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Russia-Ukraine war: Canada announces new immigration streams for Ukrainian nationals

On March 3, 2022, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that it would be introducing new immigration streams and emergency measures for Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada temporarily or permanently, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These new streams are in addition to previously announced measures for individuals affected by the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

New temporary residence stream

In its recent news release, IRCC announced that it is creating the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel, a program that will be available to fleeing Ukrainian nationals. There will be no limit on the number of individuals who can apply. Ukrainians who are approved under this new temporary stream will be permitted to remain in Canada for up to two years. IRCC indicates that this stream will be the fastest, safest, and most efficient way for Ukrainians to come to Canada, but that normal background checks and security screening will continue to apply. IRCC expects to open this new temporary stream within two weeks of the March 3 news release.

Further measures permitting Ukrainians to secure open work permits in Canada have also been announced, along with measures facilitating the issuance of open work permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers, and students who have already relocated to Canada.

New permanent residence stream

IRCC will implement a special family reunification sponsorship stream to facilitate permanent residency status for Ukrainians. More details about this stream will be released in the coming weeks, as IRCC works with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

Additional measures to streamline applications

In order to prepare for an anticipated increase in the volume of requests, IRCC has increased its operational readiness in Europe, including relocating staff and moving additional supplies and equipment. IRCC is also working to make online options available for most incoming applications.

As well, the Minister of Immigration has issued a class-based national interest exemption to allow unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Ukrainian nationals who hold a temporary resident visa or temporary resident permit, or written notice of approval for an application for permanent residence. This exemption also applies to individuals who are vaccinated with vaccines not currently recognized by Canada.  All other public health requirements will continue to apply.

In addition to prioritizing applications filed by Ukrainians under existing temporary resident categories, IRCC is waiving application fees, retroactive to February 22, 2022, for certain travel and immigration documents, including Canadian passports, permanent resident travel documents, proofs of citizenship, visitor visas, and work and study permits.

Additional resources

Individuals with questions about any of the Ukrainian immigration options may call IRCC’s dedicated service channel at 613.321.4243.

Applicants making enquiries through the IRCC crisis web form can also add the keyword “Ukraine2022” to their enquiry to have it prioritized.

If you have further questions on the new developments and changes to the immigration scheme for Ukrainian nationals, please reach out to your BLG lawyer or any of the key contacts listed below.

Key Contacts