Canada Announces Plans to Support Ukrainian Immigration

With the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, countries are looking for ways to assist Ukrainians who are seeking safe refuge. Canada is working to create new measures to assist those affected by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, including new immigration streams for Ukrainians seeking to come to Canada on a temporary or permanent basis. Several other support measures are also already in place.

As many of the measures outlined below are in development, this blog will be updated as new details are announced and application streams open.

Ukrainian Immigration Streams Under Development

IRCC is working on two new immigration streams to make it easier for Ukrainians to come to Canada:

  1. a Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel, available for individuals who seek to flee Ukraine temporarily; and
  2. a special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence.

Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel: This stream will be available to all Ukrainian nationals fleeing Ukraine and may provide temporary status in Canada for a period of two years or more. Although most standard visa requirements will not apply, applicants will still be required to complete background checks and security screening. This stream will have no application cap, allowing an unlimited number of applications from Ukrainians. Applications are expected to open in two weeks when the stream comes online.

Family Reunification Sponsorship: Many Canadians and permanent residents of Canada will have direct family connections to individuals seeking to leave Ukraine on a permanent basis.  Ukrainians who are extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will have a unique pathway for sponsorship of permanent residence in Canada. Information on this stream is light while program development is underway. More details will be available in the coming weeks.

Open Work Permits: All Ukrainians who travel to Canada as part of these new streams are expected to be eligible to apply for open work permits, allowing employers to quickly hire Ukrainian nationals. It is expected that study permits, or other authorizations will be provided to minor children.

New Immigration Measures Already Available

While these new immigration pathways are being established, the Government of Canada has already implemented certain immigration measures to support Ukrainians and people residing in Ukraine. This includes making it easier and faster for Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and their accompanying immediate family members to return to Canada. Some of the measures already in place include the following:

  • establishing a dedicated service channel for Ukraine enquiries that will be available for clients both in Canada and abroad at 613-321-4243;
  • processing travel documents (and waiving associated fees, retroactive to February 22, 2022) for Canadian citizens and permanent residents in Ukraine on an urgent basis;
  • prioritizing applications from those living in Ukraine relating to permanent residence, proof of citizenship, temporary residence, and citizenship grants for adoption; and
  • issuing and extending existing open work and study permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers, and students who are currently in Canada.

All foreign nationals will be screened before coming into Canada to ensure that they do not pose a threat to the health, safety or security of Canadians.

Unvaccinated Ukrainian Nationals

Notably, unvaccinated Ukrainian nationals with a temporary resident visa, temporary resident permit, or written notice of approval of an application for Canadian permanent residency can enter Canada but must meet all other public health requirements (i.e., quarantine and testing).

If you are an employer looking to hire Ukrainian nationals for your workforce, the MLT Aikins immigration and labour and employment lawyers would be pleased to discuss the available opportunities with you.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.