The Health-Care Workers Permanent Residence Pathway was announced during August 2020 by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada [IRCC]. This recently created permanent resident program is for asylum seekers who have supported Canada’s healthcare system during the Covid-19 pandemic. Applications under this program began being accepted this week in December 2020.
The program is open until August 31, 2021, though applicants outside Quebec will have until October 31, 2021 to submit certain documents. A slightly different process is used for applicants intending to reside in Quebec, but all applicants must start by submitting their application to IRCC.
Who Qualifies for The Health-Care Workers Permanent Residence Pathway
The Health-Care Workers Permanent Residence Pathway [HCWPRP] is for refugee claimants who made their claim for protection in Canada before March 13, 2020, and who either have had their claim refused, or whose claim has not yet been decided.
Applicants must have a total of either 6 months full-time work, or 750 part-time hours, in a qualifying health-care related job in Canada. At least 120 of those hours must have been between March 13 and August 14, 2020. If you don’t yet have all the hours needed, you have until August 2021 to get them.
These jobs include various nurses, patient services workers, primary health practitioners, and some home support workers. For many hospital maintenance workers, additional support staff, or home caregivers who worked with Covid-19 patients, it may be hard to tell whether you qualify. It will ultimately come down to the details or your situation and your day-to-day work duties.
Applicants also need to ensure that their work was authorized (e.g. under a work permit). Some unauthorized work may still be eligible, in limited circumstances. However, unauthorized work it still a violation of Canada’s immigration system, so applicants should ensure they have valid work permits if possible.
How to Apply for The Health-Care Workers Permanent Residence Pathway
The Health-Care Workers Permanent Residence Pathway “HCWPRP” is part of Canada’s discretionary humanitarian immigration. Applications should be made to the Humanitarian Migration Office in Vancouver, and envelopes should be marked either “Health-Care Worker – HCW” or “Health-Care Worker – HCWQC”, depending on whether you intend to reside in Quebec or not.
The IRCC also has a specific form and documents list for people applying through the HCWPRP. Among other things, applicants need some proof of their employment. For many people, this will be a reference letter from their employer.
There are some specific requirements for these reference letters. Not only do that have to confirm the hours and dates of your employment, but they also include the appropriate National Occupation Code [NOC] for your job, a list of responsibilities and duties, and a description of your employer’s business. Getting these letters right will be an essential part of these applications.
Other items applicants can submit for proof of their work experience include proof of relevant education and training, union membership, work contracts and paystubs.
The program includes fees of $1050 per adult, and $150 per dependent child.
Other Considerations: Status of Refugee Claim (e.g. Undecided, Refused, On Hold)
If your refugee claim is undecided, it will be put on hold when to apply to the HCWPRP. If your refugee claim was denied and you want to appeal it, doing so does not prevent you from also applying for the HCWPRP. However, if your claim was denied, applying for the HWPRP does not prevent your removal from Canada.
The HCWPRP allows certain family members of applicants to apply as well. If your spouse or common-law partner might have been eligible, but has passed away due to Covid-19, you may still be able to apply. In some cases, you may have to wait until after becoming a permanent resident to sponsor close family.
If you intend to live in Quebec, additional steps and possibly new documents will be required. Make sure to review the requirements of the HCWPRP before applying. You may want to consult with or get assistance from a Canadian immigration lawyer.