Canada immigration news: Canada is thinking of extending a program due to expire on Nov. 5 that gives temporary foreign workers an opportunity to become permanent residents, says Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.
That new pathway was announced in May and was for up to 90,000 international students, health care workers and other workers in essential occupations who want to get their permanent residency in Canada.
The new pathway opened the door for up to 20,000 new permanent residents in the healthcare sector but more than 14,000 of those spots so far remain unfilled, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data shows.
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Mendicino is now mulling over the idea of extending the program and opening it up to refugees.
“I think we should keep an open mind as to whether or not we should extend (the deadline),” Mendicino reportedly told Reuters in an interview.
“I am always going to keep an open mind about searching for whatever policy promotes the greatest outcomes for our refugees, our immigrants and our country and its economy.”
Immigration Falling Short of 401,000 Target
Canada is bullish on immigration and is hoping to welcome more than 1.2 million newcomers between 2021 and 2023 with 401,000 new permanent residents to Canada in 2021, 411,000 in 2022 and 421,000 in 2023.
“Immigration is essential to getting us through the pandemic, but also to our short-term economic recovery and our long-term economic growth,” Mendicino has said. “Canadians have seen how newcomers are playing an outsized role in our hospitals and care homes, and helping us to keep food on the table.
“As we look to recovery, newcomers create jobs not just by giving our businesses the skills they need to thrive, but also by starting businesses themselves,” he said. “Our plan will help to address some of our most acute labour shortages and to grow our population to keep Canada competitive on the world stage.
Despite its open arms to foreign nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada, Ottawa has so far fallen far short of its intended target. There were only 222,275 new permanent residents to Canada in the first eight months of 2021, a year plagued with Covid-19 border closures and travel restrictions.
At this rate of 27,784 new permanent residents to Canada per month, Canada could close the year with only 333,412 new permanent residents, or about 16.9 per cent short of its goal.
Majority of New Permanent Residents Were Temporary Workers
During the first eight months of this year, about 70 per cent of new permanent residents to the country have been Temporary Foreign Workers.
Under the pathway to permanent residency announced earlier this year, international students who graduated from a Canadian institution, health care workers and those in other designated essential occupations can get their permanent residency in Canada.
But they have to be legally working in Canada at the time of their application and maintain their temporary resident status until a decision is made on their permanent residence application.
In its bid to keep these people in Canada, many of whom had temporary work permits set to expire, Ottawa agreed earlier this year to issue them new open work permits.
“This new open work permit ensures that those who have been playing critical roles throughout the pandemic can continue their extraordinary service,” said Mendicino at that time. “Our message to them is simple: your status may be temporary, but your contributions are lasting – and we want you to stay.”
Open Work Permits Under New Pathway Valid Until End 2022
The open work permits so far issued under this temporary policy are valid until the end of next year.
To qualify for this one-time open work permit, applicants must show that they:
- have successfully submitted an application under one of the new permanent residence pathway’s streams;
- held a valid work permit, or were authorized to work without a work permit, at the time their permanent residence application was submitted;
- hold a valid work permit that is set to expire within the next four months;
- have temporary resident status, maintained status or were eligible to restore their status at the time their open work permit application is submitted;
- are in Canada at the time their open work permit application is submitted;
- were employed in any occupation at the time their permanent residence application was submitted, and;
- meet the language requirements of the stream under which they applied at the time their permanent residence application was submitted.
The applicant’s spouse or common-law partner and dependent children 18 years or older are also eligible to apply for an open work permit under this policy, if they are already in Canada.
The new pathway to immigration accepts:
- 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care;
- 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations, and;
- 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from an eligible Canadian institution.
In all, the new streams draw on workers in 40 healthcare occupations and 95 other essential jobs, including caregiver, food production, and distribution worker.