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Ottawa opens new pathway to permanent status for temporary essential workers and graduates

  • April 14, 2021

The federal government will introduce a new pathway to permanent residency for foreign nationals working in Canada in essential jobs such as personal support and health services, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced today.

The new policy will allow up to 90,000 workers and international graduates already in Canada to convert their temporary status to permanent status, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a news release.

“Since COVID-19 first arrived on our shores, we have charted a course guided by one north star — that immigration is key to Canada’s short term economic recovery and long term prosperity,” Mendicino told a virtual news conference today.

“Fundamentally, we know that by attracting and retaining the best and the brightest … we will add more jobs, growth and diversity to our economy.”

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced a new policy today that will allow up to 90,000 temporary foreign workers who work in essential jobs to convert their temporary status to permanent residency. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

To be eligible for the new pathway, workers must have at least one year of Canadian work experience in one of 40 different health care jobs or 95 other pre-approved essential jobs. Graduates must have completed an eligible Canadian post-secondary program over the last four years.

The department didn’t provide a list of occupations that are deemed essential, although it said they’re in multiple fields, such as caregiving and food production and distribution.

Mendicino called the new policy a “broad, fast and innovative path” to permanent residency that focuses on jobs that are vital to the Canadian economy. 

“This isn’t just about giving people a new piece of paper. We’re creating a pathway for newcomers that will strengthen their job security, expand their career horizons and encourage them to put down deeper roots in our communities where they are giving back,” Mendicino said.

Applications accepted through three streams

Eligible workers and graduates will be able to apply for permanent status through three streams between May 6, 2021 and Nov. 5, 2021. The department will take up to 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care, 30,000 applications for temporary workers in the essential job category and 40,000 applications for international students.

All applicants must be proficient in either English or French, and a certain portion of spots will be reserved for French-speaking or bilingual candidates.

The department says the new policy will help the government achieve its goal of welcoming 401,000 new permanent residents to the country.

Mendicino was joined at the press conference by a group of professionals, three of whom immigrated to Canada and now work in health care.

Shailadi Gupta is originally from India but has worked as a registered nurse in Canada since 2011. She spoke about receiving permanent status in 2013, saying it allowed her to purchase a home with lower interest rates, go back to university while paying lower tuition fees and start her own business.

“A change in status is transformational for temporary foreign workers in many ways,” said Gupta. “Instead of packing suitcases and returning back to their countries or becoming discouraged and ending up working at Tim Horton’s, they can actually put down roots here in Canada and more fully contribute in Canada in a wide range of roles, including in our hospitals and care homes.”

Goldie Hyder, president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, issued a statement welcoming the announcement. 

“COVID-19-related restrictions have hit Canada’s immigration system hard, significantly reducing the number of newcomers entering the country,” said Hyder. 

“The minister’s plan addresses this challenge by welcoming urgently needed talent.”

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