On March 3, 2022, Canada announced special measures to welcome Ukrainian nationals to Canada as a response to the Russian invasion to Ukraine. These special measures are called the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel Program, or CUETA.
Who is eligible?
If Outside Canada:
Immediate family members of Ukranian citizens of any nationality
If Inside Canada:
Ukrainian citizens who are already on temporary resident status
Immediate family members of Ukrainian citizens of any nationality who are already on temporary resident status
In this category, eligible applicants can either apply to extend their current visitor status or current work permit, or they can apply for a new visitor visa and/or open work permit if they do not already hold one.
Eligible Ukrainian nationals do NOT have to have a valid passport to apply. Family members of Ukrainian nationals of different nationalities must have a valid passport to apply.
Eligible applicants do NOT need to meet vaccination entry requirements. In other words, Ukrainian nationals and their family members do not need to be vaccinated to enter Canada.
What can eligible people apply for?
Visitor visas – valid for 3 years
A visitor visa is required for Ukraine nationals to enter Canada.
Some family members of Ukrainian nationals may not need a visitor visa to enter Canada if they have a different nationality. To find out whether you need a visa to enter Canada, a guide is available here.
Open work permits – valid for 3 years
An open work permit will enable Ukrainian nationals and their family members to legally work in any occupation while in Canada.
Post-Secondary Study permits – valid for period of study
Elementary and high school students can start attending school once they arrive in Canada. They do not need to apply for a study permit from overseas.
The cost of these application are free, but there may be fees associated with Visa Application Centres, explained below.
How do I apply?
If you are applying without an authorized representative such as a lawyer or immigration consultant, eligible applicants must apply online using the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) portal available here.
Using the portal, eligible applicants can apply for a visitor visa and an open work permit at the same time, in one application. Families can apply together in one application.
After applying, eligible applicants will receive a letter from IRCC requesting that they provide biometrics at a Visa Application Centre (VAC). Biometrics mean they will take a copy of your fingerprints and a photo of you.
You can find a list of Visa Application Centres located near you here
There are also temporary biometrics sites located in Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czech Republic.
You may need to make an appointment at a VAC before appearing with your biometrics request letter.
Family members do not have to apply together with their Ukrainian national family members, but they must show proof of relationship to a Ukrainian national, for example a birth certificate listing Ukrainian parents, a marriage certificate listing a Ukranian spouse, and the identity documents of those family members which show their nationality, such as a passport.
After biometrics, when your application is granted, you must return to a VAC to provide your passport. The VAC will send your passport to the closest Canadian embassy to insert the visitor visa into the passport. The passport will then be returned to you. There may be courier fees and VAC fees associated with this process.
Certain groups are exempted from providing biometrics, including:
Persons 17 years old and younger;
Persons 60 years old and over;
Persons with previously approved visas without prior immigration issues.
What is the processing time?
The CUETA special measures is a temporary residence program. Therefore, eligible applicants will not automatically be eligible for universal health care.
However, open work permit holders will be entitled to provincial health care in certain circumstances.
Health care eligibility varies by province.
In Ontario, open work permit holders are become entitled to health care after six months of full-time work in Ontario.
In Quebec, all newly arrived Ukranian nationals are invited to apply for provincial health care.
Are there any options to remain in Canada permanently?
Once inside Canada, eligible applicants may consider regular pathways to permanent residency, such as:
An application for permanent residency on humanitarian and compassionate grounds
The Government of Canada has stated that they are developing a new pathway to permanent residency for Ukranian nationals based on family reunification, but no details have been announced to date.
There may be other existing pathways to permanent residency available based on your specific situation. You may consult with us or other experienced immigration counsel to find out more information.
Can we contact IRCC?
IRCC has created a dedicated call centre for Ukrainian clients, available at +1 613-321-4242
Ukranian clients can also contact IRCC via their crisis webform. Add the keyword “Ukraine2022” to the description box to ensure your query is prioritized.