The Canadian parliament is urging the government to allow Ukrainians to travel without a Visa. The parliament states that Ukrainians should be able to apply for an eTA instead of a Visa.
Advantages of an eTA compared to a Visa
Currently, travellers of Ukrainian nationality need to apply for a visa to travel to Canada. This is generally very time-consuming and rather costly. Canada has agreements with multiple countries, including all EU-countries, that allow travellers from these countries to travel to Canada without a Visa. They are still required to apply for an eTA (electronic Travel Authorization). There are many advantages to the eTA compared to the Visa: it is, for example, much cheaper, and mostly approved much quicker. Often, an eTA application will be approved the same day. Unlike the visa application process, the eTA does not require a visit to the Embassy. Everything can be done online and nothing has to be printed; as soon as your eTA has been approved, it will be linked to the passport that was used for the application.
Unique situation due to war
Closing such agreements usually takes up a lot of time. Countries often spend years negotiating with the Canadian government to enable visa-free travel. One of the reasons for this, is that the eTA system is meant to warrant Canada’s safety by screening travellers beforehand. Canada is therefore very selective when it comes to which nationalities are allowed visa-free travel. Until this day, Ukraine has not been part of that list.
The Russian invasion has changed the situation. The Canadian parliament is urging the government of Justin Trudeau to enable visa-free travelling for Ukrainian nationalities. This will make travelling to Canada significantly easier for Ukrainian refugees. Canada has always been a popular destination for Ukrainians. The country has the third-greatest Ukrainian population, apart from Ukraine and Russia. Due to the war, many refugees are trying to make their way to Canada, but with the current visa process, this can consume a lot of time.
Although the eTA is not a permanent residence permit, it isvalid for a stay of up to 6 monthsin Canada. Once in Canada, refugees can apply for a permanent residency permit.
The Canadian parliament is advising the government to deploy more personnel at immigration services to catch up on the visa-application delays. Canada was already struggling with a backlog regarding visa-applications because of Covid-19, and the war in Ukraine has only worsened it.
Sanctions against Russia
The Canadian government has already introduced several sanctions against Russia. For example, Russian aeroplanes are no longer welcome in Canada, and Canadian companies are no longer allowed to trade with the Russian Central Bank. Canada has also imposed a ban on the import of Russian oil, one of Russiaʼs most important exports. In addition, the Canadian government has imposed personal sanctions against confidants of Russian President Putin.