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UPDATE Jan 20, 2023: IRCC is doubling this program to accept 1,000 out-of-status construction workers in the GTA. Also, the deadline to apply will be extended to January 2, 2024.

As of January 2, 2020, the Canadian government started accepting applications from out-of-status construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who are interested in becoming Canadian permanent residents. The program was announced in July of 2019 and is administered in conjunction with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

This is a temporary initiative that will enable 1,000 out-of-status construction workers to apply for permanent resident status. The initiative will be available to those employed in the construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

Between the launch of the pilot in July 2019 and January 2023, 452 people have been accepted as permanent residents (190 principal applicants and 262 dependants).

Related: What to do if you’re out-of-status in Canada.

Who is eligible for the construction workers’ immigration pathway?

Overall, the program will accept a maximum of 1,000 principal applicants.

  • Family members accepted, too: If these principal applicants have a spouse/common-law partner or dependent children living in Canada, these family members are also eligible to apply for permanent resident status.

In order to be eligible for this program, candidates have to meet all of the following eligibility criteria as outlined by IRCC:

Who can apply

You can apply for permanent residence under this public policy if you meet all the following requirements:

  • have entered Canada as a temporary resident but currently have no status
  • live in Canada and have been here for at least 5 years
  • have the right work experience
  • have family in Canada
  • be referred by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
  • be otherwise admissible to Canada

Note: You and your family members cannot apply for permanent residence under this public policy if

  • you or your family members have pending refugee claims or
  • you or your family members are failed asylum claimants

When you entered Canada

When you first came to Canada, you need to have entered legally as a temporary resident.

Living in Canada

You must be living in Canada now and have been living in Canada continuously for 5 years or more.

To prove that you’ve been living in Canada, you can use copies of a lease or rental agreement. If you don’t have a lease or rental agreement, you may use a combination of other documents such as:

  • a letter from a landlord or property owner (the letter should include dates that you lived at that location)
  • bills or bank statements with your name and address

Work experience

When you apply you must:

  • be working in Canada and
  • have enough past work experience

You must have done the work outlined in the NOC job description of your occupation as well as most of the main duties.

Type of work experience – NOC 2021

Current and prior construction experience must have been in one of the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes:

  • NOC 72010 – Contractors and supervisors, machining, metal forming, shaping and erecting trades and related occupations
  • NOC 72011 – Contractors and supervisors, electrical trades and telecommunications occupations
  • NOC 72012 – Contractors and supervisors, pipefitting trades
  • NOC 72013 – Contractors and supervisors, carpentry trades
  • NOC 72014 – Contractors and supervisors, other construction trades, installers, repairers and servicers
  • NOC 72100 – Machinists and machining and tooling inspectors
  • NOC 72101 – Tool and die makers
  • NOC 72102 – Sheet metal workers
  • NOC 72103 – Boilermakers
  • NOC 72104 – Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters
  • NOC 72105 – Ironworkers
  • NOC 72106 – Welders and related machine operators
  • NOC 72200 – Electricians (except industrial and power system)
  • NOC 72201 – Industrial electricians
  • NOC 72202 – Power system electricians
  • NOC 72203 – Electrical power line and cable workers
  • NOC 72204 – Telecommunications line and cable workers
  • NOC 72205 – Telecommunications installation and repair workers
  • NOC 72300 – Plumbers
  • NOC 72301 – Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers
  • NOC 72302 – Gas fitters
  • NOC 72310 – Carpenters
  • NOC 72311 – Cabinetmakers
  • NOC 72320 – Bricklayers
  • NOC 72321 – Insulators
  • NOC 72020 – Contractors and supervisors, mechanic trades
  • NOC 72021 – Contractors and supervisors, heavy equipment operator crews
  • NOC 72022 – Supervisors, printing and related occupations
  • NOC 72023 – Supervisors, railway transport operations
  • NOC 72024 – Supervisors, motor transport and other ground transit operators
  • NOC 72400 – Construction millwrights and industrial mechanics
  • NOC 72401 – Heavy-duty equipment mechanics
  • NOC 72402 – Heating, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics
  • NOC 72403 – Railway carmen/women
  • NOC 72404 – Aircraft mechanics and aircraft inspectors
  • NOC 72405 – Machine fitters
  • NOC 72406 – Elevator constructors and mechanics
  • NOC 72410 – Automotive service technicians, truck and bus mechanics and mechanical repairers
  • NOC 72411 – Auto body collision, refinishing and glass technicians and damage repair estimators
  • NOC 72420 – Oil and solid fuel heating mechanics
  • NOC 72421 – Appliance servicers and repairers
  • NOC 72422 – Electrical mechanics
  • NOC 72423 – Motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle and other related mechanics
  • NOC 72429 – Other small engine and small equipment repairers
  • NOC 72500 – Crane operators
  • NOC 72501 – Water well drillers
  • NOC 72999 – Other technical trades and related occupations
  • NOC 73100 – Concrete finishers
  • NOC 73101 – Tilesetters
  • NOC 73102 – Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers and lathers
  • NOC 73110 – Roofers and shinglers
  • NOC 73111 – Glaziers
  • NOC 73112 – Painters and decorators (except interior decorators)
  • NOC 73113 – Floor covering installers
  • NOC 73200 – Residential and commercial installers and servicers
  • NOC 73310 – Railway and yard locomotive engineers
  • NOC 73311 – Railway conductors and brakemen/women
  • NOC 73400 – Heavy equipment operators
  • NOC 73401 – Printing press operators
  • NOC 73402 – Drillers and blasters – surface mining, quarrying and construction
  • NOC 75110 – Construction trades helpers and labourers

Language Proficiency

Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French consistent with Canadian Language Benchmark of Level 4.

Family Connection to Canada

Candidates must have at least one of the following two types of relatives living in Canada:

  1. Have a family member who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident (mother, father, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin); or
  2. Have a spouse, common-law partner, or child in Canada.

Referral Letter from the Canadian Labour Congress

If a candidate meets the above criteria, they can contact the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), to apply for a referral letter. This referral letter is a mandatory component of the official application for permanent residence.

Other considerations

In addition to the above-mentioned eligibility criteria, candidates must make sure they are not inadmissible to Canada for any reason other than having overstayed their previous visa and worked without authorization.

Finally, individuals who have previously filed refugee claims and failed refugee claimants are not eligible under this pathway.

How can a person apply for the construction workers’ immigration pathway?

Interested candidates have to go through a two-step application process. Please note that applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the quota has been reached the pathway will close.

First, applicants must apply to the Canadian Labour Congress for an official referral letter for the program. Second, applicants with a referral letter must apply to IRCC for permanent resident status.

Step One: Application for referral letter – Canadian Labour Congress

In order to being, candidates first must complete an official application form from the CLC website. Interested candidates must complete this application form, followed by a rigorous screening process administered by the CLC.

Details regarding the application form and the screening process have not been made public at this time.

Step Two: Application for permanent residence – IRCC

IRCC opened for applications on January 2, 2020, and will close the program on January 2, 2024, or when the quota has been filled, whichever happens first.

In order to apply to IRCC, applicants must have the CLC referral letter from step one. Again, full details about the application procedure have not been released, but prospective applicants can expect to supply enough personal information and supporting documentation to satisfy the eligibility requirements.

Why is this immigration pathway for construction workers being introduced?

This program is being introduced following a report presented to the Canadian government describing the vulnerabilities faced by these out-of-status workers despite their economic contributions to Canada. The report finds that due to their immigration status, these workers and their families are forced to live in fear, and the presence of out-of-status workers in the construction industry leads to lower wages for Canadians.

This immigration pathway is part of the Temporary Public Policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers in the GTA and aims to “increase the protection of some of these construction workers and their families, while safeguarding Canada’s labour market.” This new policy was only announced on July 5, 2019, so details about the program have not yet been released.

The construction workers who will be eligible for the program came to Canada through legal pathways for temporary workers, but previous changes to immigration programs resulted in their loss of legal status to work.

“Overall, this is a positive move on the part of the Canadian government,” says Ruairi Spillane, founder of Outpost Recruitment, a leading recruitment firm in the Canadian construction industry. “These workers, who have contributed for years to the industry, will be able to work without fear, and wages for Canadian workers should improve. It’s a win-win.”

About the author

Dane Stewart

Dane Stewart

Canadian Immigration Writer
Dane is an award-winning digital storyteller with experience in writing, audio, and video. He has more than 7 years’ experience covering Canadian immigration news.
Read more about Dane Stewart
Citation "Immigration pathway for out-of-status construction workers in the GTA." Moving2Canada. . Copy for Citation


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