New Canada-Ukraine deal set to expand immigration opportunities

Published On February 17, 2021 | By Iryna Khomenko | News
Minister Mendicino signing an agreement on launching the new Canada-Ukraine Mobility Group on Jan. 27
Minister Mendicino signing an agreement on launching the new Canada-Ukraine Mobility Group on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Government of Canada

Canada and Ukraine signed a deal forming a new Canada-Ukraine Mobility Group on Jan. 27 that will work to ease the immigration process.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino said the group’s establishment will help identify and improve mobility opportunities for Ukrainians planning to immigrate to Canada.

“The unique partnership that we are announcing today will serve to further strengthen the deep-rooted, people-to-people ties between our two countries,” Mendicino said.

The immigration process became tougher during the pandemic despite strong relations between Canada and Ukraine.

Mendicino said the difficulties appeared due to the existing travel restrictions and the issued guidance that limits the ability to process applications normally.

Volodymyr Merezhko, a 42-year old engineer from the Ukrainian city Dnipro, about 160 kilometres south of the capital Kyiv, is one of those who are seeking to come to Canada.

He said COVID-19 ruined all his plans.

“We had it all figured out,” Merezhko said. “Then COVID happened. The only question going through my mind was, why now?”

He said he and his family applied for one of Canada’s immigration program, sold their apartment and put the required sum in their bank account.

“It was a tough decision but what we knew is that we didn’t want to stay in Ukraine anymore,” Merezhko said.

He said they temporarily moved to his sister’s place.

“It is far from spacious but we didn’t expect to stay there for long since our immigration process was going pretty fast,” Merezhko said.

“I have three children and this place is not convenient for them, but we were only considering it as a temporary circumstance,” he said. “We didn’t want to burden my sister, either.”

Merezhko said when COVID-19 restrictions came into action everything became unclear and by the time their documents were ready the opportunity of entering the country had disappeared.

“Now we are waiting once again,” he said. “I know it is a tough time for everyone but people in a situation like us feel so uncertain, this is what living out of a suitcase is like but in a negative perspective.”

The announced Mobility Group is also expected to set the groundwork for another deal between Canada and Ukraine called the Youth Mobility Agreement, aimed at young adults aged between 18 and 35.

It will provide younger Ukrainians with opportunities to travel and work in Canada.

“The people of Canada and Ukraine have a strong relationship that will only be deepened by the announcement made today,” Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said.

Sofia Grechina, a 16-year-old Ukrainian student from Dnipro 69 school, is still in her final school year but she is already considering coming to Canada.

“I want to pursue my studies there,” she said. “I think any initiative made towards Canada-Ukraine cooperation is a good sign, it creates more opportunities, ways to follow.”

The new Canada-Ukraine Mobility group will also contribute to implementing the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, where Canada is expecting to welcome more than 1.2 million new immigrants during the next three-year period.

“We’ll just hope for the best,” Merezhko said. “Let 2021 become a better year for everyone.”

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