Canada immigration news: The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) saw twice as many Ukrainians get the green light to come here in less than a month than Canada accepted as refugees in all of last year.
The CUAET pathway was flooded with 140,877 applications from Ukrainians looking for refuge in its first 26 days, by Apr. 12. That includes 46,417 who have already been approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
That compares to only 20,010 new permanent residents who came to Canada as refugees in 2021.
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The flood of Ukrainians approved under the CUAET this year is more than five times the 9,230 new permanent residents to Canada under refugee programs in 2020 and 54.4 per cent higher than the 30,070 new permanent residents under refugee programs in 2019, the last full year before the Covid-19 global pandemic.
CUAET Offers Ukrainians Open Work And Study Permits For 3 Years
The new arrivals to Canada from Ukraine are coming under temporary visas which can last up to three years and are not permanent residents.
But, once in Canada, those Ukrainian refugees will certainly be able to apply for permanent residency and any work experience they gain or studying they do while in the country will only enhance their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) scores should they decide to complete Express Entry profiles and apply for permanent residency.
Russian President Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine on Feb. 24 and quickly struck the country with a full military onslaught. Video coming out of Ukraine shows the full extent of the devastation as nothing seems to be spared from the Russian air missile attacks, not even maternity wards and civilians.
Five million Ukrainian civilians have fled their homes and country, most seeking refuge in adjoining countries with some moving to safer cities in other regions of Ukraine.
This week, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced yet another initiative to help to flee Ukrainians come to Canada, a partnership with Air Canada to provide free flights to Canada for at least 10,000 Ukrainians.
The free flights are being made possible by the donation of 100 million Aeroplan points by Air Canada and a pledge to match donations of other Aeroplan points, up to 50 million points, by The Shapiro Foundation.
Free Flights Offered Under Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund
“Canadians from coast to coast have stepped up to support Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war,” tweeted Fraser. “Today, we announced the Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund, an initiative with @miles4migrants, @AirCanada and The Shapiro Foundation that will help thousands of Ukrainians come to Canada.”
Under the program to offer free flights to Ukrainian refugees, Canadians can donate their Aeroplan points through the Air Canada Foundation Ukrainian Relief Fund and Miles4Migrants websites. Canadians who would like to donate cash can do so through the Travel & Settlement Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto which will distribute these donations to sponsor displaced Ukrainians.
Canada’s largesse in accepting an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees is getting backlash on social media. While some denizens of the Twitterverse it as a great humanitarian effort, others are slamming it as preferential treatment for a largely-Caucasian population of refugees in Europe.
“Free flights! Free entry! And the rest of immigration applicants, including refugees, are struggling with their applications!” tweeted one social media user. “Racism and discrimination in their worst forms!”
“And what about the thousands of refugees fleeing in the rest of the countries, especially Turkey?” tweeted another.
On social media, though, most seem to support Canada’s efforts to help Ukrainian refugees with some going so far as to suggest host countries could encourage their citizens to learn a bit of Ukrainian to make the newcomers feel welcome.
“Wouldn’t it be great if loads of us did this,” tweeted one man. “Just even to have a few words and phrases for interactions with Ukrainians … Small things have a massive impact.”
Among the new immigration measures announced since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war are:
- a dedicated service channel for Ukraine enquiries that will be available for clients both in Canada and abroad at 613-321-4243, with collect calls accepted. In addition, clients can now add the keyword “Ukraine2022” to the IRCC Webform with their enquiry and their e-mail will be prioritized;
- urgent processing of travel documents, including issuing single-journey travel documents for immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents who do not have valid passports;
- an updated web page to provide current information on measures. This page will include content in Ukrainian for ease of reference;
- permission for Ukrainians currently in Canada to extend their stay or stay longer in Canada by prioritizing the renewal of work and study permits, and extending a policy that allows individuals to apply for a work permit from within Canada. This policy would allow temporary residents who receive a job offer to remain in Canada and start working while they wait for their work permit application to be processed, and;
- the issuance of open work permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada and cannot go home, so they can stay longer if they wish. Fees are being waived, retroactive to Feb. 22, for certain travel and immigration documents, such as Canadian passports, permanent resident travel documents, proofs of citizenship, visitor visas, and work and study permits.