Sas and Ing response to COVID-19 READ

Posted on - Apr 22, 2021

By Catherine A. Sas Q.C. and Preet Gill

Catherine Sas Q.C.

Preet Gill

“The pandemic has shone a bright light on the incredible contributions of newcomers. These new policies will help those with a temporary status to plan their future in Canada, play a key role in our economic recovery and help us build back better. Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting—and we want you to stay.”

The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, P.C., M.P., Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (“IRCC”)

On April 16, 2021, Canada’s Immigration Minister, The Honorable Marco Mendicino announced new, progressive pathways to Canadian Permanent Residence status for up to 90,000 temporary workers in health care, and in essential occupations as well as international graduates who are currently in Canada. The new policies extend to temporary foreign workers in 40 health-care-related occupations, such as nurses, social workers, and doctors, as well as workers in 95 other occupations, which include a variety of essential occupations ranging from cashiers to caregivers, and factory workers.

Recognizing that the Covid-19 pandemic has compromised Canada’s economic growth, the new policies aim to appreciate those foreign nationals already in Canada who have been actively contributing to our economy during this challenging time. The countless difficulties presented by Covid-19, have highlighted the significant contributions and positive impact of immigrants within our communities, especially those working within Canada’s health care system and other critically important occupations.

In October 2020, IRCC announced the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan to support our economic recovery through increasing immigration to Canada. IRCC announced a target of 401,000 foreign nationals would be granted Canadian Permanent Residence in 2021. These new policies are designed to assist in meeting these immigration targets.

Under these newly announced pathways for essential temporary workers and skilled international graduates, IRCC intends to grant permanent residence to 90,000 eligible applicants who are currently in Canada. For temporary worker applicants to take advantage of the new pathway for temporary workers in health care and essential occupations, they are required to have a minimum of 1 year of full-time or equivalent part-time Canadian work experience within the previous three years. This work experience must be in a recognized health care profession or other listed essential occupation. For a list of the eligible occupations, please see this link: Eligible Occupations. International graduates must show completion of an eligible Canadian post-secondary program within the previous 4 years, which was completed no earlier than January of 2017.

Applicants will be able to submit their applications electronically to IRCC as of May 6, 2021, until November 5, 2021, or until the maximum intake caps have been reached. The intake caps under each of the new streams will likely be met much sooner than the application closing deadline due to the high level of interest and low eligibility thresholds to qualify

IRCC will be accepting 90,000 applications under the following categories:

  1. Temporary workers in health care: 20,000 applications will be accepted;
  2. Temporary workers in other selected essential occupations: 30,000 applications will be accepted; and
  3. International graduate students: 40,000 students will be accepted.

In addition to the 90,000 new immigrants under these pathways, the Minister is also is encouraging French-speaking nationals or bilingual candidates to apply under these streams as the intake limits will not apply to them. This initiative is in line with the Federal Government’s goal of supporting French-speaking communities and retaining French-speaking nationals who are living and working outside Quebec.

Eligible applicants under the two temporary worker streams must be able to demonstrate English or French language proficiency at a basic Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 4 or higher, and international graduates must demonstrate language proficiency at a CLB 5 or higher.

In addition to language proficiency, both temporary workers and international graduates applying under the new pathways must demonstrate that they are currently present in Canada with valid temporary status (or be eligible to have their status reinstated), be employed in Canada, and meet IRCC’s general admissibility requirements.

These eligibility thresholds are notably lower than other permanent residence streams; however, it could prove to be challenging to take advantage of this sudden opportunity without advance preparation, as prospective applicants need to have a valid language test. Since the Minister’s announcement, most language testing centers in Canada are full for the next several months.

With the application acceptance date fast approaching, individuals seeking to apply should work towards ensuring they are prepared and meet the eligibility requirements. Individuals should make sure they have a valid and updated language proficiency test as well as proof of employment, i.e., a reference letter from their employer that is consistent with the National Occupation Code (“NOC”) of one of the pre-approved essential occupations. For more information abuse the reference letter please refer to our blog: Immigration Essentials – Getting the Reference Letter Right!

International graduates should also ensure that they can demonstrate that they have a certificate of completion from an eligible Canadian post-secondary program, which are essentially those programs that meet the criteria for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (“PGWP”).

Although Covid-19 has created uncertainty for many foreign nationals, these new immigration pathways allow prospective immigrants to create a rewarding future for themselves in Canada. As the Honorable Minister Mendicino stated in his announcement, these skilled newcomers and international graduates will stimulate long-term growth in Canada.

Temporary workers employed in the healthcare field and skilled international graduates have been and will continue to be essential to Canada’s economic growth and, in turn, Canada is undeniably committed to supporting them by opening these new pathways to Canadian permanent residence.


Catherine Sas, Q.C. is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada. Catherine has been practicing law for over 30 years, and has been voted Vancouver’s Best Immigration Lawyer by the Georgia Straight newspaper for 9 consecutive years.


To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Catherine Sas or call her at 1-604-689-5444.

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