Temporary resident to permanent resident pathways: updates and new work permit availability

As we’ve previously written about, earlier this year Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Marco Mendicino, announced four new temporary public policies that provide pathways to permanent residents for four groups of temporary residents currently working in Canada.  The new pathways were introduced as a means of maintaining immigration levels in the face of COVID-19 travel restrictions, making it easier for educated and experienced workers currently inside Canada to obtain permanent resident status.

These temporary pathways opened on May 6, 2021, and were to remain open until November 5, 2021, or until the intake cap for each stream had been reached, whichever came first.

To recap, the public policies targeted the following categories of temporary residents: individuals working outside of Quebec with recent Canadian work experience in certain healthcare related and selected non-healthcare related essential occupations (at least one year); individuals outside of Quebec, working and having a recent credential from a Canadian post-secondary institution (January 2017 or later); and, individuals who fall into either of the previous categories but who are also proficient in French.

While the categories for French-speakers were not subject to any intake caps, the other categories would only be able to accept a certain number of applications. The category for recent international graduates from a Canadian institution was capped at 40,000 applications, the category for essential, non-healthcare workers in Canada was capped at 30,000 applications, and the category for essential health-care workers in Canada was capped at 20,000 applications.

As was expected, these new temporary pathways have proven to be quite popular. The category for recent international graduates was in the highest demand, reaching its capacity of 40,000 applications after only a few days.  The category for essential, non-healthcare workers reached the maximum number of applications (30,000) and was closed on July 16, 2021.

As of August 15, 2021, there were still less than 4,000 of a maximum 20,000 applications received in the general (non-French speaking) category for essential, healthcare workers in Canada.  Occupations eligible under the healthcare category extend far beyond the doctors and nurses that might first come to mind. There is a long list of healthcare occupations that are eligible under this category. In particular, the healthcare worker category includes some occupations that are classified by Canada’s National Occupation Classification system as being of a lower “skill level”, such as NOC 4412 – Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations, NOC 3413 – Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates, and NOC 3414 – Other assisting occupations in support of health services; and individuals working in these types of occupations may want to take a closer look at this pathway as other permanent residence programs often require Canadian work experience that falls under a higher NOC “skill level”.

French speakers will have until November 5, 2021, to submit their applications under any of the streams as they are not subject to application caps.

When the new Temporary Resident to Permanent Resident Pathways were initially announced, there were no provisions that assisted applicants to extend their work permits while they waited for their permanent residence applications to be processed. Immigration lawyers and others quickly flagged this as a significant issue and communicated this to government officials.  Since eligibility for permanent residence under the pathways requires that an individual maintain their valid temporary resident status until a decision is made on their permanent residence application, individuals whose work permits expired during processing would not only lose their ability to work in Canada but would also be at risk of having their permanent residence applications refused.

This issue was remedied when on July 15, Minister Mendicino announced that beginning on July 26, 2021, individuals who applied under the new pathways would be eligible for an open work permit while they waited for their permanent residence application to be processed.

To be eligible for this one-time open work permit, an applicant must have submitted an application under one of the above-mentioned permanent residence pathway streams and meet the language requirements of the stream they applied under; they must also have been working in Canada with proper authorization at the time their permanent residence application was submitted.  At the time that they make their application for the open work permit, applicants must be in Canada with valid temporary resident status and have a work permit that is set to expire in the next four months.

The introduction of this new open work permit was much welcomed and was reflective of a department that under this immigration minister has shown a notable willingness to adjust its programs and policies both in response to the pandemic and to stakeholder feedback.

This article first appeared in the August 2021 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton (www.mwmosaic.ca) and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion.  We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.

This article was written by Nathan Po, a lawyer at McCuaig Desrochers LLP.

©2021 McCuaig Desrochers LLP. All rights reserved. The content of this newsletter is intended to provide general information on McCuaig Desrochers LLP, our lawyers, and recent developments in the law and is not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion.

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