Ukrainians Urge Canada To Extend Emergency Travel Program

Ukrainians Will Not Be Sent Home Even If Canada Visas Expire
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Despite calls from Ukrainians in Canada for the federal government to extend the Canada-Ukraine Authorization For Emergency Travel (CUAET), Immigration Minister Marc Miller says that’s not in the cards.

In an interview with Canadian Press, the Canadian immigration minister reportedly said an extension of the CUAET is “not something that is actively being considered.”

Miller did not, though, categorically rule out that possibility.

“The operational flexibility needs to be there for what happens in Ukraine,” he reportedly said.

According to surveys, roughly 90 per cent of Ukrainians who came to Canada under the temporary measure launched in the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 now want to stay here permanently.

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But CUAET does not allow them to do that, offering only the opportunity stay in Canada for up to three years as temporary residents and offering them free open work and study permits.

A Canadian non-profit organization representing Ukrainians, Pathfinders for Ukraine, wants Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to open the door to permanent residency for Ukrainians with a permanent pathway.

“We know that employers have been hesitant to hire, train, and promote Ukrainians, knowing their work permit is set to expire in a year,” Randall Baran-Chong, the organization’s executive director and founder, has reportedly said.

“These war-displaced Ukrainians are de-facto refugees but the program is a temporary measure that doesn’t afford them the benefits and protections of refugee status.”

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Almost a quarter of a million Ukrainians are already here after having come under CUAET and a growing number of them are arriving as the March 31 travel deadline for the program looms.

“We’re seeing definitely more arrivals week over week, because people are trying to come, people are coming before the end of it,” Ihor Michalchyshyn, CEO and executive director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, reportedly told the National Post.

Between March 17, 2022 and Feb. 27 this year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) received 1,189,320 applications under the CUAET temporary residence program.

But while 960,091 of those applications were approved during that period, only 248,726 Ukrainians, or 25.9 per cent of the total, actually made the move to Canada.

CUAET Is An Insurance Policy For Many War-Besieged Ukrainians

Many Ukrainians have reportedly applied for CUAET as something of an insurance policy should they need it to flee the Ukraine.

Almost three-quarters of a million Ukrainians, exactly 711,365, are still eligible to come to Canada as temporary residents under CUAET before the end of March.

In February alone, Canada welcomed 27,495 Ukrainians through CUAET.

Once the temporary measure was in place, Ottawa also upped its immigration application processing capacity in Europe and sent mobile biometrics kits to Warsaw, Vienna and Bucharest to take the fingerprints and portrait photos of prospective Ukrainian refugees in a bid to ensure proper security precautions were taken with the surge in applications.

The government then increased its federal settlement programs to include language training, orientation, employment assistance and other supports for Ukrainians as they settled into their new communities.

In addition to settlement services, Ukrainians fleeing to Canada were also offered transitional financial assistance of $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per child.

“These funds will help Ukrainian nationals and their family members meet their basic needs, such as transportation and longer-term housing, as they arrive in communities across Canada and find a job,” noted IRCC on its website.

“Settlement services will remain available to Ukrainians and their family members after they arrive so that they can fully participate in Canadian communities while they are here. Ukrainians and their family members will also continue to benefit from the one-time transitional financial support, as well as from access to emergency accommodations for up to two weeks, if needed, after they arrive in Canada.”

Hotline To Help Ukrainians With Legal Services

This year, Ottawa upped its offering of help to Ukrainians by pumping $475,788 into a trilingual hotline to help them access the legal services they need for the coming three years.

The money was for Pro Bono Ontario’s Ukrainian Refugee Legal Relief Initiative to allow displaced Ukrainians access legal information and advice, including the toll-free hotline that are accessible nationally and abroad.

The hotline provides Ukrainians in Canada with access to Canadian lawyers so they can ask immigration-related questions on such things as sponsorshiprefugee claims and work permits or be referred to provincial pro bono organizations or community groups across Canada.

“Our government is grateful to be able to count on organizations, such as Pro Bono Ontario, that improve access to justice, a fundamental Canadian value and an integral part of a fair and effective justice system,” said Justice Minister Arif Virani.

“This investment shows how our government continues to stand with Ukraine, and that we will continue to support Ukrainians forced to flee their homes because of Russia’s illegal invasion.”

With CUAET no longer taking applications from overseas, Ukrainians wishing to come to Canada from abroad can apply for a visa or a work or study permit through the IRCC’s existing temporary resident programs but are now subject to fees and standard requirements.

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Colin Singer
Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.