A Non-Profit Organization Helping Ukrainian Immigrants Navigate the Canadian Immigration System
“Pathfinders for Ukraine, a non-profit organization that assists new Ukrainian arrivals in navigating the Canadian immigration system, has highlighted the struggles faced by many individuals who have fled the war and wish to remain in Canada permanently. Following interviews with 922 families who arrived in Canada under a temporary emergency visa, the organization found that 90% of those surveyed expressed a desire to obtain permanent residency. However, only a third of them were confident in their ability to do so under existing programs. This has raised concerns about the accessibility and suitability of current immigration pathways for war refugees. With the majority of visas set to expire in 18 months, the uncertainty and obstacles faced by these individuals are significant.
Obstacles to Integration and Long-Term Settlement
One major obstacle cited by Randall Baran-Chong, the founder of Pathfinders for Ukraine, is the limited eligibility for permanent residency under existing programs. He noted that only 7% of individuals surveyed were able to benefit from the provision of permanent residency for those with Canadian relatives. Additionally, concerns about employment prospects and the potential reluctance of employers to hire individuals with limited refugee permits further compound the challenges faced by these immigrants. Without a clear and targeted immigration program tailored to their needs, the vast majority of those seeking to stay in Canada may be ineligible for existing immigration pathways, particularly due to language, financial, and other constraints.
A Personal Struggle for a Better Future
The experiences of individuals such as Stella Vitiuk and Nataliia Vabiak, who left their homes in Ukraine amidst the ongoing war, shed light on the personal struggles and sacrifices involved in their pursuit of permanent settlement in Canada. For Vitiuk, the decision to bring her two daughters to Canada in 2022 meant leaving behind her husband and parents. Drawing from her inner strength, she expressed a desire to provide a better future for her children by remaining in Canada permanently. However, the uncertainty surrounding their immigration status has intensified the stress and challenges faced by these families.
Temporary Measures and Future Considerations
While the Canadian Immigration Minister, Marc Miller, acknowledged the exceptional nature of the emergency visas granted to Ukrainian war refugees and emphasized their temporary nature, he also recognized the need for flexibility given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Highlighting the importance of considering individual circumstances, he stressed the government’s commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of those affected by the war. Although there are diplomatic and geopolitical factors to consider, the minister acknowledged the need to address the challenges faced by these immigrants.
Living with Uncertainty
As individuals like Vabiak navigate the uncertainties of their future in Canada, the emotional and practical challenges they face are profound. While striving to provide for her children and manage the stress of separated family members, she remains uncertain about her husband’s safety in Ukraine. These experiences underscore the reality of living with uncertainty and the difficult choices faced by war refugees seeking solace and stability within Canada.
A Call for Empathy and Action
The plight of Ukrainian immigrants underscores the need for empathetic and effective immigration policies that address the unique challenges faced by war refugees. It calls for a careful balance between temporary protection measures and the long-term settlement needs of those seeking refuge in Canada. As policymakers deliberate on future immigration pathways, it is imperative to consider the experiences and aspirations of those affected by war and displacement. Ultimately, it is a call for solidarity, compassion, and proactive measures to offer hope and security to those who seek a new beginning in Canada.