Immigration minister, Hon’ble Sean Fraser provided an update on IRCC’s response to Ukrainian applicants on February 25. This update was provided along with Canadian PM, Hon’ble Justin Trudeau announcing 3rd set of sanctions on Russia and including Belarus in it. Mr. Fraser informed that IRCC has been working on responding to the situation since January 19 and already increased the resources at Warsaw, Vienna, and Bucharest offices. Furthermore, they are also preparing London for an influx of digital applications.
Apart from this, he answered following two important questions by the reporters/journalists:
- How will Ukrainians be able to send their papers or send their passport to get visa?
- Will IRCC remove visa requirements for Ukrainians planning to come to Canada?
Minister also answered how this is different from the situation in Afghanistan. He also added the measures already taken by IRCC and future ongoing discussions.
You can read the full transcript below the following advertisement.
Sean Fraser: As the prime minister said we’ve been preparing for weeks. Since January 19th, we have been launching our operational readiness. We started by beefing up resources in our Warsaw, Vienna, Bucharest offices and preparing London for an influx of additional digital applications.
We also on the same day started prioritizing applications that were already in our inventory and have so far had in excess of 2000 applications approved from Ukrainians who had some sort of an application within IRCC.
Just the other day we launched a dedicated services channel so Ukrainians, who are seeking to take advantage of certain programs can reach us more quickly by phone, by web form use. If you are using the web form I would urge you to use the keywords Ukraine 2022 and your email will be prioritized.
We’ve also launched new measures already for Ukrainians who are already in Canada that will make it easier for them to stay by extending their temporary status and issuing work permits to them so they can provide for themselves while they are here. We have taken nothing off the table for looking for additional solutions as we will be looking to do the very Canadian thing of helping those in need and in particular the people of Ukraine who have some of the strongest people-to-people ties of any country in the world, when I look at the fact that there are more than one million Ukrainians in Canada.
Today, this is something that we should do and it’s something that we will do.
Reporter Question: Can you tell me more about the delays, I mean for someone who is in the Ukraine for now, like people need to send papers or send their passport in order to get the visa so the consular services are in Poland now, so how will the Ukrainian do this technically?
Sean Fraser: Yes and I say that not, not because I’m an optimist by nature but because we’ve been preparing for more than a month now. As I mentioned during a previous answer, we started an internal task force within IRCC on January 19th. To identify how we could boost our resources originally in Ukraine at both, our Kiev and Lviv locations.
But then by providing additional resources to Warsaw, Bucharest and Vienna with some additional preparation in London. This included getting large volumes of the materials that we need to pretend to print travel documents. And making sure that we’re prepared to process and print them and deliver them in an urgent way.
I do have confidence that we’re prepared to deal with this more quickly than we have ever before. And, because we’ve been preparing for a number of weeks. I feel that we’re well equipped to deal with a potential influx of applications in a short period of time.
Reporter Question: Are you considering lifting the visa requirements for Ukrainians who would like to come to Canada? Is there any target set for number of Ukrainians?
Sean Fraser: Right now, we are looking at every option. We’ve considered a number of different angles that we can look at this including uh by engaging members of the Ukrainian Canadian community to examine what the right approach will be. I do want to reiterate though that there are significant measures that have already been put in place. And, I just do want to address uh one of the questions that came up previously in respect to one of the challenges that we found uh compared to Afghanistan. And I want to credit uh minister Jolie who’s in the room with you there.
One of the pinch points in Afghanistan, involves very different facts where the Taliban have seized control. And have prevented us from securing safe passage outside of the country for vulnerable people, who are inside Afghanistan. We’ve made a commitment to with the situation in Ukraine. The west minister Jolie has already secured agreements to secure the safe passage of Canadian citizens and permanent residents with Moldova, Slovakia and Poland, Romania and Hungary.
With respect to your question about visa requirements. There’s different options that we are looking at whether it’s family reunification and sponsorship. Whether it’s different existing programs that we can make more flexible. Or whether it’s a refugee response or some combination there of.
But I do want to reiterate for those who may be eligible for the measures that we’ve already implemented. If you have an application in the inventory or make one now it will be treated on a priority basis. If you are someone who is in Ukraine or in Canada from Ukraine. Now we will be extending your temporary status and issuing you a work permit.
We’re going to have more to say on the different measures which we’re going to be implementing in the days and weeks ahead. I would urge you to continue to look for reliable information through government of Canada channels. To understand exactly what what shape these measures are going to take in the next few days.
Reporter Question: And as for a target of the number of Ukrainians, we could welcome here in Canada. I didn’t hear you say one earlier when you were asked by my coworker.
Sean Fraser: Uh look we haven’t established uh uh yet an official target for the number. I think we’re going to be looking at the circumstances as they continue to unfold. But I would remind folks in addition to any special measures that we may be advancing in the near future. There are also existing measures that Ukrainians qualify for through Canada’s ordinary immigration streams that will be processed in an expedited way.
So I would urge those who have questions about Canada’s immigration programs to use the web form. To use the dedicated service channel that we’ve established by email or by phone. So, you can flag your interest in participating in some of these immigration programs and we will have more to say this in the very near future.