Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, millions of Ukranians have left the country in order to seek shelter and safety for themselves and their families. In an effort to provide support to Ukrainians fleeing the war, the Government of Canada introduced the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET). The CUAET is an accelerated temporary residence pathway that allows Ukrainian nationals and their immediate family members to seek refuge in Canada while the war continues. Ukrainians that have applied and arrived in Canada under the CUAET are able to work, study and reside in Canada for up to 3 years. However, as the war shows no signs of ending, the temporary nature of the CUAET has left many Ukrainians anxious about what the future will hold once their temporary status expires.
No permanent solution in sight for CUAET holders
As the war in Ukraine approaches its one-year anniversary, the portal for submitting applications under CUAET remains open. As of January 24, 2023, Canada has received approximately 800,000 applications, of which over 500,000 have been approved.
Many Ukrainians who have arrived in Canada as temporary residents are working in order to support their family members both in Canada and back home in Ukraine. An open work permit allows them to fill the current labour shortage and ultimately contribute to Canada’s economic growth. But as the situation worsens in Ukraine, some are feeling less hopeful about returning home and are instead seeking ways to reunite with their loved ones and stay in Canada permanently.
On March 22, 2023, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC), announced that the Government of Canada will extend the CUAET program and will permit Ukrainians and their family members who are outside of Canada to apply up until July 15, 2023. Those already inside Canada under CUAET will have until March 31, 2024, to extend or adjust their temporary status through these measures. However, the Government of Canada has still not introduced any special pathways to permanent residency for Ukrainians residing in Canada under the CUAET. This is particularly troubling for Ukrainian nationals who have since started to settle into life in Canada and develop a network of community ties through work, school, volunteer and/or social engagements.
Current pathways to permanent residency for Ukrainian nationals
For now, Ukrainian nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada permanently must apply through the existing permanent residency pathways.
Skilled Ukrainian nationals are able to obtain permanent residency via economic programs after arriving in Canada. To do so, they must meet the eligibility requirements under Express Entry (EE) or a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
Express Entry is a federal program which allows applicant’s to create a profile expressing their interest in immigrating to Canada. After completing and submitting the profile, the applicant will get a score which determines their place in the pool using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The system reviews the applicant’s skills, work experience, language ability, education and other factors (e.g., job offer in Canada, sibling in Canada, etc.). IRCC conducts draws periodically and if the applicant’s CRS score is at or above the cut-off, they will receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence.
Given that many Ukrainian nationals are currently working in low skilled jobs due to language barriers or are experiencing delays in having their educational credentials evaluated, it may be difficult to acquire the requisite CRS score needed to apply.
Each Province has its own unique PNP program, so depending on the where the applicant is residing/working/studying, it would be best to look into that particular Provinces’s PNP streams to determine eligibility.
For example, under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) there is applicants who live and work in Alberta and have a job offer from an Alberta employer can apply under the Alberta Opportunity Stream. Applicants mush be working in an eligible occupation, have the requisite work experience, and complete a language test. Another example is Ontario’s Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker PNP stream, under which applicants who have a permanent, full-time job offer in a skilled occupation (TEER 0,1,2,3) and have the requisite work experience (usually two-years) can submit their expression of interest to Ontario and if selected, will apply directly to the province for permanent residence.
Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds
Recognizing the obstacles that Ukrainian nationals may face under economic pathways to permanent residency, our office has explored the possibility of applying for permanent residency under humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds.
The H&C application process is available to anyone who is living in Canada but does not qualify for immigration through any of the regular channels, like Express Entry or via PNP program.
In certain cases, Ukrainian citizens can ask for the Government of Canada to take into account H&C grounds in order to grant permanent residence status to individuals who would otherwise not qualify under any pathway. However, it is important to note that applying for H&C consideration is an exceptional measure and one that is assessed on a case-by-case basis. While the Government of Canada has yet to announce any special pathway to permanent residency for Ukranian nationals who have arrived in Canada via CAUET, our team at Abramovich & Tchern continues to closely monitor the situation for any developments.
In the meantime, if you are a Ukrainian citizen we encourage you to contact our office today to allow us to help you determine which immigration pathways may be available to you.