Published on: May 07, 2021
Beginning on May 6 and lasting until November 5, people studying or working in Canada will have six new pathways through which to apply for permanent residence. These new pathways reflect the nation's need for workers in a number of vital economic sectors and could smooth the path to permanent residence for tens of thousands of workers, students, recent graduates and their families.
Immigration policy plays a vital role in Canada's response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been faced with the challenge of balancing public health with the need to maintain the supply of workers in health care and other essential fields. In addition, immigration will be crucial to rebuilding the Canadian economy in the wake of the damage done by the pandemic.
In addition to the problems created by Covid-19, IRCC has long-standing policy goals to achieve. One of these is to improve the number of French-speakers immigrating to Canada. Francophone immigrants provide vital services for Canada's French-speaking population and play a crucial role in protecting the nation's linguistic heritage.
The six new pathways to permanent residence reflect these dual challenges. They consist of three new ways to apply for all applicants, and three which are reserved for immigrants who can demonstrate French proficiency.
The pathways that are open to all applicants cover crucial areas related both to the Covid crisis and to Canada's economy overall. They include a pathway for temporary workers working in health care, another for temporary workers working in other essential industries, and a third for international students or recent graduates. Each pathway has a maximum number of applicants, and will close when all its spaces have been filled, even if this is before the November 5 deadline. For health care workers, the maximum number is 20,000; for other essential workers, it's 30,000. 40,000 applicants from among international students or recent graduates bring the total up to 90,000.
In order to qualify for these programs, applicants in the health care or essential worker categories must have a year's experience in a qualifying field. In addition, they must intend to reside in a province other than Quebec and must demonstrate a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 4 in either English or French. International students must have graduated since January 2017, achieve a CLB of 5, and be currently working in Canada. Like health care and essential workers, they must intend to reside outside Quebec.
The qualifications needed for applicants to the French-speaking pathways are similar, but with a small number of crucial differences. First, applicants will need to demonstrate a Niveau de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) of at least 4, or 5 in the case of international graduates. This means that only those with qualifying scores in French will be eligible. Secondly, there is no cap on the number of applicants to the French-speaking pathways, making this a very appealing option for aspiring permanent residents who can demonstrate the necessary language skills. In addition, there are some minor differences in the range of occupations that qualify for the pathway. The inclusion of French teachers on the list reflects the high demand for qualified French-language instructors outside Quebec.
The application window for the Francophone pathways will remain open until the November deadline regardless of the number of applications received.
These new pathways offer new opportunities for many international workers and students to become Canadian residents, and are sure to be in high demand. They also reflect the immigration priorities of the government, which seeks to ensure a supply of qualified professionals in areas crucial both to Canada's economic recovery and to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.
IRCC's current immigration targets are highly ambitious; the government has set itself the goal of welcoming over 400,000 new immigrants in 2021. This high level reflects not only a desire to ensure a healthy workforce and tax base, but also an acknowledgement that the pandemic led to 2020's immigration numbers being well below targets. By making it easier for applicants in sorely-needed jobs to stay in Canada, IRCC speeds up the process for these new residents and protects crucial areas of the nation's workforce.