The pandemic has highlighted the importance of many essential workers beyond those involved in the healthcare industry. Cashiers, janitors, and other front-facing workers have been instrumental in providing services even during lockdowns, allowing the economy to continue thriving. Fortunately, essential workers are now eligible for Canada’s new immigration programs, allowing them to extend their stay in the country.
Temporary foreign workers in more than a hundred essential occupations can apply for the new permanent residency tracks starting on May 6. If you work outside Quebec, you have the chance to join 50,000 other immigrants in acquiring permanent residency status through this new pathway. It will be open until November 5 or until the 20,000 spots assigned to healthcare workers, and 30,000 spots for other essential workers are occupied, whichever happens first. Additionally, if you speak French, you can qualify for the PR program for French-speaking temporary foreign workers in essential roles. The program has an unlimited number of openings.
Here’s what you need to know about extending your stay in Canada as an essential worker:
To be eligible for the program, you must have at least one year of work experience within the past three years in one of the 135 essential occupations. There are 40 qualifying occupations for the healthcare pathway and 95 for the other essential workers’ pathway. You can also qualify if you have the equivalent part-time experience of 1,560 hours in that occupation.
Both programs require you to have been employed in Canada in any line of work when you apply. Self-employment does not count unless you are a medical doctor charging a fee for service with a health authority. Additionally, you must be legally residing in Canada on a valid temporary status or be eligible for restoration. You must also have the intention of immigrating to any province besides Quebec.
There are also language criteria you must fulfill. Your Canadian Language Benchmark must score at least 4 in all language abilities in English or French. Additionally, the stream for French speakers mandates an NCLC of at least 4 to qualify. Lastly, to be eligible, the Canadian government must not deem you as inadmissible due to medical or criminal reasons. If you aren’t sure if you qualify, you’ll need to talk to immigration services in Toronto to assess your eligibility and get started on your application.
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) have segmented the new programs for essential workers into two streams: Stream A and Stream B. Stream A is designed for healthcare workers. It’s important to note that temporary residents employed in health-related occupations cannot use work experience outside of their current role, even if they are in an essential line of work, for their application. Meanwhile, Stream B is designated for essential workers in other qualifying occupations. They are permitted to combine work experience in a healthcare role to fulfill their work experience requirement.
The National Occupational Classification has listed eligible occupations under both of these streams. Stream A includes nursing coordinators and supervisors, dentists, specialist physicians, pharmacists, dieticians and nutritionists, physiotherapists, chiropractors, opticians, dental hygienists and dental therapists, social workers, and many more.
Meanwhile, Stream B includes cashiers, service station attendants, store shelf stockers, sheet metal workers, contractors and supervisors in the industrial, electrical, and construction trades, pest controllers, mine labourers, taxi drivers, retail salespersons, home care child providers, and many other occupations. If you want to find out if your employment qualifies, it’s best to speak to a Canada immigration expert who can help you complete your application.
The Canadian government has recognized the importance of essential workers both in and out of the healthcare industry. By instituting a new permanent residency pathway, especially for these occupations, foreign workers can more easily access immigration routes that help them settle permanently in the country.
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