Canada’s immigration minister will “soon” have an update on the future of an emergency visa program for Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war as calls grow for the government to announce an extension.

The Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel program (CUAET), which expedites visas and temporary residency permits for Ukrainians and their families, is set to expire March 31.

The lack of a firm commitment that the program will continue beyond that date is creating uncertainty and even panic among Ukrainians who are still looking to come to Canada, advocates say.

“We’ve seen an increase in numbers (of Ukrainians) arriving, particularly in Toronto, as Ukrainians get very nervous about the possibility of this program ending,” said Ihor Michalchyshyn, executive director and CEO of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which has been lobbying the government to extend the program.

Since January 2022, 177,958 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada, including CUAET applicants and returning Canadian permanent residents. At least 590,000 applications through the CUAET program have been approved out of 900,000 that have been received.

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