Ukrainian refugees who sought temporary refuge in Canada can now seek permanent residency starting in the fall.
On Saturday, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser highlighted preliminary details of the initiative Ukrainians have asked about for months.
Commencing on October 23, Ukrainians with temporary resident status and who fled the Russian invasion of their home country can apply for permanent residency, permitting they already have at least one family member in Canada who has Canadian citizenship or is also a permanent resident.
"As we continue to witness the devastating impact of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's illegal invasion, we stand resolute in our condemnation of this senseless violence," Fraser told reporters.
"We continue to extend unwavering support and a lifeline to families separated by this conflict, including through this family reunification pathway that will help Ukrainian families stay together as they rebuild their lives in their new communities in Canada," he said.
While over 1.1 million Ukrainians have applied for temporary residency in Canada, at least 800,000 visas have been approved as of July 1. Of that, about 166,000 Ukrainians have come.
The federal government has given others with approved visas until next March 31 to travel to Canada under the extraordinary measures.
Fraser clarified that Immigration Canada would continue to review emergency visa applications received before the July 15 deadline, free of charge. Successful applicants could work and study in Canada for three years as temporary residents rather than refugees.
Those seeking permanent residency have until the same day to extend or adjust their temporary status, free of charge. While families eligible for Ottawa's new pathway to permanent residency have until October 22, 2024, to apply.
Ukrainian Canadian Congress executive director Ihor Michalchyshyn wrote Immigration Canada on Saturday, requesting more details on its eligibility requirements.
"There are [many] questions for the Ukrainian population looking at these programs," he said. "We were waiting for a family reunification pathway for a long time, so [we're] happy that there's some movement on it…but how it will work is to be determined."
Immigration Canada said they would reveal more information on the program this fall, clarifying the pathway would not impact spaces otherwise promised for other immigration programs.
The United Nations Refugee Agency estimates more than 6.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine, with another five million considered displaced within the war-torn country.
Michalchyshyn articulated that concerns about long-term residency have intensified the struggle faced by Ukrainians fleeing the war.
"War has thrown them into this situation where they're not sure of how long they're going to be away from home, how long they'll be in Canada, and what the next steps are," he said.
"Canadians…have been very welcoming, very generous, given the circumstances, and we hope that will continue. We know that's been invaluable for people to make quick transitions out of a war zone."