IRCC Announces a New Pathway and Special Measures for Refugee Claimants Working in the Healthcare Industry During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On 9 December 2020, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that on 14 December 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting applications for permanent residence from refugee claimants who work in Canada’s health-care sector and provide direct care to patients[1].

The Canadian Government announced two temporary public policies that have recently been developed – one for refugees living in Canada outside Quebec and one for refugee claimant’s residing in Quebec.

To qualify, individuals must meet all of the following criteria:

  • have claimed asylum before March 13, 2020
  • were issued a work permit after they made a claim for asylum
  • have worked in the health-care sector, in health institutions (for example, hospitals, long-term care homes, home care through an organization or agency, assisted living facilities)
  • have worked in a designated occupation for no less than 120 hours between March 13, 2020 and August 14, 2020. The designated occupations that are included in this special measure are orderlies, nurses, nurses’ aides and patient service associates, assistant orderlies and certain home support workers.
  • demonstrate 6 months of experience in the designated occupation before being granted permanent residence. Applicants will have until August 31, 2021 to acquire this experience.
  • have a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ), if wishing to reside in Quebec
  • meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminalitysecurity and health[2].

In addition, applicants’ internship experience both paid and unpaid will also be considered as long as it is an essential part of a post-secondary study program or vocational training in one of the designated occupations.

To apply, applicants residing inside Canada (outside of Quebec) must submit an application for permanent residence to IRCC. The department will then assess the applicant’s eligibility and ensure admissibility requirements are met. If an applicant is successful, they will then be granted permanent residency in Canada. Applicant’s applying from within Quebec go through a slightly different process and can read more about it here.

In-Canada family members of the principal applicant can also be included on the application. However, all applicants must meet the existing admissibility requirements including those related to criminality, security and health in order to qualify.

The application process will open on 14 December 2020 and end on 31 August 2021.

This new pathway of permanent residency highlights and shows immense appreciation for those who made an extraordinary contribution and sacrifice by working in the health-care sector in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many refugee claimants face an uncertain future in Canada, this pathway offers additional hope for those who put their lives on the line to help during these unprecedented times.

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