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Canada Announces New Permanent Residency Pathways for Essential Workers, International Graduates and French Speakers


by: Heather Bell

On May 6, 2021, Canada will launch six new permanent residency pathways targeting essential workers, international graduates and French speakers. 90,000 spaces will be available to essential workers and graduates, with an unlimited intake of French speaking immigrants. The program will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until caps are reached.

The 90,000 applications include:

– 20,000 for temporary workers in 40 different health care occupations.
– 30,000 for temporary workers in 95 selected essential occupations, including various retail, labour, agriculture and trades workers.
– 40,000 for international students who graduated from a Canadian post-secondary program.

To be eligible as an essential worker, a foreign national must have at least one year of full-time (or equivalent in part-time) Canadian experience in an approved essential occupation within three years of their application. They can be employed in Canada in any occupation at the time of application. Self-employed work does not count, except for medical doctors earning a fee-for-service through a health authority.

The list of essential occupations is broad and encouraging for workers who otherwise may not qualify or receive the needed points under Express Entry or a provincial nominee program. Occupations include: janitors and cleaners, trade helpers and labourers, cashiers, store shelf stockers, farm workers, security guards and customer service representatives.

To be eligible as an international graduate, applicants must have completed a program from a designated learning institute prior to submission of their application and no earlier than January 2017.

The international graduate must have obtained one of the following:
– a degree (associate, bachelors or masters) from a program that is at least 8 months in duration;
– a credential from a program of any duration in a listed essential trade;
– one or more credentials, that are at least 8 months in length and equal 2 years of studies, if combining two programs; or
– for vocational diplomas or studies, each program is at least 900 hours, with a combined total of 1,800 hours (exception applies depending on combination).

All applicants must:
– be physically in Canada at the time of application and when it is approved;
– have valid status in Canada, or be eligible for restoration;
– be employed in Canada in any occupation at the time of application is received;
– pass an approved English or French test, meeting the minimum level required for their stream;
– be medically and criminally admissible; and
– submit their application electronically.

Accompanying family members, both in Canada and overseas, can be included in the application.

This is a welcomed move by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. With the government setting its immigration targets to over 400,000 new permanent residents each year, we had anticipated more opportunities for foreign workers and students.

Of course, with any program that has a set start and end date, those that qualify will feel the pressure to submit quickly. It’s a race against the cap, not knowing what the government will do as we get closer to the November deadline.

We encourage businesses to share the news with their foreign workers, and for individuals to get prepared now for a submission when it opens in May. Let us know if we can help!

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