CIMM - Guardian Angels (Asylum Claimants Working on the Front Lines) - Mar 8, 2021
In recognition of their exceptional contribution to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic, on December 14, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada 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 to this special measure.
As of February 6, 2021, the Department has received a total of 978 applications, reflecting 2525 persons, including dependents. So far, 239 principal applicants have been approved in principle. A decision has not yet been made on the remaining applications.
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. These reports were followed by a May 25, 2020, announcement by Quebec Premier Legault, that he would consider allowing asylum claimants working in Quebec’s long-term care centres to regularize their status.
In November 2020, Premier Legault signaled a desire to consider broadening the types of occupations to other essential workers in the healthcare sector; however, a few days later he publically closed the door to this possibility.
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 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 Federal Court application or appeal at the Federal Court of Appeal of the underlying decision of the IRB, 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 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada 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.
As with all Humanitarian & Compassionate programs, and in line with the Government’s commitment to family reunification, in-Canada family members of the principal applicant can be included in the application and granted permanent residency, if the principal applicant is approved.
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.
Family is defined according to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations 1(3), as:
the spouse or common-law partner of the person;
a dependent child of the person or of the person’s spouse or common-law partner; and
a dependent child of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b).
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 Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada will put claims and appeals of eligible applicants with a pending claim on hold until a decision on their permanent residence application under this special measure is rendered.
The number of individuals working in Quebec’s health sector is unknown; however, some media reports indicate that approximately 800 to 2,000 asylum seekers have been working in healthcare support services in that province since 2017-2018.
It is believed that many of these individuals may be Haitian nationals who entered Canada irregularly, between ports of entry (i.e. Roxham Road), and have been working legally while awaiting a decision on their asylum claim.
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 relatively high.
These are the statistics related to admissions we have as of January 23, 2021: