Ukraine: Updated measures and guidance regarding Ukrainian nationals wishing to visit or to remain in Canada

Editor's Note

This article is sponsored by Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. 

Please note the following is provided as information only. We have tried to be current and accurate. The response to the crisis in Ukraine requires that the government of Canada modifies and makes changes to immigration program requirements, which changes are occurring quickly and frequently. This is not a legal opinion about any particular case or circumstances.

Current Situation: in order to visit Canada, all nationals of Ukraine require a Canadian Visitor Visa (also called a “temporary resident visa” - TRV) and to provide their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo).

In response to Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, on March 17th, 2022, the Government of Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET). This program continues to prioritize the processing of applications for people with a primary residence in Ukraine and their immediate family members who want to travel to Canada (travelling alone or with other family members), and to reunite with family members in Canada. It is expected that this will be the “fastest, safest, and most efficient way for Ukrainians to come to Canada and will eliminate many of the usual visa requirements”. There will be no limit on the number of people who are eligible.

IRCC has also established two channels dedicated to Ukraine enquiries for persons both in Canada and abroad: via phone 613-321-4243 and at the IRCC Webform, by adding the keyword “Ukraine2022.

To ease the burden on applicants, IRCC is waiving all application fees for these applications made both inside and outside of Canada.

For applicants outside of Canada, the CUAET will provide successful applicants with a visitor visa to come to Canada temporarily, until it is safe to return to Ukraine. These applications will be fee exempt, be valid for up to three years, and will allow travel in and out of Canada as long as the visa is valid. IRCC is also encouraging applicants to apply for a 3-year open work permit at the same time. Elementary and high school students can also register for and start attending school as soon as they arrive.

For applications made inside Canada, the CUAET allows Ukrainian workers, students and visitors and their family members to extend their visitor status or work permit for 3 years and apply for a new work or study permit.

All applications for the CUAET require biometrics (i.e. a photo and digital fingerprints). The biometrics requirement has been amended but not lifted. IRCC has stated that they have taken steps to increase operational readiness in the region, which includes providing additional supplies and equipment, such as mobile biometric collection kits, due to the large increase in the volume of applications. The biometrics fee ($85 per applicant) has been waived for these applications.

Medical exams will not be required before coming to Canada. However, successful applicants may need a chest x-ray and a blood test within 90 days of arriving. Instructions about this will be provided upon arrival in Canada.

A valid Ukrainian passport or another national identity document is required for the application. It is also possible to customize any application with additional documents in order to make such application stronger. If possible, we recommend including documents that show financial support to the Ukrainian national visitors during their stay in Canada which may be provided by relatives or friends residing in Canada (e.g: a letter of support, together with banking information/statements).

Family members (spouse or common law partner and dependant children) of Ukrainian nationals will need to provide proof of their relationship to the applicant. Documents may include a marriage certificate or proof of common- law status (documents showing a shared address), birth certificate or other documents showing an immediate family connection.

It is also worthy to note that some nationals of Ukraine in Canada (or who arrive in Canada in the coming days and weeks) may be eligible to and may wish to make refugee claims. These persons must be able to demonstrate that they have a reasonable fear of harm if returned to Ukraine based upon one or more grounds contained in the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees or are persons in need of protection.

Ukrainians and their family members are exempt from Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination entry requirements. However, for unvaccinated travellers, all other public health requirements for travel, including mandatory quarantine, testing and using ArriveCAN to submit your travel and quarantine plans must be followed. When IRCC issues a visa, they will also provide a letter to confirm an exemption from the travel restrictions. This letter should be brought with the applicant when they travel to Canada.

Planned situation:

There will also be a “special family reunification sponsorship pathway for permanent residence”, which the Government of Canada will unveil in the coming weeks.

IRCC is working around the clock to help Ukrainians and their families get to Canada as quickly and safely as possible.

Please follow the links below for further information regarding these special measures and how to apply:

Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET) applications can be filed online via the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) portal: https://ircc.canada.ca/visit-visiter/en/get-account-ircc-portal

Information about the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees- citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/ukraine-measures/cuaet.html

Apply for the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel:

https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees- citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/ukraine-measures/portal-application- ukraine-cuaet.html

For customized professional assistance on any particular case or situation, please consult qualified legal representation, which we are authorized and specialized to provide.

Please contact Warren Creates, head of immigration at Perley- Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/srl at (613)238-2022 and/or wcreates@perlaw.ca.