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From December 14, 2020, to August 31, 2021, the Government of Canada is accepting applications through a new immigration program that allows certain asylum seekers who have been working in crucial healthcare roles during the COVID-19 crisis to apply for permanent resident status.
IRCC announced the program of the program in August, as a way of honouring the incredible contributions made by refugee claimants in Canada during the pandemic
Throughout the health crisis, asylum seekers in Canada have been critical in providing services and care, especially in long-term care facilities where COVID-19 has hit the hardest. This program will recognize the incredible contributions made by these asylum seekers by enabling them to stay in Canada permanently.
Who is eligible for Canada’s PR pathway for asylum seekers working in healthcare during the pandemic?
In order to be eligible for the program, asylum seekers must have claimed asylum prior to March 13, 2020, and received a work permit after their asylum claim. Applicants must have then 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) for a specific amount of time — there are a few different ways to fulfill the work experience requirement.
Eligible occupations for this program include:
- 3011 – Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors
- 3012 – Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
- 3233 – Licensed practical nurses
- 3413 – Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
- 3124 – Allied primary health practitioners
- 4412 – Home support workers*
*Only certain job titles at NOC 4412 are eligible.
Accompanying family members, in many cases, are eligible to be included on the permanent residence applications of eligible applicants. Additionally, in the heartbreaking scenario in which an asylum seeker contracted COVID-19 and passed away, their spouse and common-law partner may still be eligible to apply through this pathway.
There are a few different combinations of eligibility criteria for this pathway. Candidates intending to reside in a province other than Quebec can consult full eligibility criteria here. Candidates intending to reside in the province of Quebec can consult full eligibility criteria here.
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How to apply for Canada’s PR pathway for asylum seekers working in healthcare during the pandemic?
Applications for the immigration pathway for asylum seekers working in healthcare during the pandemic will be accepted from December 14, 2020, until August 31, 2021. Applicants may include accompanying family members who are in Canada on the application.
Notably, the application procedure differs depending on if the applicants is living in Quebec, or living outside Quebec. This is because Quebec maintains significant independence over its immigration selection system.
Applicants intending to reside outside the province of Quebec can apply by submitting a complete application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). More information can be found here.
Applicants intending to reside inside the province of Quebec must first submit an application to IRCC. Then, if approved, applicants must apply to Quebec for a Certificat de Selection du Quebec (CSQ). Finally, applicants must return to IRCC for final approval of their permanent resident status at the federal level. Full details on the Quebec application procedure can be found here. The program is good news for asylum seekers across Canada. It is expected to be particularly impactful for many in Quebec, where long-term homes (called CHSLDs in the French-speaking province) were particularly hard hit by the first wave of COVID-19.
Quebec is one of the common arrival points for asylum seekers with many choosing to cross into Canada from the United States at an irregular crossing point near Roxham Road.
Asylum seekers are individuals who request asylum in Canada based on a fear of persecution or violence in their home country. The COVID-19 crisis has shown that many of these people are willing to shoulder mountains of risk and responsibility to contribute to the well-being of the country they wish to call home.
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