CIMM - Guardian Angels (Refugee Claimants Working on the Front Lines) - June 2, 2021
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- In recognition of their exceptional contribution to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, on December 14, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) implemented a special measure to provide a pathway to permanent residence for asylum claimants across the country working in the healthcare sector.
- Individuals can apply under this special measure between December 14, 2020, and August 31, 2021.
- Individuals must meet specific criteria to qualify, including having provided direct patient care in a designated occupation, such as orderlies, nurses’ aides, nurses, assistant orderlies and certain home support workers, over a specified time period. They must also pass medical, security and criminality screening.
- For those intending to reside in Quebec, Quebec selects applicants in accordance with the Canada-Quebec Accord.
- Applicants who have a pending application for permanent residence under humanitarian and compassionate grounds can request that their existing application be transferred for assessment under this special measure.
- As of May 1, 2021, the Department has received a total of 3,825 applications, reflecting 8,850 persons, including dependents. So far, 380 persons have been granted permanent residence under this measure.
Supporting facts and figures
- The special immigration measures implemented to provide a pathway to permanent residence for asylum claimants working in the health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic came into effect on December 14, 2020.
- These public policies were developed following several media reports and stakeholder interventions that drew attention to a number of pending and failed asylum claimants working in Canada’s health care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Quebec.
- The main objective of the Guardian Angel public policy is to recognize the extraordinary contribution of certain refugee claimants who are providing direct care to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby putting their own lives at risk and who face an uncertain future in Canada. This is in contrast to other recent public policies that aim to recognize the economic contribution of temporary workers helping to keep our economy running (including the TR to PR pathways for temporary workers in healthcare, other selected essential occupations and international students who graduated from Canadian institutions).
- This initiative targets certain pending and failed refugee claimants rather than individuals who are temporary residents and have a more secure situation or who may have alternative pathways to PR. Facilitating a pathway to permanent residence for refugee claimants was considered a significant acknowledgement of the service provided by these individuals, while potentially putting themselves at risk, many of whom may be vulnerable to stigma and discrimination.
- Immigration to Quebec is a shared jurisdiction with the provincial government; this relationship is governed by the 1991 Canada-Quebec Accord, which grants Quebec specific selection authorities for most immigrants destined to the province.
- In accordance with the Canada-Quebec Accord, two public policies have been developed: one for applicants residing in Quebec; and one for applications residing in the “rest of Canada”. The Government of Canada has worked closely with the Quebec government to develop and administer this special measure, with Quebec selecting applicants intending to reside in Quebec. Quebec has a corresponding regulation that is aligned with the eligibility criteria of this public policy.
- To qualify, the foreign national must meet the following criteria:
- Is a pending refugee claimant or a failed refugee claimant, who made a refugee claim in Canada prior to March 13, 2020, and continued to reside in Canada when their application for permanent residence was made;
- Was authorized to work in Canada by virtue of a work permit or work permit exemption under section 186 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations;
- Intends to reside in a province or territory other than Quebec, or if wishing to reside in Quebec, has a Certificat de sélection du Québec;
- Worked in Canada in a designated occupation providing direct patient care in a hospital, public or private long-term care home or assisted living facility, or for an organization/agency providing home or residential health care services to seniors and persons with disabilities in private homes. The designated occupations include orderlies, nurses, nurses’ aides and patient service associates, assistant orderlies and certain home support workers. Must have worked:
- for a minimum of 120 hours between March 13, 2020 and August 14, 2020; and,
- for a minimum of 6 months full-time or 750 hours part-time total experience (Applicants have until August 31, 2021 to obtain the experience and until October 31, 2021 to submit supporting evidence).
- In addition, work must be paid unless the applicant was doing an internship.
- Must meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminality, security and health. Certain inadmissibilities are excluded: having failed to comply with conditions related to their temporary stay including having overstayed a visa, visitor record, work permit or student permit or having worked or studied without being authorized to do so under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act; having entered Canada without the required visa or other document required under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations; having entered Canada without a valid passport or travel document.
- Is a pending refugee claimant or failed claimant who has received a final negative decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) and is required, in terms of the final condition of this public policy, to withdraw their refugee claim at the IRB or their appeal at the Refugee Appeal Division, and judicial review of the negative IRB decision in Federal Court or an appeal in relation to the underlying IRB decision at the Federal Court of Appeal, in order to be granted permanent residence through the public policy.
- Those who have been found ineligible to have their refugee claim assessed by the IRB would be excluded from this initiative. In addition, those who have withdrawn or abandoned their claims would be excluded as well as claims determined to be manifestly unfounded or with no credible basis; determined to be excluded under Article 1F of the Refugee Convention; or a determination that refugee protection has been ceased or vacated.
- In recognition that there may be refugee claimants working in the health sector who contracted COVID-19 and subsequently passed away, spouses and common-law partners of these individuals who are in Canada and arrived before August 14, 2020, may also be granted permanent residence under this public policy.
- Although overseas dependents will not be granted permanent residence through this initiative, family members overseas may be sponsored as members of the Family Class once the applicant has been granted permanent residence.
- The Department is working closely with the Canada Border Services Agency to minimize the risk that applicants be removed while their application is being processed. Failed refugee claimants who are confirmed as having met the eligibility requirements will have their removal order stayed until a final decision is made on their application.
- In order to avoid inefficient use of resources and duplication of effort, the IRB will put claims and appeals of eligible applicants on hold until a decision on their permanent residence application under this special measure is rendered.
Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) Coverage
- As refugee claimants, Guardian Angels are eligible for limited, temporary health-care coverage under the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP). Both pending refugee claimants and failed refugee claimants under this pathway will continue to receive IFHP benefits until they qualify for insured health services in their province. This will avoid any insurance gaps caused by provincially imposed waiting periods and ensure a seamless transition to provincial coverage.
Figures and processing
- This public policy does not have a cap associated to it. Without a cap, it is unclear how many admissions will result from this special measure, but since its announcement in mid-December 2020, interest has been high.
- IRCC receives and triages all applications. Once this is done, eligible applicants that are intending to reside in Quebec are invited to apply to the ministère de l'Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI) for a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ) as the MIFI assesses work experience, occupation and ability to establish in Quebec. This is an extra step that applicants in Quebec have to take, explaining why it takes longer for applications from Quebec to be approved by IRCC, and thus for applicants to be granted permanent resident status.
- Below are the statistics related to applications received, approved, refused and admissions between the start of implementation on December 14, 2020 to May 1, 2021. Principal applicants are identified as “cases” and “potential visas” is the total of people, i.e., principal applicants plus their dependent included in the applications.
|Applications Received||Preliminary criteria met||Approved in Principle||Admissions|
|Province of Destination||Potential Visas||Cases||Potential Visas||Cases||Potential Visas||Cases||Persons|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||35||10||30||5||15|
|Prince Edward Island||--||--||--||--|
- As some H&C requests have been converted to HCW and HCWQC, the data in the above table may include requests received before December 14, 2020, the start date of this public policy. If cases do not meet to requirements of the public policy, they may be converted to H&C.
- Potential Visas count excludes non-accompanying dependants. Non-Accompanying Dependants will not land under this public policy.
- Some cases are on hold because applicants have until October 31, 2021 to demonstrate that they have acquired the requested work requirement, or because they are waiting for the CSQ decision (Quebec cases).
- Not all HCWQC cases with preliminary criteria met may have been sent to MIFI at the time of this report.
All values between 0 and 5 are shown as “--”. This is done to prevent individuals from being identified when IRCC data is compiled and compared to other publicly available statistics. All other values are rounded to the closest multiple of 5 for the same reason; as a result of rounding, data may not sum to the totals indicated.
Produced by OPP-DART(Asylum Stats)
Source: IRCC-EDW (CBR) - Refreshed May 19, 2021
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