VISAS & Refugee Process from Inside Canada
This is just a short summary because there has been a lot of misleading information on social media and the Internet in general.
Currently there is no special program in Canada for people affected by the war in Ukraine.
When you call our government phone line specifically established for dealing with the situation in Ukraine, they will advise you to complete the application form to apply as refugee from abroad. I would not advise you to do so. To be eligible as a refugee, you must:
If your relatives are outside Canada and follow this route, their refugee claim will be sent to the first country available to take refugees, and believe me this will not be the country you would prefer.
Another alternative for your relatives is to come to Canada as a visitor and, depending on the development of the current situation, decide whether to apply as a refugee.
Currently, the Canadian government gives an option for Ukrainians with temporary status to obtain a work permit which is great. For a lot of people, who love Ukraine, new immigration measures give an opportunity to stay in Canada temporarily without applying for asylum. Asylum or refugee claim would be a forced measure for them only in case if the war persists (and I hope it does not).
Your relatives in Ukraine will need a visa to travel to Canada, so apply for a visa.
If your relatives cross the border to Poland or Romania and register as refugee/make a refugee claim there, it will be much more difficult if not impossible to win a refugee case in Canada.
There is no need for a Ukrainian to register as a refugee in the EU countries currently, as they have a right to stay for 90 days as visitors, so do not register as refugees.
For Ukrainians that have obtained a visa and decided to make a refugee claim, the process starts once they board a flight to Canada. They can either make a claim when they land at the Canadian airport or apply for refugee claim online later on.
It's faster to make a refugee claim at the airport: tell the border officer that you want to make a refugee claim, ask for an interpreter, most applications will be completed with the interpreter right away, mention that you need a work permit. The border officer will take your passport, provide you a certified copy of the passport and ask you to come to an interview in a few weeks at the Airport road.
If you are arriving to Lester B. Pearson International Airport, you will need to bring your "refugee story" to the Airport road in Mississauga (please hire a lawyer for this part of the process, as it will make or break your case during the refugee claim hearing). Please do not provide any additional documents to the immigration/border officers without first consulting with a lawyer!
This page will be updated if our Minister of Immigration provides some update to simplify this process, but do not hope to be able to travel to Canada without a visa, please.
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