Ottawa creates new permanent residence pathway for Ukrainians, signs Canada-U.K. youth mobility deal

By Cristin Schmitz

Law360 Canada (July 17, 2023, 2:30 PM EDT) -- Ottawa is creating “a new pathway” to permanent residence for Ukrainian nationals here in Canada with temporary resident status who have one or more family members who are Canadians or permanent residents.

On July 15, the federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that, starting Oct. 23, the new application route for Ukrainians will provide permanent residence to people who have fled Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine and who want to stay in Canada.

IRCC said it will provide more details closer to the program’s fall launch, but Ukrainian nationals here with temporary resident status who will be eligible for permanent residence via this route include “Ukrainian spouses, common-law partners, parents, grandparents, siblings and children or grandchildren of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.”

The federal government said the new pathway to permanent residence for Ukrainians requires no financial undertaking and families will have until Oct. 22, 2024, to apply. “More detailed information, including how to submit an application, will be made available closer to the launch of the program,” IRCC said.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser

The immigration department noted the new route to permanent residence here for Ukrainians “will not have an impact on the number of spaces available through the Parents and Grandparents Program.” Ukrainians accepted under the new permanent residence pathway will be in addition to any family members who come to Canada through the parents and grandparents program, the department said.

In a separate July 14 announcement, IRCC said that Canada and the United Kingdom have signed a new youth mobility arrangement.

The arrangement, which Ottawa and the U.K. anticipate will kick in in 2024, will expand reciprocal work opportunities for more youths in each country for a longer period of time, through International Experience Canada (IEC) and the U.K.’s Youth Mobility Scheme.

“The new arrangement builds on an existing youth mobility partnership that began in 2008 and includes a number of improvements,” IRCC said, pointing to: the expansion of the eligibility age range to 18 to 35 (up from age 30); the addition of  two new streams — International Co-op (Internship) and Young Professionals — “to complement the existing Working Holiday category for UK nationals visiting Canada;” and the increase to three years from two the total period of time that participants can stay in the foreign country.

In its announcement about Ukraine, IRCC noted that more than 166,000 Ukrainians have found temporary safe haven in Canada under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) that was launched in March 2022. Ottawa received 1,100,403 individual applications under CUAET between March 17, 2022, and July 1, 2023, of which 793,804 have been approved thus far, the immigration department said.

“Now, we are introducing ongoing support for those who want to come to Canada, and for those who want to stay here permanently with their family,” IRCC said of the new family reunification pathway to permanent residence.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said in a July 15 statement that Canada is continuing to “extend unwavering support and a lifeline” to Ukrainian families separated by Russia’s illegal war of aggression on Ukraine, including through this new family reunification pathway to permanent residence “that will help Ukrainian families stay together as they rebuild their lives in their new communities in Canada. This continued support builds on our steadfast commitment to help Ukrainians find a safe haven and provide them with the assistance they need.”

IRCC said Ukrainians holding a CUAET visa have until March 31, 2024 to travel to Canada under the temporary special measures.

“Following the end of overseas applications under CUAET on July 15, 2023, Ukrainians and their family members can still apply for a temporary resident visa to come to Canada, under pre-existing immigration measures,” the department said.

IRCC noted that once in Canada, Ukrainian 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.”

In its international youth mobility announcement, the federal immigration department noted that the IEC allows Canadian and international youth to work and travel in each other’s country, under three categories.

Working Holiday participants receive an open work permit that allows them to work anywhere in the host country to support their travels.

International Co-op (internship) participants receive an employer-specific work permit that allows students to gain targeted experience in their field of study.

Young Professional participants receive an employer-specific work permit to gain targeted professional work experience within their field of study or career path.

IRCC said Canada has signed youth mobility agreements or arrangements with 37 countries and foreign territories. For the 2023 season this extends the opportunity to work here to nearly 90,000 international youth from partner countries and territories.

“This expansion will help Canadian employers find the workers they need to ease labour shortages across the country,” the immigration department said.

Nearly one in four Canadians — 8.5 million people — were between the ages of 18 and 35 in Canada in 2021, IRCC said.

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