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Many Ukrainians who have fled the war in their country want to stay in Canada | War in Ukraine

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Nearly 200,000 Ukrainians came to Canada through an emergency visa program. (Archive photo)

The Canadian Press

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A non-profit organization that helps Ukrainian newcomers navigate the Canadian immigration system says many people who fled war want to stay in Canada permanently but obstacles prevent them to start their new life.

Pathfinders for Ukraine interviewed 922 families who made the trip to Canada thanks to a temporary emergency visa.

The group found that 90% of those surveyed in Canada want permanent residency but only a third are confident they can obtain it under existing programs.

Although the government offers permanent resident status to people who have Canadian parents, Randall Baran-Chong, the founder of this group, laments that very few people can take advantage of this measurement.

We found that it's only 7% of people, he noted.

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With some visas due to expire in 18 months, Mr Baran-Chong found that the x27;uncertainty weighs heavily on the shoulders of many people.

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Ukrainians have been very well received in the country. (File photo)

There are also more practical concerns, including whether employers will want to hire people on time-limited refugee visas.

They know that the open work permit is only a little longer, so why would they want to offer them a promotion or a better job, or even hire them in the first place? he worries.

The group warns that without a specific program, the vast majority of people who wish to stay in the country will not be eligible for immigration programs that exist at the ;at this time, including issues related to language, finances and other constraints.

After fleeing the war in Ukraine last year, Stella Vitiuk and Nataliia Vabiak were hired as accountants at a company that offered jobs to a handful of Ukrainian newcomers.

While their colleagues discuss their plans for the weekend, the two ladies instead exchange notes about their efforts to stay in Canada.

Each day brings them closer to the expiration of their emergency visas while the war raging in their country shows no signs of slowing.

I'm a strong person, but I feel stressed, Ms. Vitiuk admitted. It's hard for everyone.

In the summer of 2022, Ms. Vitiuk made the difficult decision to leave her husband and parents to bring her two daughters to Canada. For the sake of her children, she now wishes to be able to immigrate permanently to Canada.

I want to offer them something new, something good , she explained in an interview with The Canadian Press.

As of October 14, nearly 200,000 Ukrainians had come to Canada thanks to an emergency visa program that has been in effect for three years.

This was a unique program that allowed many Ukrainians to come to Canada quickly but does not offer the same prospects or long-term support as the Ukrainians. a refugee program or permanent immigration stream.

Most of the people who have benefited from this program are women and children since men of fighting age are not allowed to leave Ukraine while the country is under martial law. p>

Some of these people, like Ms. Vitiuk and Ms. Vabiak, believe it is unlikely that they will qualify for permanent residence if a targeted immigration avenue is not created.

I didn't prepare, I don't have a lot of money. I just took $5,000 and came with two children, said Ms. Vitiuk.

The Federal Minister of Immigration , Marc Miller, recalled that among all the programs offered by his ministry, the emergency visas granted to Ukrainians fleeing the war were extraordinary, both in their volume and in the extent of the protection that ;they offer.

But it was always meant to be temporary in nature, he said in an interview with The Canadian Press on November 6.

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Federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller (File photo)

Mr. Miller assured that the federal government will remain flexible, as the war in Ukraine continues, but that there are diplomatic and geopolitical factors that must be taken into account.

If I were currently in a leadership position in Ukraine, I would like to see some of my citizens return to help rebuild Ukraine. I would not want Canada to stand in the way by creating unintended consequences.

A quote from Marc Miller, Federal Minister of Immigration

Nevertheless, Minister Miller expects that Canada must also be attentive to individual circumstances.

If someone is here, they have a child, and in practice they are Canadians, it is a discussion that we will have, he decided, specifying that #x27;this is not an issue he is prepared to address in the short term.

The minister conceded that this leaves some people in a precarious situation in the meantime, but he confirmed in the same breath that the government has no plans to send anyone back to Ukraine while the war rages. p>

Living in uncertainty while caring for three teenagers alone is difficult, Ms. Vabiak testified, especially since she struggles to find opportunities to improve her English.

She also fears that her husband, who had to stay in Ukraine, will be called to go to forehead. If he goes, I don't even know if he'll survive. It's really stressful.

With no guarantee about her future, for now she plans to focus on what ;she can do for her children.

Sometimes you cry, but you have to be strong, emphasized Ms. Vabiak. I have no choice. I have children, I have to think about them. That's why I'm here.


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