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 500 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).
Who is eligible for the construction workers' immigration pathway?
Overall, the program will accept a maximum of 500 principal applicants. Of these 500 spots, a minimum of 100 spots will be reserved for out-of-status construction workers who were admitted to Canada as temporary residents but never granted the authorization to work.
- 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:
Status in Canada
Candidates must be foreign nationals who either:
- Entered Canada as a temporary resident and previously held the authorization to work in the construction industry and have proof of filing Canadian income tax returns or declaring income in Canada (400 principal applicants); or,
- Entered Canada as a temporary resident and have never held authorization to work in Canada.
In both cases, the foreign national must have continuously resided in Canada for at least the five years prior to their application.
Candidates must be currently working without authorization in the construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and have at least three years of full-time work experience in this industry within the five years prior to applying.
The GTA includes the: City of Toronto, Durham Region, Halton Region, Peel Region, York Region.
Current and prior construction experience must have been in one of the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes:
- Major Group 72 Trades and Skilled Transport and Equipment Operators
- Major Group 73 maintenance and equipment operation trades
- NOC 7441 – residential and commercial installers and servicers
- NOC 7521 – heavy equipment operators (except crane)
- NOC 7611 – construction trades helpers and labourers
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:
- 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
- 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) after September 3, 2019, to apply for a referral letter. This referral letter is a mandatory component of the official application for permanent residence.
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 1, 2022, 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.
The new 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.”