The federal government will give Ukrainians overseas until mid-July to apply for a free temporary visa to Canada under an emergency program put in place last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine..
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser announced Wednesday that Ukrainians and their family members have until July 15 to apply for a visitor visa, without having to pay a fee, under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program.
After that date, standard fees and requirements will apply. The previous deadline was March 31.
The program allows Ukrainians to stay in Canada for up to three years and allows them to work and study while here. The standard period for a visitor visa is six months, with fees starting at $100.
“We remain committed to helping those fleeing Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. We continue working to provide Ukrainians with a temporary safe haven and the vital settlement services and support them need to thrive in communities across Canada,” Fraser said in a news release .
“Canada will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine, including those who’ve been forced to flee Russia’s senseless invasion.”
The federal government announced the creation of the emergency travel program in March 2022. It is one of two immigration streams announced for Ukrainians, the other helping those looking to stay permanently in Canada.
Between March 17, 2022, and March 16, 2023, Canada received nearly 944,000 applications under the emergency travel program, of which more than 616,000 have been approved. More than 133,000 people have arrived in Canada as of March 16.
Any Ukrainian with an emergency visa will have until March 31, 2024, to travel to Canada. Visa holders already in Canada can also extend or change their temporary status, free of charge, until that date.
The federal government will accept applications for one-time financial support, meant to help emergency visa holders transition to Canada, until June 30, 2024.
Up to two weeks of temporary accommodation will also be available until April 14, 2024.
Asked why the federal government had set a deadline for emergency visa applications before the war ended, Fraser told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday that Canada would continue to monitor the situation in Ukraine.
Part of the reason for setting time limits, he added, is to help manage the country’s immigration system.
“So people who are thinking about coming here, who may be concerned about the situation on the ground, I’d encourage them to apply,” Fraser said.
“But we will make decisions based on the conditions on the ground as things progress and we understand what policies may be required to continue to support Ukraine, given what they may be dealing with in the future.”
Fraser also said that using a modified version of the country’s tourism system, as opposed to refugee resettlement, means there is no limit to how many people the federal government can process in a given year.
“By moving towards a temporary humanitarian visa, we’ve been able to help significantly larger numbers of people than would have otherwise been the case,” he said.
“I’m actually quite pleased with the results despite some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way, because we now have a model that can offer temporary protection where it did not exist before. I hope that this can be applied in other circumstances when people do flee a situation that demands temporary protection.”