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Organizations anticipate a massive arrival of Ukrainians | War in Ukraine

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Emergency visas granted by Ottawa allow Ukrainians to work and study in Canada for three years.

The Canadian Press

Organizations that welcome immigrants to Canada are preparing for a mass arrival of Ukrainians before the March 31 expiration of the emergency visa program for those fleeing the Russian invasion.

Ottawa has issued more than 936,293 temporary emergency visas since March 2022 to Ukrainians who want to work or study in Canada while waiting for the end of the war. Of this number, as of November 28, 210,178 people had actually arrived under this Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization.

However, up to 90,000 other holders of this emergency visa plan to come to Canada before the deadline of March 31, suggest the organization Operation Safe Haven for Ukrainians as well as pre-arrival investigations carried out by Immigration Canada.

This would be a considerable increase in the number of new Ukrainian arrivals compared to previous months, said Sarosh Rizvi, director of the receiving organization.

When Russia launched its violent invasion of Ukraine in 2022, millions of people fled the country in search of safety. Canada has taken an exceptional approach by opening its doors to an unlimited number of Ukrainians and their loved ones through a new emergency visa program.

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Compared to what is in place for people arriving as traditional refugees, there were few well-established support organizations on the ground to help Ukrainian newcomers get back on their feet. Citizens then mobilized to donate clothing and furniture, businesses offered them jobs and some Canadians even welcomed them into their homes.

But as Ukraine approaches the second anniversary of the Russian invasion, that outpouring of support has subsided somewhat. We don't have the level of public interest that we had two years ago, Mr. Rizvi admitted in an interview on Wednesday.

Support has gradually become institutionalized, Mr. Rizvi said. Reception services are therefore better prepared to react now, but the expected influx will put a strain on their capacities.

I think every part of hospitality is about to be tested, he said, whether it's hotel capacity or food banks.

The other challenge is finding housing for these people, he said.

There is no great answer to this problem for the moment. It remains a need and is always handled on a case-by-case basis.

A quote from Sarosh Rizvi, director of the organization Operation Safe Haven for Ukrainians

The organization is also trying to encourage people who choose to come before the March 31 deadline to consider moving to smaller communities where housing is easier to find and more affordable.

Another hosting organization, Pathfinders for Ukraine, helps refugees navigate the immigration system. The group is also trying to reach Ukrainians abroad to assess whether their decision to come to Canada is beneficial for them.

Crossing an ocean is a resource-intensive, costly and emotionally taxing decision, organization founder Randall Baran-Chon said in an interview.

For many people, Canada is the right choice, but for some, it is not.

A quote from Randall Baran-Chong, founder of Pathfinders for Ukraine

A few factors give newcomers a better chance of succeeding in Canada, noted Mr. Baran-Chong, including their ability to adapt and having family in the country, speaking English or French, to be willing to work and have savings to support themselves until they find a job.

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Canadians welcome Ukrainian refugees at the Winnipeg airport, May 2022.

Ukrainian refugees initially had until March 2023 to enter Canada, but then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser extended the deadline. x27;one year a few days before the deadline.

The Immigration Department has seen a huge increase in the number of people arriving in Canada before this first deadline, according to documents obtained from the department under the Access to Information Act.

Nearly 8,000 people on emergency visas arrived only during the last week of March 2023.

There was also a last-minute rush to apply just before the government closed the program to new applications in July, according to the documents.

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I think by the end of the month we will have an idea of ​​how many people who are actually considering using the visa, but we've already heard people talking about this decision since probably September or October.

A quote from Randall Baran-Chong, founder of Pathfinders for Ukraine

Ukrainians on special visas who arrive after March 31 will still be welcome in Canada, but they will not be eligible to a three-year work or study permit and will not be entitled to any financial assistance or reception support.

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