The modern world is no stranger to refugee crises, and what is normally met by delays when someone is trying to apply for refugee status has been streamlined to accommodate refugees from the Russian-Ukrainian war. An article written by Jennifer Venis for the International Bar Association (IBA) titled “The Future of Refugee Protection” shines light on the differences between the Ukrainian refugee crisis and other refugee crises we’ve seen in the past. Alex Stojicevic, the Refugee Officer of the IBA Immigration and Nationality Law Committee and Founding and Managing Partner of MKS Lawyers in Vancouver, points out that the Afghanistan and Ukraine crises highlight the need for a more coordinated, multilateral, and less bureaucratic approach, specifically the IBA’s proposal for Emergency Evacuation Visas (EEV). This would give a refugee the ability to, as Alex puts it, “get people to safety, then worry about the other elements.”
When speaking on Canada’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis Alex explains that Canada has taken an EEV style approach to welcoming refugees to their country. In Alex’s words “Canada has essentially said, any [Ukrainian] who wants a visa to come to Canada merely has to apply for one, and we’ll give it to them, and thus far, in practice, people are getting them in less than two weeks. And once they are here, they’re being given a work permit that is valid for up to three years depending on how long their passport is valid, and it’s open and there’s no strings attached to it. This is the first time we have done this in a very long time.”
As of March 3rd Canada had already welcomed 6,100 Ukrainian refugees as said in a news release in March, no doubt in thanks to it’s EEV like approach. The IBA proposal suggests that using multinational support, victims of a refugee crisis should be evacuated first, prioritizing their safety above all else. Once they’ve arrived in a safe place, they’ll be met with possibilities for both refugee protection or immigration. Alex explains, “all of this should be done with the support of local NGOs and the host state and, crucially, maximum agency for the displaced individuals, so they can choose which pathway suits their needs – temporary protection if they have hope to return home one day, or family reunification if they don’t consider that a possibility.”
Alex states, “refugee crises are going to happen more often, not less – whether because of a war, the climate emergency, or for some other reason – so countries are going to have to get over this.” Alex refers to the many reasonings and political hesitation around funding proper support of responses to other refugee crises. “We need to use this Ukrainian example now as a template and forget about the previous approaches.” Alex is the founding and managing partner of MKS Immigration Lawyers located in Vancouver, BC, which was recently named one of the top immigration law boutiques in Canada. With 24 years of experience as an immigration lawyer Alex has seen first hand how important it is to adopt new approaches to refugee crises. MKS Immigration Lawyers focuses specifically on immigration and citizenship law giving them a profound and in-depth understanding of immigration law and policy. Book a consultation by visiting vancouverlaw.ca/canadian-immigration.