Canada Permanent Residence Pathway In Works For Undocumented Migrants, Says IRCC

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Canada immigration news: Canada is working on a new pathway for undocumented workers to become permanent residents, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has confirmed.

But the immigration department is refusing to divulge either what form that new pathway will take, how many applicants it will admit to Canada, or when it might be unveiled. 

“We cannot speculate on future program or policy decisions,” replied IRCC spokesperson Michelle Carbert in an email to 

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The IRCC spokesperson would only confirm work is underway and the immigration department is working with academic experts and industry stakeholders, including the Canadian Council for Refugees and Migrant Rights Network.

“IRCC will be informing our future policy decisions based on the lessons learned through recent innovative programs that have tested new approaches and successfully transitioned individuals in Canada on a temporary status or with no status to permanent residency,” wrote Carbert. 

“Most notably, programs such as the Guardian Angels, the Out-of-Status Construction Workers Pilot, and the pathway to permanent residence for temporary workers and international graduates.”

The Guardian Angels special pathway was quickly put in place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, between December 2020 and August 2021, for refugee claimants who were then already providing direct patient care in the health sector. 

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“Once we confirmed that applicants were eligible and had the required work experience for this program, also known as Guardian Angels, any removal order under which they were referred was suspended until a final decision is made on their candidacy,” said Carbert.

The temporary public policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers in Toronto is another pathway to permanent residency. 

It was launched in 2020 and then extended through to Jan. 2 next year – or until 500 applicants and their family members have been granted permanent residence, whichever comes first.

That pathway recognizes the economic contributions of these workers and aims to address their vulnerability due to their lack of immigration status, said Carbert.

New Pathway To Build On Success Of Pilot Programs To Retain Temporary Residents

“The government is working with the Canadian Labour Congress, who refers applicants who have a strong likelihood of meeting the eligibility requirements of the public policy to IRCC,” she said. “Eligible applicants may apply for a temporary resident permit and an open work permit to remain and continue working in Canada while their permanent resident application is processed and finalized.”

Last year, the IRCC also launched the one-time Temporary Resident-to-Permanent Resident (TR-to-PR) pathway which was open to accept 90,000 temporary workers and international graduates already in Canada. 

News of the current pathway under development by Immigration Minster Sean Fraser and his team at the IRCC was first broken by the Toronto Star who quoted an anonymous source 

With the new pathway, the IRCC is hoping to tap into an already existing trend of temporary residents applying for – and getting – permanent residence in Canada. 

Last year, almost 169,000 foreign nationals who had been in Canada with work permits gained their permanent residency, making up roughly 41.6 per cent of all new permanent residents to Canada in 2021.

“Additionally, more than 157,000 former international students became permanent residents in 2021, a new record, including more than 88,000 who transitioned directly from a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) to permanent status,” said Carbert.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, IRCC will continue to explore new avenues to help more foreign nationals already living in Canada to make this their permanent home.

“This is an opportunity for us to look at best practices and lessons learned from our previous experiences to ensure the most inclusive and effective public policy.”

Number Of Undocumented Migrants Unknown But Estimated At 500,000

No-one knows for sure how many undocumented migrants are living in Canada.

“A guesstimate of about half a million has been proposed nationally, but this number varies among other sources which suggest anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000 undocumented workers,” said a study first published in 2010. 

In a letter calling on the immigration minister to create a new pathway for undocumented migrants in Canada, Unifor – the same union which represents Toronto Star journalists – suggests there may be many more of these people in Canada.

“In order for these permanent residency pathway and regularization programs to make a real difference in the lives of the over 1.7 million migrants currently without secure status in Canada, they must be made as open and accessible as possible,” wrote Unifor national president Lana Payne in that letter dated Aug. 30 this year.

Certainly, many people have crossed the border into Canada at unauthorized border crossings in the past decade or so but official record keeping only goes back as far as 2017. 

In the first six months of this year alone, the IRCC estimates 30,238 asylum seekers came into Canada and made refugee claims through these unauthorized border crossings, 24,811 of which are still pending. 

Last year, an estimated 79,052 such asylum seekers came in at these crossings, with 64,254 of those still pending. 

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