COVID-19 opportunity

Temporary policy for health care workers


arco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has announced new measures that allow refugee claimants working in the health-care sector and those who provide direct care to patients to apply for permanent residence. The announcement, made December 9, 2020, recognizes the enormous contributions and sacrifices made by these individuals to the health care sector of Canada during the pandemic months of March to August, 2020.

On August 14, 2020 when the minister announced the intent of the government to implement special measures respecting volunteer, internship and work being contributed by refugee claimants within the health-care sector, it was expected to result in the development of public policies to assist individuals within the province of Quebec and those living anywhere else in Canada. Today’s announcement confirmed the implementation of two public policies from December 14, 2020 to August 31, 2021: one for refugee claimants living inside Quebec and the other for refugee claimants living anywhere in Canada, outside Quebec.

Who is eligible

On December 14, 2020, IRCC will begin accepting permanent residence applications from refugee claimants working in the health care sector, including the spouses and common-law spouses of those who had been working in the sector but have unfortunately died from Covid-19. These individuals are refugee claimants who would have arrived in Canada before August 14, 2020 and have responded to the call for help in the health-care sector during the Covid-19 crisis.

These public policies also include refugee claimants studying in a post-secondary institution where either a paid or unpaid internship was an essential component of their study or vocational program. Such programs must be within one of the designated occupations. Likewise, an internship, paid or unpaid, and performed as a mandatory component to achieve professional designation must also have been from a designated occupation.

What to do

To qualify for permanent residence, refugee claimants must:

  • Have filed a claim (failed or pending) for asylum prior to March 13, 2020;
  • Have been issued a work permit after filing the claim for asylum;
  • Have worked in the health-care sector in institutions such as: hospitals, public or private long-term care homes and assisted care facilities; for an organization or agency providing home or residential health care to seniors or persons with disabilities in private homes;
  • Have worked for no less than 120 hours between March 13, 2020 and August 14, 2020 in one of the following designated occupations: orderlies, assistant orderlies, nurses, nurses’ aides, patient service associates and certain home support workers;
  • Provide evidence of having at least six months of experience in the designated occupation before permanent residence is granted. This experience can be acquired up to August 31, 2021;
  • Have continued to reside in Canada at the time the application for permanent residence under these public policies was submitted;
  • Meet admissibility requirements currently in force relating to criminality, security and medical.

Individuals not eligible to apply:

  • Refugees whose claims were found to be ineligible to be referred to the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB);
  • Refugees who have either withdrawn or abandoned their claims.

Applicants living outside Quebec and wishing to participate in this special measure must complete the application package and submit it to IRCC, after which the application will be assessed by officers to determine eligibility and admissibility. Quebec has its own immigration program along with rules and criteria regarding the public policy.

Family members of principal applicants who are already in Canada may be included in the applications. All family members along with the applicant are subject to assessment factors that include background checks for criminality, medical examination, and security, and for the principal applicant, requisite work performed in one of the designated occupations. Permanent residence may then be granted to such persons and their family members.

Applications will be accepted by IRCC from December 14, 2020 to August 31, 2021.

If you qualify, you need to get your application started right away. For assistance in preparing an application package and submitting it to IRCC, contact Upper Canada Immigration at (647) 988-3846 or by e-mail at:


Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Today, we recognize the dedication of the many asylum seekers who have raised their hand to serve as we live through a unique and unprecedented situation. Canadians are appreciative of asylum seekers and the work they are doing during the pandemic. Thanks to this special measure, we are recognizing their significant contribution by providing them with a more secure future in Canada.”
Nadine Girault, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, and Minister of Immigration, Francization and Integration of Quebec
“The purpose of the special program for asylum seekers during the COVID-19 period is to recognize the exceptional contribution of asylum seekers who worked on the front line, with people who were sick and with our seniors, during the first wave of the health crisis. This program, which is a product of the collaboration between the government of Quebec and the federal government, will allow for these people to be selected and granted permanent residence, so they can continue their essential contribution to health care and integrate fully into Quebec society.”
Arlene Dunn, New Brunswick Minister Responsible for Immigration, and Provincial-Territorial Co-Chair of the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration
“We welcome these special measures for refugee claimants who have stepped up to serve our communities during these unprecedented times. Together with our federal, provincial and territorial colleagues, we strive to support newcomers to participate and succeed within a welcoming Canadian society.”