Canada announced March 17 that it has launched its new Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET) — a speedier and no application-fee route to temporary residence in Canada for Ukrainians seeking safe haven from Russia’s ongoing war, but who wish to return to their homeland when it is safe to do so.
“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,” Sean Fraser, Canada’s minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, said in a statement. “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.”
The Canadian government stressed that there are no agents or consultants acting on its behalf with respect to Ukrainian immigration, and warned Ukrainians to avoid becoming victims of fraud. “There is no fee to be considered for the CUAET for Ukrainians and their family members,” the government emphasized. “Only the government of Canada can request personal information or decide your eligibility for the CUAET.”
With the now-available Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel, Ukrainians, and their immediate family members of any nationality, may stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years, the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) said.
Family members are defined as: the spouse or common-law partner of a Ukrainian national; their dependent child; the dependent child of their spouse / common-law partner; or a dependent child of their dependent child.
The government noted that unlike applications for resettlement as a refugee, and immigration streams for permanent residence, there is no cap or limit on the number of visa, work and study applications that Canada will accept under the CUAET.
The government also noted that it will be unveiling details of a separate new “special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence” to assist immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who may want to start a new life in Canada.
Ottawa also called on employers in Canada who wish to support Ukrainians with offers of employment to register their offers on the Job Bank’s “Jobs for Ukraine” webpage.
The Job Bank will work with local organizations and employers to help connect them with Ukrainians seeking work in their communities. “We are 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,” the government said.
The new Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel initiative was first announced March 3.
Applicants outside Canada must apply online for a Canadian visitor visa and provide their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo). They are subject to background checks and security screening.
The immigration department said “applicants are encouraged to apply for a three-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.”
The immigration department said that applicants who do not have a valid passport may still apply, and IRCC “will issue a single-journey travel document on a case-by-case basis, where appropriate.”
IRCC said it can issue a single-journey travel document and a temporary resident permit overseas to permit travel for those without a passport or those who hold an expired one. “This is done on a case-by-case basis, under exceptional circumstances and depending on the situation of the applicant. IRCC also has discretionary authority to assist in-Canada applicants with missing documents.”
IRCC said it has increased its ability to process immigration matters in Europe, including relocating staff there and moving additional supplies and equipment, such as mobile biometric collection kits, to those locations. Online options are available for most applications.
IRCC said Ukrainians and their family members coming to Canada from overseas:
- can apply for a free visitor visa and may be allowed to stay in Canada for three years, as opposed to the standard six-month authorized stay for regular visitors;
- have the option to apply, free of charge, for an open work permit with their visa application, enabling them to find work as quickly as possible;
- will have their electronic visa application processed within 14 days of receipt of a complete application, “for standard, non-complex cases”; and
- are exempt from completing an immigration medical exam (IME) overseas, if applicable, but might be required to complete, and pay for, a medical diagnostic test within 90 days of arrival in Canada to screen for reportable communicable diseases (via chest x-ray or suitable alternative, and blood test).
The government noted that applicants are exempt from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination entry requirements, but must 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.
Ukrainians and their family members who acquire, or already have, temporary status in Canada:
- may apply to extend their temporary resident status for up to three years;
- can leave and return to Canada at any time while their visa is valid;
- may renew their work or study permit free of charge;
- may apply for a new work or study permit free of charge;
- are eligible to attend elementary and secondary school; and
- may be required to complete, and pay for, an immigration medical exam if they haven’t completed one on initial entry to Canada
All Ukrainians and their family members:
- will have most of their application and processing fees waived, including the visa application fee, biometric collection fee, work and study permit application fees, and visitor extension, and work and study permit renewal fees;
- will have all their IRCC applications prioritized for processing;
- may apply for permanent residence under a variety of different immigration programs and streams if they are eligible to do so:
- have access to IRCC’s dedicated service channel, including at 613-321-4243, with collect calls accepted. They can add the keyword “Ukraine2022” to the IRCC crisis web form with their inquiry and it will be prioritized.
Canada said that Ukrainians and their family members working and studying in Canada “will be able to gain valuable Canadian work or education experience to help set them up for future success should they eventually choose to seek permanent residency through IRCC’s immigration programs and streams.
Cristin Schmitz at Cristin.firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613 820-2794