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Federal government announces additional measures for people fleeing Ukraine

Ottawa, April 10: The federal government has announced additional measures to help refugees trying to flee Ukraine and come to Canada.

Speaking at the Global Citizen-organized social media rally Stand Up for Ukraine on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a series of measures to make it easier for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion come to Canada.

These measures include charter flights to Canada for Ukrainians, short-term income support to help ensure their basic needs are met for six weeks, as well as temporary hotel accommodation for up to two weeks.

Minister of Transport of Canada Omar Alghabra said during a virtual press conference on Saturday the federal government is in the process of finalizing the details with Canadian airlines on the number of flights that will be chartered, as well as their pick-up points for refugees.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser said Canada will also exempt biometrics — fingerprints and identification photos — for Ukrainian refugees under the age of 18, over the age of 60 and those with previous Canadian visas that have no immigration issues. He said the government is making the move to “reduce the pressure on biometrics collection.”

Fraser said the government continues to prioritize the issuing of Canadian passport and travel documents, proofs of citizenship, and visas, as well as student and work permit applications for Ukrainian nationals in Ukraine.

Fraser added that the Government of Canada is also working to help facilitate travel for those Ukrainian refugees who may not have travel documents.

“This means that for family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents currently residing in Ukraine who don’t hold valid travel documents IRCC can issues single journey travel documents on an exceptional basis to support their travel to Canada,” Fraser said.

Since the CUAET program launched last month, Fraser said the federal government has approved over 30,000 applications from Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada under the program. He noted that this number is in addition “to the thousands” of applicants who were approved under different, pre-existing programs.

According to the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian government had received nearly 60,000 applications as of March 26. The minister had previously stated there will be no limit on the number of applications that will be accepted.

The CUAET program, which the federal government launched on March 17, is designed to create an “expedited pathway” for temporary residence within Canada and involves streamlining current visa and travel requirements, removing most fees, and providing expedited processing.

With the CUAET, Ukrainians and their family members can stay in Canada as temporary residents for three years. Those who arrive through this stream will also be eligible for an open work permit allowing employment with almost any employer in Canada for up to three years. The federal government is urging Canadian employers to register job offers with Job Bank’s Jobs for Ukraine webpage in order to hire displaced Ukrainians.

The government also recently expanded its settlement supports for Ukrainian refugees, offering “key services” to help them settle into their new communities including language training, information about life in Canada, employment aid and services for women, seniors, youth and LGBTQ+ individuals.

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