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Canada launches Immigration Programs for Refugees Working in Canada’s Healthcare


Recognizing the considerable contribution and sacrifice health-care workers have made in Canada throughout the pandemic, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced today that on December 14, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will begin accepting applications for permanent residence from refugee claimants who work in Canada’s health-care sector and provide direct care to patients.

On August 14, 2020, Minister Mendicino announced the Government’s intention to implement this special measure. Two temporary public policies have since been developed—one for refugees living in Canada outside Quebec, and the other for refugee claimants residing in Quebec. Under the Canada-Quebec Accord, Quebec has sole responsibility for the selection of economic immigrants and resettled refugees destined to the province.

Further to the criteria to qualify announced in August, and in recognition that there may be refugee claimants 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.

In addition, applicants’ internship experience (both paid and unpaid) will be considered, as long as it is an essential part of a post-secondary study program or vocational training program in one of the designated occupations. An internship performed as part of a professional order requirement in one of the designated occupations will also be considered.

To apply, applicants residing across Canada (outside Quebec) must submit an application for permanent residence to IRCC. The department will assess eligibility and ensure that admissibility requirements are met. Applicants may then be granted permanent residence.

Applicants residing in Quebec must first submit an application for permanent residence to IRCC. Once IRCC has determined they meet the requirements, the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration du Québec will validate whether the applicants meet the requirements under the Special program for asylum seekers during the COVID-19 period and will issue a Quebec Selection Certificate. IRCC will grant permanent residence to applicants once all eligibility requirements are met.

Applications will be accepted from December 14, 2020, until August 31, 2021. In-Canada family members of the principal applicant can be included on the application. All applicants will be required to meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminality, security and health.

“Today, we recognize the dedication of the many asylum seekers who have raised their hand to serve as we live through a unique and unprecedented situation. Canadians are appreciative of asylum seekers and the work they are doing during the pandemic. Thanks to this special measure, we are recognizing their significant contribution by providing them with a more secure future in Canada.”

—The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“The purpose of the special program for asylum seekers during the COVID-19 period is to recognize the exceptional contribution of asylum seekers who worked on the front line, with people who were sick and with our seniors, during the first wave of the health crisis.

This program, which is a product of the collaboration between the government of Quebec and the federal government, will allow for these people to be selected and granted permanent residence, so they can continue their essential contribution to health care and integrate fully into Quebec society.”

—Nadine Girault, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, and Minister of Immigration, Francization and Integration of Quebec

“We welcome these special measures for refugee claimants who have stepped up to serve our communities during these unprecedented times. Together with our federal, provincial and territorial colleagues, we strive to support newcomers to participate and succeed within a welcoming Canadian society.”

—The Honourable Arlene Dunn, New Brunswick’s Minister Responsible for Immigration, and Provincial-Territorial Co-Chair of the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration

Quick facts

  • Among other criteria, individuals eligible for consideration under these public policies must
    • be a refugee claimant, with either a failed or pending refugee claim, who claimed asylum before March 13, 2020, and continued to reside in Canada when their application for permanent residence under this public policy was made
    • have been issued a work permit after they made their refugee claim
    • have worked 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 to seniors and persons with disabilities in private homes
    • have a Quebec Selection Certificate, if wishing to reside in Quebec, and
    • meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminality, security and health
  • Some refugee claimants would be excluded from applying, including those who have been found ineligible to have their refugee claim referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, or who have withdrawn or abandoned their claims.
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