US And Canada Announce New Programs For Ukrainian Refugees

“In just seven days, one million people have fled Ukraine, uprooted by this senseless war.” That is how UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi summarized the situation in his recent statement. He continued by saying, “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one. Hour by hour, minute by minute, more people are fleeing the terrifying reality of violence. Countless have been displaced inside the country. And unless there is an immediate end to the conflict, millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine.”

Grandi added, “Despite the extraordinary pace and challenges, the response from governments and local communities in receiving this one million refugees has been remarkable.” In the case of the United States and Canada, several new programs have just been announced.

The United States

The United States announced that the Temporary Protected Status program will now apply to Ukrainians in the USA for the next 18 months. In making the announcement Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said, “Russia’s premeditated and unprovoked attack on Ukraine has resulted in an ongoing war, senseless violence, and Ukrainians forced to seek refuge in other countries.” The TPS designation is based on both ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary and temporary conditions in Ukraine that prevent Ukrainian nationals, and those of no nationality who last habitually resided in Ukraine, from returning to Ukraine safely. These conditions resulted from the full-scale Russian military invasion into Ukraine, which marks the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II. This invasion has caused a humanitarian crisis with significant numbers of individuals fleeing and damage to civilian infrastructure that has left nearly a million individuals without electricity or water or access to food, basic supplies, shelter, and emergency medical services.

The announcement indicated that “Individuals eligible for TPS under this designation must have continuously resided in the United States since March 1, 2022. Individuals who attempt to travel to the United States after March 1, 2022, will not be eligible for TPS. Ukraine’s 18-month designation will go into effect on the publication date of the upcoming Federal Register notice. the Federal Register notice will provide instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). TPS applicants must meet all eligibility requirements and undergo security and background checks.”

For more about the TPS program see the video here.

Canadian Programs

Meanwhile Canada has also announced some new programs dealing with Ukrainian refugees. In a new statement, Canadian Minister of Immigration Sean Fraser said, “I am inspired by the courage Ukrainians have displayed as they uphold the democratic ideals that we cherish in Canada. While they defend themselves against Putin’s costly war of aggression, we will provide safe haven to those who fled to protect themselves and their families. Canadians stand with Ukrainians in their time of need and we will welcome them with open arms.”

For Ukrainians who want to come to Canada temporarily, Canada will soon create a Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel, available for individuals fleeing Ukraine. There will be no limit to the number of Ukrainians who can apply. The announcement states, “This is the fastest, safest, and most efficient way for Ukrainians to come to Canada and eliminates many of the normal visa requirements. All Ukrainian nationals will be able to apply through this new path, and, pending background check and security screening, their stay in Canada could be extended by at least 2 years.” The program is expected to open in two weeks.

Canada is also looking at creating a new family reunification sponsorship program for immediate and extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents leading to permanent residence. The program will be developed over the next few weeks.

The statement concludes that “All Ukrainians who come to Canada as part of these measures will be eligible to apply for open work permits, making it easier for employers to quickly hire Ukrainian nationals.” In addition, as previously announced, Canada will issue open work permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada and cannot safely go home.”

In the days ahead, the exodus of Ukrainian refugees from that country is expected to grow to the point where several million people will be swept up in the building momentum. Extraordinary acts of courage in the case of Ukrainians, and compassion in the case of countries and people outside of Ukraine, have been witnessed. The war is putting on display both the worst, but also the best of humanity. Not since World War II have so many lives been crushed or impacted in such a violent and sudden manner.

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