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New Residency Program For Refugees Working as Frontline Healthcare Workers

New Residency Program For Refugees Working as Frontline Healthcare Workers

Effective December 14, refugee claimants working as frontline healthcare workers in Canada will be able to submit applications for residency. 

The temporary program, initially unveiled in August, will be effective from December 14, 2020, to August 31, 2021. It allows frontline healthcare workers, with either pending or failed refugee claims, to apply for Canadian permanent residence. 


All throughout the pandemic, there have been stories of frontline healthcare workers, with precarious immigration status, risking their safety to provide assistance and comfort to sick Canadians. Many of these workers are asylum seekers and are doing jobs that would be difficult for most of us in the best of times, like working in longterm care facilities.  

Many felt that these workers deserved recognition for their efforts and the government created a temporary program to address the immigration needs of this community. 

New details about the program

The announcement today from IRCC clarified a few details of the program that were unclear from the first announcement in August. 

The program will allow for spouses and children of healthcare workers to apply if their family member has died. The family must have landed in Canada prior to August 14, 2020, to submit an application on behalf of their lost relative.

Internship experience, both paid and unpaid, can count towards eligible for work experience. In order to claim internship experience, it must be an essential component of your post-secondary/vocational training or certification process for the designated occupations. 

Eligible occupations 

  • 3011 – Nursing co-ordinators and supervisors
  • 3012 – Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
  • 3233 – Licensed practical nurses
  • 3413 – Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
  • 3124 – Allied primary health practitioners
  • 4412 – Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations

For home support workers to be eligible for the program, they must provide direct care to patients. This can include providing company, assisting with personal hygiene, providing meals, and changing bedding.  

Requirements to qualify for the for asylum seekers in Canada program

To qualify for the program, individuals must meet all of the following criteria:

  • have claimed asylum before March 13, 2020
  • were issued a work permit after they made a claim for asylum
  • have worked in the healthcare sector, in health institutions (for example, hospitals, longterm care homes, home care through an organization or agency, assisted living facilities)
  • have worked in a designated occupation for no less than 120 hours between March 13, 2020, and August 14, 2020. 
  • demonstrate six months of experience in a designated occupation before being granted permanent residence (applicants will have until August 31, 2021, to acquire this experience)
  • have a Certificat de sélection du Québec (CSQ), if wishing to reside in Quebec
  • meet existing admissibility requirements, including those related to criminality, security and health 

Does the program go far enough? 

Many refugee and asylum advocates have been critical of the program because of the narrow selection criteria. The eligible occupations exclude many direct frontline workers who may be directly or indirectly involved with patient care. These workers put the health and safety of Canadians first. All while risking their own safety, and the safety of their families, to provide essential services to Canadians. 

The federal government had initially wanted to include other workers, apart from frontline healthcare workers, but Quebec resisted these efforts. 

Among those notably left out of the program are food service workers, security guards, janitorial workers, and transportation personnel. 

Adam Pinsky

Adam Pinsky has a keen interest in all things immigration and has been working in the industry for 11 years.

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