In a heartfelt response to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has taken swift action under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET). The latest update as of February 2, 2024, reveals a remarkable milestone – IRCC has approved a staggering 958,190 applications out of the 1,189,320 received, providing a beacon of hope for Ukrainian nationals.
CUAET Measures and Approvals
The CUAET measures, initiated on March 17, 2022, were a lifeline for many Ukrainians seeking refuge from the conflict. The last application date for a visitor visa outside Canada under the CUAET measures was July 15, 2023. Since then, IRCC has welcomed 221,231 Ukrainians to Canada under this program, reflecting the urgency and impact of the initiative.
Anticipating a Wave of Arrivals
As we approach the end of March 2024, a deadline set for those escaping violence to enter Canada on temporary emergency visas, expectations run high. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are anticipated to arrive, seeking refuge from the turmoil fueled by the Russian invasion. Ottawa has issued 936,293 emergency visas since March 2022 for Ukrainians looking to work or study in Canada during this challenging period.
As of November 28, 2023, 210,178 individuals have successfully made the journey to Canada. With over 90,000 emergency visa holders contemplating their relocation, according to pre-arrival surveys by IRCC and Operation Ukraine Safe Haven, the nation is gearing up for a significant influx.
Manitoba’s Humanitarian Efforts
Manitoba, in particular, has been a welcoming home for over 20,000 Ukrainians since the conflict’s onset. Joanne Lewandosky, a representative of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress Manitoba Provincial Council, acknowledges the challenges these newcomers face. “They’re running from a war. It’s traumatic. They’re leaving their friends, they’re leaving their home,” she empathetically remarks. The Operation Ukraine Safe Haven project serves as a coordinated effort to support the post-arrival phase for displaced Ukrainians in Canada.
Challenges and Triumphs in Resettlement
Despite the tremendous support from communities, businesses, and organizations, challenges persist. The second anniversary of the Russian invasion marks a shift in public interest, and support mechanisms, although initially robust, have weakened. Sarosh Rizvi, the executive director of Operation Ukraine Safe Haven, notes the resource-intensive and emotionally distressing nature of this relocation decision.
Randall Baran-Chong, founder of Pathfinder for Ukraine, emphasizes the importance of adaptability, family ties, language proficiency, work willingness, and financial support for success in Canada. As the March 31 deadline approaches, individuals arriving afterward will still be welcome but without the three-year work or study permit and associated financial or settlement supports.
Looking Ahead: IRCC’s Ongoing Support
IRCC remains proactive in assisting Ukrainians, introducing new immigration streams, and expanding settlement services. The dedication to humanitarian efforts underscores Canada’s commitment to providing a haven for those affected by global crises.
The approval of over 950,000 CUAET applications by IRCC since March 2022 stands as a testament to Canada’s compassion and commitment to humanitarian values. As the nation prepares to welcome more Ukrainians seeking refuge, the support from government initiatives, community efforts, and the resilience of the newcomers themselves will play a pivotal role in shaping their journey to a new home.