The good news is that the government of Canada is expanding its program for out-of-status or undocumented workers, as they are more commonly known, to apply for permanent residency. The bad news is that the program is limited to those living in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and working in the construction trade.
The expansion follows a pilot project launched in 2019 named the Temporary Public Policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers, open to 500 eligible applicants. The expansion announced on January 20, 2023, and scheduled to run till January 2, 2024, will grant permanent residency to a thousand applicants. The program may close when it reaches its target of 1000 applicants or on the closing date, whichever comes first, explains Julie Lafortune, Communications Advisor, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), in an email to Immigrant Muse.
The IRCC website defines the GTA as the City of Toronto, the Peel, Durham, York and Halton regions.
Lafortune adds that under the program, those with “significant work experience in construction occupations in the Greater Toronto Area, family members in Canada, a referral letter from the Canadian Labour Congress and no reason for being inadmissible other than overstaying their visa and working without authorization may be able to apply for permanent residence in Canada.”
Meanwhile, the IRCC website states that to be eligible, applicants must:
- have entered Canada as a legal temporary resident and currently have no status;
- live in Canada and have been resident for at least five years;
- have the right work experience;
- have family in Canada;
- be referred by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC); and,
- be otherwise admissible to Canada.
However, pending refugee claimants or those with denied asylum applications cannot apply.
Those who meet the eligibility criteria must apply through the CLC.
When requesting permanent residency status, candidates must prove that they are employed and that their experience is from within the GTA construction trade and fall under the 2021 National Occupational Classifications (NOC) groups 72, 73 and 75. In addition, applicants should have accumulated a minimum of 4,680 hours in the past five years, either through full-time or part-time employment or a combination of the two.
Under the family living in Canada category, apart from a spouse, common-law partner or child, those with extended family who are Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents are eligible. They may include their family members in the application; however, such members must also apply for a work or study permit or a temporary residence permit (TRP) as necessary. Applicants who are not of school age also require a TRP.
While the pilot project is limited to construction workers within the GTA, Lafortune states that the government continues to “explore ways to build off of the success of this initiative and others to regularize the status of undocumented workers contributing to Canadian society.” One such was the Guardian Angels program, which allowed asylum seekers working in the healthcare sector during the Covid 19 pandemic to apply for permanent residency. The program was open to eligible candidates across Canada and ran from December 2020 and August 2021.