program under which the application was filed;
  • IRCC removed all government and processing fees associated with applications submitted under the CUAET program, including fees related to the biometrics transmission;
  • A national interest exemption was issued to allow unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Ukrainians and their family members to board a flight to Canada. It should be noted that they will, however, be subject to quarantine and testing requirements upon arrival in Canada;
  • CUAET applicants who do not have a valid passport or national identity document will also be eligible to apply. A one-way travel document may be issued to allow the applicant to fly to Canada; and,
  • Additional biometric collection locations are being set up and mobile biometric kits are being sent to Visa Application Centres (VACs) in Europe to facilitate the transmission of biometrics.

In addition to the CUAET, IRCC is introducing a new special sponsorship stream for Ukrainians wishing to settle in Canada permanently and who are immediate or extended family members of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. This program should be implemented in the coming weeks.

CILA would like to congratulate IRCC on the implementation of the CUAET program, an exceptional measure to address the current crisis in Ukraine. CILA recognizes the various actions taken by IRCC during this unprecedented situation.

CILA acknowledges the various measures put in place to facilitate biometrics collection and passport submission, while the VACs in Ukraine remain closed to the public.

However, based on the testimonies received from various stakeholders, CILA believes that IRCC should be more proactive in determining where its resources could be useful. Various stakeholders indicate that appointments for biometrics collection continue to remain highly limited, which in turn, limits the ability of applicants to finalize their application process.

Submitting a CUAET application also involves its own set of difficulties for immigration representatives, as applications cannot be submitted using the Authorized Paid Representative Portal. Moreover, there is no possibility to file a CUAET application in paper format, which may also complicate the process for applicants who have limited access to technology and internet during this crisis.

CILA urges Ukrainian citizens to apply for CUAET as soon as possible and to contact our Canadian lawyers who are available to provide immigration assistance to anyone affected by the war in Ukraine.

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