Ukraine crisis: Canada opens to unlimited number of Ukrainian immigrants

Shelby Thevenot, Kareem El-Assal
Published: March 3, 2022

Canada is introducing new immigration streams for Ukrainians who want to move to Canada permanently or temporarily.

Canada has the third largest Ukrainian diaspora in the world, with some 1.4 million people. As such, it is looking to do its part to assist as many Ukrainians as possible.

Ukrainians who wish to come to Canada on a temporary basis will be able to obtain a Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel. There will be no limit on the number of Ukrainians who wish to apply. Pending background check and security screenings, they will be able to have their stay in Canada extended by at least two years.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) aims to have this extended pathways open for application in two weeks.

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IRCC will also implement a special expedited family sponsorship program for permanent residence. It will create details for this program in the coming weeks.

All Ukrainians who come to Canada under these measures will be able to apply for open work permits. This means they will be able to work for any employer in Canada of their choice. This is in addition to the other open work permits IRCC has already made available to Ukrainians currently in Canada.

IRCC has stressed that more information on these temporary and permanent residence programs, including processing times, will become available in "the coming days and weeks."

Canada is allowing unvaccinated Ukrainians enter the country if they have a temporary resident visa, temporary resident permit, or written notice that their application for permanent residence in Canada was approved.

The Canadian government previously said IRCC is prioritizing applications for people living in Ukraine who want to travel to Canada for work, study, to reunite with family, or to immigrate.

Canada is also prioritizing processing travel documents for Canadians and their family members who wish to return from Ukraine. IRCC will issue single-journey travel documents for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who do not have valid passports.

Ukrainian nationals in Canada can apply to extend their status as a visitor, student or worker. Canada will prioritize the renewal of work and study permits for Ukrainian nationals, and extend a policy that allows people to apply for a work permit from within Canada. Temporary residents who receive a job offer are allowed to remain in Canada and start working while they wait for their work permit application to be processed.

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IRCC is also establishing a dedicated service channel for Ukraine enquiries that will be available for clients both in Canada and abroad. IRCC is accepting collect calls at +1-613-321-4243. Using the IRCC web form affected clients can add the keyword "Ukraine2022" to their enquiry and their email will be prioritized.

Canada's current information on measures for Ukraine can be found on the government webpage. This Canadian government page will include content in Ukrainian for ease of reference.

Open work permits

IRCC will issue open work permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada and cannot go home. Fees will be waived, retroactive to February 22, 2022, for certain travel and immigration documents, such as Canadian passports, permanent resident travel documents, proofs of citizenship, visitor visas, as well as work and study permits. IRCC says further details will be made available in the coming weeks.

Increasing IRCC operations

IRCC has also started to increase operational readiness in the region by relocating staff, moving additional supplies and equipment, such as mobile biometric collection kits, in anticipation of an increased volume of requests, and adjusting operations in offices across its global network to ensure service continuity for Ukraine. There are online options available for most applications.

Pause in removal orders

In support of Canada’s approach to the situation in Ukraine, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has an administrative deferral of removals (ADR) in place for Ukraine. An ADR is a temporary measure that can delay a removal order that would normally require a person to leave Canada immediately. The removal of these individuals would resume once the situation in their region stabilizes. Those who are not allowed in Canada on grounds of criminality, international or human rights violations, organized crime, or for security reasons can still be removed despite the ADR.

IRCC updates

You can sign up to IRCC's email updates on Ukraine immigration measures by clicking here.

IRCC is also offering its latest updates on this page.

Quebec measures

Later in the day, the Quebec government announced similar measures. Although the federal government has the final say on which foreign nationals get to enter the country, Quebec operates its own immigration program and has more autonomy over immigration than any other province.

The Quebec government will allow Ukrainian nationals residing in the province to sponsor their extended family. The province will also speed up the processing of applications for temporary foreign workers and international students from Ukraine.

The open work permit Canada announced for Ukrainian nationals will also be valid in Quebec. These work permit holders will be able to benefit from Quebec government services such as educational childcare services, schools, and access to health care.

Quebec will also accelerate the processing of Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) applications and Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications from employers of Ukrainian nationals who are already in the province.

Ukrainian nationals will be able to receive support from 95 settlement and integration services, which include housing, registration of children into school, French courses, job integration and other services.

Saskatchewan offers pathway to immigration for Ukrainians

On March 4, Saskatchewan invited 36 Ukrainians to apply for a provincial nomination. Although getting a provincial nomination does not mean permanent residency, it does help an immigration application.

Out of those invited, 14 had profiles in Canada's Express Entry system. The others may be eligible for Saskatchewan's Occupations In Demand immigration stream.

If approved, these individuals will be able to use their nomination to apply for Canadian immigration under the Provincial Nominee Program.

Learn more about Canadian immigration

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