Canada’s Ukraine visa program is set to expire this month. Will Ottawa extend it? – National

Canada’s immigration minister will “soon” have an update on the future of an emergency visa program for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war as calls grow for the government to announce an extension.

The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program (CUAET), which expedites visas and temporary residency permits for Ukrainians and their families, is set to expire March 31.

Read more:

One year on, Ukrainians in Canada reflect on Russia’s war: ‘You feel like a traitor’

The lack of a firm commitment that the program will continue beyond that date is creating uncertainty and even panic among Ukrainians who are still looking to come to Canada, advocates say.

“We’ve seen an increase in numbers (of Ukrainians) arriving, particularly in Toronto, as Ukrainians get very nervous about the possibility of this program ending,” said Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director and CEO of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which has been lobbying the government to extend the program.

Story continues below advertisement

“We haven’t had anybody in the government tell us that it is ending, but we haven’t had anybody in the government tell us that it is being extended.”

Since January 2022, 177,958 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada, including CUAET applicants and returning Canadian permanent residents. At least 590,000 applications through the CUAET program have been approved out of 900,000 that have been received.

Click to play video: 'Volunteer group helping Ukrainian refugees makes plea for host families'

Volunteer group helping Ukrainian refugees makes plea for host families

On Wednesday, Conservative MPs including shadow immigration minister Tom Kmiec wrote to Immigration Minister Sean Fraser calling for an extension to be announced “without delay,” reminding him that the war is far from over.

The letter, a copy of which was shared with Global News, also pointed out Eastern European nations such as Poland have accepted far more people fleeing the war due to their proximity to Ukraine, and that Western nations like Canada have a duty to help ease the strain on those countries.

Story continues below advertisement

“We cannot simply abandon Ukrainian civilians fleeing the war and we can and must continue to support our allies in the region who have taken on a greater burden due to their geographical proximity in helping war refugees,” the letter says.

“We urge you not to leave Ukrainians in the dark regarding your plans with this program.”

Read more:

A year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has Canada done enough to help?

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for Fraser’s office on Thursday hinted at an imminent announcement regarding the CUAET program, but did not provide specifics.

“Minister Fraser remains engaged with stakeholders, Members of Parliament and community members, and looks forward to providing an update on this soon,” Bahoz Dara Aziz said in an email.

In their letter, the Conservative MPs highlight the large discrepancy between the number of CUAET applications received and how many Ukrainians have actually arrived in Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has previously told Global News some of the approved applicants who have not arrived in Canada have chosen to stay closer to home instead, and may have forgotten to withdraw their applications.

Click to play video: 'Flexibility key to helping Ukrainian refugees in Canada: Fraser'

Flexibility key to helping Ukrainian refugees in Canada: Fraser

Michalchyshyn doesn’t dispute the explanation, but notes that because Canada has not provided charter flights from Ukraine since the early months of the war, applicants are forced to fund their own trips to Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

He also pointed to delays in biometric screening that can slow down entry times, an issue that has plagued other emergency refugee programs like the one designed to evacuate people out of Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover.

Until an extension is announced, Michalchyshyn said the UCC and other advocates will continue to apply pressure on the Canadian government to act.

“As long as the war continues, we know the need continues,” he said. “It’s clear that the number of people in need isn’t going to change on March 31 or April 1.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source link

Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.