The Canadian government has long recognized the importance of people immigrating to Canada as a way to keep our economy working effectively. In November 2020, the government set a target to approve 401,000 people as permanent residents in 2021 as part of its Immigration Levels Plan. This plan is even more imperative, since these immigrants to Canada would help to boost and support economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, due to the continuing impact of COVID-19, including ongoing border closures and difficulty of people outside of Canada being able to enter to work, study or become permanent residents, this target would be difficult to meet based on the existing pathways to permanent residence. One of the solutions would be to look to the foreign nationals already here, working temporarily in Canada and already contributing to our labour market.
As a result, on April 12, 2021, Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Marco Mendicino, announced 4 new temporary public policies, opening “pathways” for certain temporary workers in Canada to be able to apply for permanent residence (the “Temporary Pathways”). These pathways are temporary, and will only be open for applications from May 6 to November 5, 2021, or until the intake cap for each stream has been reached, whichever comes first. The 4 groups of people targeted for the Temporary Pathways are:
- People outside of Quebec with recent Canadian work experience in certain essential occupations (at least one year);
- French-speaking people outside of Quebec with recent Canadian work experience in certain essential occupations (at least one year);
- People outside of Quebec, working and having a recent credential from a Canadian post-secondary institution (Jan. 2017 or later); and
- French-speaking people outside of Quebec, working and having a recent credential from a Canadian post-secondary institution (Jan. 2017 or later).
There are application caps in place for how many applications will be accepted. The French-speaking categories do not have application caps. For pathway 1 (essential occupations), the cap is 50,000 applications split between 2 distinct “streams” (20,000 for A and 30,000 for B). Stream A includes health-related occupations, and Stream B includes the other eligible occupations. People applying under Stream A cannot rely on work experience gained in an occupation in Stream B, but those applying under Stream B may combine their work experience with work done in a Stream A occupation if applicable. For pathway 3 (Canadian post-secondary graduates), the cap is 40,000 applications. Workers in Canada can also include their family members who may be in Canada or overseas as part of their applications. Workers in Canada must be working for a wage, and cannot be self-employed (unless it is a medical doctor in a fee-for-service arrangement). It is very important for people who think they may qualify under one of these pathways to review the policy on the IRCC website as there are numerous other requirements to qualify.
For the essential occupations, the IRCC announcement (which is available on the IRCC website) contains an appendix of approved occupations that would qualify. Some of these occupations include groups where people may have previously not had many options to apply for permanent residence. Some notable examples include many healthcare occupations, sales support occupations (such as cashiers and clerks), construction, industry and electrical trades (and helpers/labourers), transport and heavy equipment operation related occupations, agriculture and fishing, trapping and hunting occupations, and machine operators in food and beverage processing. Workers will also have to meet a minimum benchmark (level 4) for either English or French language skills, as determined by their approved language test results (either IELTS or CELPIP).
For recent graduates of Canadian post-secondary institutions, the person must have completed either a degree (program of at least 8 months), diploma, certificate or attestation (program of at least 8 months), including those for skilled trades. They must be currently working in Canada (either pursuant to a study permit if continuing their education), or on a work permit or other authorization to work. Work must be for paid wages. Full-time work is not required, nor is a certain amount of work experience before applying. Applicants must have a minimum language benchmark of 5, calculated as described above. This pathway is an incredible opportunity that should allow many people to apply for permanent residence based on work experience that would not otherwise qualify for other economic options currently available.
The Temporary Pathways are a great opportunity for many people here in Canada to be able to hopefully remain here permanently. It recognizes the incredible work done by many workers in essential occupations, as discovered throughout the past year during the pandemic. It also recognizes the great benefit that international graduates can also bring to Canada. People interested in applying for permanent residence under these pathways are encouraged to review the current Public Policy wording for each subcategory, and keep your eyes out on the IRCC website for complete instruction guides which should be released May 5, 2021. Our Edmonton immigration group would be happy to assist and provide more advice about whether someone may qualify to apply under these Temporary Pathways. If you would like legal assistance, please contact one of our Edmonton immigration team members and we would be happy to assist you.
This article was prepared by Megan Dawson, a partner with McCuaig Desrochers LLP
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