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Helping Ukrainians - Special Immigration Measures for Ukrainian Citizens

The following is a republication of a Communique received from Connecting Ottawa's Heather Neufeld. Connecting Ottawa is a phenomenal organization that supports front-line workers in Ottawa in providing appropriate legal information and referrals to clients with communication barriers as a result of language or sensory disability. We are republishing this Communique in an attempt to widen its distribution.

"Special Immigration Measures for Ukrainian Citizens: What We Do and Don't Know So Far

In just the past few days, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced new measures to expedite temporary and permanent residence applications made by Ukrainians. The department also plans to develop new programs to allow Ukrainians to seek safety in Canada. However, there is much about these new measures we do not yet know.

What We Do Know

  • For all immigration inquiries concerning Ukrainian cases, call IRCC's dedicated phone line at 613-321-4243.

  • If contacting IRCC by web form concerning a Ukrainian case, use the keyword "Ukraine2022". Be sure to use the special IRCC crisis web form:

  • In the coming weeks, IRCC will provide details concerning how to apply to come to Canada temporarily under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel, a new program available to all Ukrainian nationals fleeing Ukraine.

  • As of March 3, 2022, IRCC stated that the program should be open within two weeks.

  • There is no limit to the number of individuals who may apply.

  • IRCC also plans to implement a special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence. This program will be for family members of Canadian permanent residents and Canadian citizens who are citizens of Ukraine.

  • All Ukrainian students, workers and visitors already in Canada are now eligible for open work permits to work for any employer. All Ukrainians who arrive in Canada through the new special measures will also be eligible for open work permits.

  • Ukrainians arriving in Canada on temporary visas or permits are now permitted to enter Canada even if they are not vaccinated.

  • Ukrainians are now exempt from paying fees for Canadian passports, permanent resident travel documents, proof of citizenship, visitor visas, as well as work and study permits.

  • IRCC is prioritizing and urgently processing travel documents for Canadians, permanent residents, and their immediate family members, including issuing single-journey travel documents for immediate family members who do not have valid passports.

  • IRCC is prioritizing both temporary and permanent residence applications for Ukrainians, as well as prioritizing the renewal of work and study permits for Ukrainians already in Canada.

  • Canada's Visa Application Centres in Ukraine are all closed.

  • The Canadian Border Services Agency now has an Administrative Deferral of Removal in place for Ukraine, meaning that Ukrainians cannot currently be deported from Canada unless issues of criminality or security are involved.

What We Don't Know

  • Given extremely long processing times for most immigration applications, what will expediting actually look like?

  • Will biometrics, medical exams and criminal record checks still be required for applications that normally require them or will IRCC show flexibility given that Ukrainians are fleeing a war?

  • How long will Ukrainians be permitted to remain in Canada under the new Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel and what happens when that time period expires? We don't know if these individuals will have an easy route to permanent residence once their temporary residence expires or if they will have to make a refugee claim or request permanent residence on humanitarian grounds. Note that a refugee claim will only succeed if someone meets the refugee definition under Canadian law.

  • What family members will qualify to come to Canada under the new special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence? We don't know if this will be a simplified version of our current sponsorship processes or if additional family members like siblings will qualify.

  • How will IRCC deal with issues like expired passports when it comes to travel? Anecdotally, we have already heard of applications being held up because some Ukrainians have expired passports and cannot renew them.

Advising Ukrainians in Canada Concerning Immigration Options

It is important that Ukrainians currently in Canada consult an immigration lawyer before making a final decision about any next steps such as making a refugee claim. Remember that making a claim means that the individual will no longer be permitted to return to their home country if successful on their claim until they become a Canadian citizen. We do not know how long the war in Ukraine will last and some individuals may only want to stay in Canada temporarily. In addition, simply fleeing a war does not mean that someone automatically meets the refugee definition. Every case must be assessed on its individual facts. It is important that each Ukrainian in Canada receive personalized advice on the immigration options available to them" - Connecting Ottawa's Heather Neufeld

If you are interested in learning more about private sponsorship, consult with the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program.

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