Canada has undertaken significant efforts to assist those fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, including introducing two new programs to facilitate temporary residence applications for Ukrainians and expediting the processing of all immigration applications made by Ukrainian nationals.
One of these new programs is the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET), a simplified visa application process that requires completion of a short online application form and has more flexible documentation requirements. CUAET applicants are also eligible to simultaneously apply for an open work permit so that they may work for nearly any employer while in Canada. The federal government has also announced plans to create an expedited family sponsorship program so that Canadians can sponsor extended Ukrainian family members for permanent residence in Canada, however the details of this program have not been announced as of the date of this column’s writing.
Though these efforts have greatly aided Ukrainians in finding safety in Canada, there remain significant challenges and barriers to entry for many Ukrainians.
First and foremost, the Canadian government has maintained the requirement that all applicants have their biometrics collected at a Canadian visa application centre (VAC) abroad. However, the VACs in Ukraine have been closed since the start of the conflict, meaning that those currently in Ukraine must enter a third country to have biometrics collected. Applicants within Ukraine can request to have the biometrics requirement waived if they can demonstrate that they pose a low security risk to Canada, but it is still unclear how this can be established and how frequently the Canadian authorities are accepting these biometrics exemption requests.
This added barrier of requiring applicants to enter a third country poses additional challenges for many families, as Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 have been prohibited from leaving Ukraine. This leaves families with an incredibly difficult decision – either stay united in Ukraine or have the women and children within the family leave Ukraine on their own without their partner/co-parent. This places a significant additional challenge for women seeking to flee Ukraine for Canada, as they must flee Ukraine and resettle in a foreign country, while guiding their children through the same, without the support of their male partners, co-parents, and family members.
Though this biometrics requirement may seem like a minor, standard application, this requirement has a disproportionate and significant effect on the lives of women and their families as they seek to flee Ukraine for Canada. There will likely be a great need within the community to provide support to Ukrainian women who are experiencing the stress and hardship of parenting on their own while resettling in Canada.
If you or someone you know is a Ukrainian seeking to reside in Canada, or if you know a Ukrainian who has recently resettled in Canada, there is support available. The Government of Canada has made resources available to support Ukrainians before and after their arrival in Canada, including settlement support services in language training, school registration, and how to find a job. IRCC has established a dedicated service channel for Ukraine immigration enquiries available for clients both in Canada and abroad at 613-321-4243, with collect calls accepted. More information can be found online at: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2022/03/canada-expands-settlement-support-for-ukrainians-coming-to-canada.html
Immigrant Women Services Ottawa
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