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Canada to launch new permanent residency program for Ukrainians fleeing war

The federal government has launched a new immigration program for Ukrainians fleeing their embattled country, allowing those in Canada with family to receive permanent resident status.

“We continue to extend unwavering support and a lifeline to families separated by this conflict, including through this family reunification pathway that will help Ukrainian families stay together as they rebuild their lives in their new communities in Canada,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in a statement released Saturday.

Eligibility will be extended to Ukrainians living in Canada with temporary status and with one or more family members in Canada.

The government said more details will be released closer to when the program launches on Oct. 23, 2023. The program will have no cost attached to it and will be in place for one year.

A man in a suit stands at a podium that bears the Ukrainian flag.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser makes an announcement in Ottawa on March 22, 2023. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The announcement Saturday comes on the day the government’s initial emergency immigration program was set to expire.

Under the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET), launched in March 2022, Ukrainians were able to come to Canada and live and work for up to three years. They benefited from a variety of measures meant to speed up the visa process, including prioritized processing and waived fees.

Roughly 166,000 Ukrainians have come to Canada through the special visa program. That’s about 21 per cent of the 800,000 emergency visas granted, from around 1.1 million applications, according to the government.

Ukrainians approved under the CUAET will still be able to travel to Canada up until March 31 of next year. Afterward, they will be subject to the standard immigration measures available to others around the world.

“Once in Canada, temporary residents will be eligible to apply for an extended stay of up to three years through study permits and open work permits, all of which will be prioritized. They will also have access to settlement services, such as language training and employment services. These measures will help them thrive in communities across the country,” the government release said.

Canada has the largest diaspora of Ukrainians outside of Ukraine and Russia, with over 1.4 million people of Ukrainian descent living here, according to government statistics.

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