Last Updated on April 19, 2021 by Steven Meurrens

On April 14, 2021 Canada’s Immigration Minister, Marco Mendicino, announced the creation of two new immigration programs that will allow approximately 90,000 individuals to apply for permanent residence between May 6, 2021 and November 5, 2021.  I say approximately because the programs have application caps except for those with upper-basic French language capability. The programs provide an immigration opportunity for many people who previously did not qualify to immigrate.

While the application packages for the programs have yet to be released, and there are questions about some of the details, it is important that anyone who is currently in Canada and who wishes to immigrate check to see if they qualify based on the details that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) has released so far. There are also certain requirements (passing a language test, being employed) that prospective applicants may need to act on in order to qualify that they should do immediately as applicable.

The programs in brief target foreign nationals who have one year of work experience in occupations that IRCC has deemed essential, those who have graduated from a qualifying Canadian post-secondary institution and French speakers.

Program A – Permanent Residence for Foreign Nationals in Canada, outside of Quebec, with Recent Canadian Work Experience in Essential occupations

This program targets foreign nationals with at least one year of work experience in Canada in an occupation that IRCC has deemed essential.

To be eligible, the foreign national must have accumulated at least one year of full-time experience, or the equivalent in part-time experience (1,560 hours), in Canada, in an eligible occupation in the three years preceding the date when they apply for permanent residence.  The employment must have been one in which the foreign worker received wages or commission. Self-employment does not count, except for individuals working as a medical doctor in a fee-for-service arrangement with a health authority.

The foreign national must also:

  • be employed in Canada in any occupation at the time that the application for permanent residence is received. It does not need to be in the same occupation or for the same employer as what qualified them for the program;
  • have taken the IELTS, CELPIP or TEF within the last two years and obtained a level of Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in either official language for each of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. For the IELTS this means a 4.0 in Speaking, a 4.5 in Listening, a 3.5 in Reading and a 4.0 in Writing;
  • reside in Canada with valid temporary resident status (or be eligible for restoration) and be physically present in Canada both when they apply and when the application is approved; and
  • intend to reside in a province or territory other than Quebec.

IRCC has divided the eligible occupations into two Streams (also called Annexes).

Annex A are most health care related occupations, with the exception of Veterinarians and Animal Health Technologists and Veterinary Technicians. The list of job titles and applicable National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) codes includes:

  • Professional Occupations in Nursing (3011, 3012)
  • Physicians, Dentists and Veterinarians (3111, 3112, 3113)
  • Optometrists, Chiropractors and other Health Diagnosing and Treating Professionals (3121, 3122, 3124, 3125)
  • Pharmacists, Dietitians and Nutritionists (3131, 3132)
  • Therapy and Assessment Professionals (3141, 3142, 3143, 3144)
  • Medical Technologists and Technicians (3211, 3212, 3214, 3215, 3216, 3217, 3219)
  • Technical Occupations in Dental Health Care (3221, 3222, 3223)
  • Opticians, Practitioners of Natural Healing, Licensed Practical Nurses, Paramedical Occupations, Massage Therapists and Other Technical Occupations in Therapy and Assessment (3231, 3232, 3233, 3234, 3236, 3237)
  • Dental Assistants (3411)
  • Nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates (3413)
  • Other Assisting Occupations in Support of Health Services (3414)
  • Psychologists (4151)
  • Social Workers (4152)
  • Family, Marriage and other Related Counsellors (4153)
  • Health Policy Researchers, Consultants and Program Officers (4165)
  • Social and Community Service Workers (4212)
  • Home Support Workers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations (4412)

Annex B are other Essential Occupations. The list of job titles and applicable National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes includes:

  • Cashiers, Service Station Attendants, Store Shelf Stockers, Clerks and Order Fillers and other Sales Related Occupations (6611, 6621, 6622, 6623)
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Industrial, Electrical and Construction Trades and Related Workers (7201, 7202, 7203, 7204, 7205)
  • Machining, Metal Forming, Shaping and Erecting Trades (7231, 7232, 7233, 7234, 7235, 7236, 7237)
  • Electrical Trades and Electrical Power Line and Telecommunications Workers (7241, 7242, 7243, 7244, 7245, 7246, 7247)
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters and Gas Fitters (7251, 7252, 7253)
  • Carpenters and Cabinetmakers (7271, 7272)
  • Masonry and Plastering Trades (7281, 7282, 7283, 7284)
  • Roofers and Shinglers, Glaziers, Insulators, Painters and Decorators, Floor Covering Installers (7291, 7292, 7293, 7294, 7295)
  • Other Installers, Repairers and Servicers (7441, 7442, 7444, 7445)
  • Longshore Workers (7451)
  • Material Handlers (7452)
  • Trades Helpers and Labourers (7611, 7612)
  • Public works and maintenance labourers (7621)
  • Railway and Motor Transport Labourers (7622)
  • Harvesting Labourers (8611)
  • Landscaping and Grounds Maintenance Labourers (8612)
  • Aquaculture, Marine Harvest Labourers, Mine Labourers, Oil and Gas Drilling Labourers, Logging and Forestry Labourers (8611, 8612, 8613, 8614, 8615, 8616)
  • Mail and Message Distribution Occupations (1511, 1512, 1513)
  • Retail Salesperson (6421)
  • Cleaners (6421, 6731, 6732, 6733)
  • General Farm Workers (8431)
  • Nursery and Greenhouse Workers (8432)
  • Fishing Vessel Deckhands (8441)
  • Trappers and Hunters (8442)
  • Machine Operators and Related Workers in Food, Beverage and Associated Products Processing (9461, 9462, 9463, 9465)
  • Managers in Agriculture and Horticulture (0821, 0822)
  • French and French Immersion Teachers (4031, 4032)
  • Home Child Care Providers (4411)
  • Elementary and Secondary School Teacher Assistants (4413)
  • Retail Butchers (6331)
  • Airline Ticket and Service Agents (6523)
  • Ground and Water Transport Ticket Agents, Cargo Service Representatives and Related Clerks (6524)
  • Security Guards and Related Security Service Occupations (6541)
  • Customer Service Representatives – Financial Institutions (6541)
  • Other Customer Service and Information Services Representatives (6552)
  • Agricultural Service Contractors, Farm Supervisors and Specialized Livestock Workers (8252)
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Landscaping, Grounds Maintenance and Horticulture Services (8255)
  • Labourers in Food and Beverage Processing (9617)
  • Labourers in Fish and Seafood Processing (9618)

Stream A is capped at 20,000 applications.

Stream B is capped at 30,000 applications.

More details about this program can be found here.

Program B – Permanent Residence for French-Speaking Foreign Nationals in Canada, outside of Quebec, with Recent Canadian Work Experience in Essential occupations

This Program is essentially the same as the previous program, except that there is no application cap.

To qualify, in addition to the requirements of Program A, an applicant must have attained a level of proficiency of at least Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in French for each of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.

More details about this program can be found here.

Program C – Permanent Residence for Foreign Nationals in Canada, Outside of Quebec, with a Recent Credential from a Canadian Post-Secondary Institution

This program targets foreign nationals who have been granted an eligible Canadian credential and who are currently employed in Canada.

To be eligible, the foreign national must have, prior to the date on which the application for permanent residence is received, and no earlier than January 2017, have completed a program of study at one of the following types of Designated Learning Institutions:

  • a public post-secondary institution, such as a college, trade/technical school, university or in Quebec CEGEP;
  • a private post-secondary school in Quebec that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions in Quebec;
  • a private or public post-secondary institution in Quebec offering qualifying programs of 900 hours or longer leading to a diploma of vocational studies (DVS) or an attestation of vocational specialization (AVS); or
  • a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial statute to confer degrees under provincial law but only if the program of study completed was a degree as authorized by the province, which may not include all programs of study offered by the private institution.

Those who are familiar with the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program will recognize that the types of education programs leading to eligibility in this immigration program are the same as those that lead to Post-Graduate Work Permits. However, unlike with the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program, there does not appear in this immigration program to be a requirement that the applicant have continuously studied full-time for the duration of their program.

The foreign national must also have been granted one of the following credentials, following the completion of a program study from an eligible institution :

  • a degree (Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate) which must be a degree issued on completion of a program of at least 8 months in duration;
  • a degree, diploma, certificate, or attestation issued on completion of a program of any duration leading to an occupation in a skilled trade (the eligible skilled trades are listed below); or
  • a diploma, certificate or attestation where each program of study was at least eight months in duration and the combined length of the credential(s) is equivalent to a two-year credential (at least 16 month in duration)
  • for the DVS and AVS, each program of study must be at least 900 hours in duration and the combined program of study must be at least 1,800 hours in duration. When combining one AVS with one DVS, the length of the AVS may be less than 900 hours if the combined length is at least 1,800 hours.

The applicant must also:

  • have been authorized to study during their studies;
  • be employed in Canada with a valid permit or authorization to work at the time the application for permanent residence is received. Self-employment does not acount (unless they are a doctor in a fee-for-service arrangement wth a health employment).
  • have within the last two years obtained through a designated language test a level of Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in either official language for each of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. For the IELTS this means a 5.0 in Speaking, a 5.0 in Listening, a 4.5 in Reading and a 5.0 in Writing;
  • reside in Canada with valid temporary resident status (or be eligible to restore their status) and be physically present in Canada at the time the application for permanent residence is received and when the application is approved;
  • intend to reside in a province or territory other than Quebec.

For those who are qualified based on the completion of a degree, diploma, certificate or attestation issued on completion of a program of any duration leading to an occupation in a skilled trade, the qualifying skilled trades are:

  • Contractors and Supervisors, Industrial, Electrical and Construction Trades and Related Workers (7201, 7202, 7203, 7204, 7205)
  • Machining, Metal Forming, Shaping and Erecting Trades (7231, 7232, 7233, 7234, 7235, 7236, 7237)
  • Electrical Trades and Electrical Power Line and Telecommunications Workers (7241, 7242, 7243, 7244, 7245, 7246, 7247)
  • Plumbers, Pipefitters and Gas Fitters (7251, 7252, 7253)
  • Carpenters and Cabinetmakers (7271, 7272)
  • Masonry and Plastering Trades (7281, 7282, 7283, 7284)
  • Roofers and Shinglers, Glaziers, Insulators, Painters and Decorators, Floor Covering Installers (7291, 7292, 7293, 7294, 7295)
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Maintenance Trades and Heavy Equipment and Transport Operators (7301, 7302, 7303, 7304, 7305)
  • Machinery and Transportation Equipment Mechanics (except motor vehicles) (7311, 7312, 7313, 7314, 7315, 7316, 7318)
  • Automotive Service Technicians (7321, 7322)
  • Other Mechanics and Related Repairers (7311, 7322, 7333, 7334, 7335)
  • Train Crew Operating Occupations (7361, 7362)
  • Crane Operators, Drillers and Blasters (7371, 7372, 7373)
  • Printing Press Operators (7381)
  • Other Trades and Related Occupations (7384)
  • Supervisors, Logging, Forestry, Mining, Quarrying (8211, 8221)
  • Contractors and Supervisors – Oil & Gas (8222)
  • Underground Production and Development Miners (8231)
  • Oil and Gas Well Drillers, Servicers, Testers and Related Workers (8232)
  • Logging Machinery Operators (8241)
  • Supervisors and Specialized Livestock Workers (8252)
  • Contractors and Supervisors, Landscaping, Grounds Maintenance and Horticulture Services (8255)
  • Supervisors, Processing and Manufacturing Occupations (9211, 9212, 9213, 9214, 9215, 9217)
  • Supervisors, Assembly and Fabrication (9221, 9222, 9223, 9224, 9225, 9226, 9227)
  • Central Control and Process operators in Processing and Manufacturing (9231, 9232, 9235)
  • Utilities Equipment Operators and Controllers (9241, 9243)
  • Fishermen/Women (8262)
  • Chefs and Cooks (6321, 6322)
  • Butchers and Bakers (6331, 6332)

This program is capped at 40,000 people.

More details about this program can be found here.

Program D – Permanent Residence for French-Speaking Foreign Nationals in Canada, outside of Quebec, with a Recent Credential from a Canadian Post-Secondary Institution

This Program is essentially the same as the previous program, except that there is no application cap.

To qualify, in addition to the requirements of Program C, an applicant must have attained a level of proficiency of at least Canadian Language Benchmark 4 in French for each of Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.

More details about this program can be found here.

Unanswered Questions

There are many aspects of the above programs that remain unclear.

Are applicants under these programs eligible for open-bridging work permits?

Is there a minimum amount of time that someone has to be employed prior to the submission of the application or can someone get a job the day before they apply and still qualify?

The programs require that someone be working at the time of submission. Is part-time employment ok?

IRCC has previously excluded Canadian work experience obtained when someone was a full-time student from counting towards immigration. Is such work included here?

Will students who have recently graduated be able to rely on unofficial transcripts to show that they have completed their program of study?

Can applicants apply under both programs?

Can applicants apply if they have already applied under other immigration programs?

How Quickly Will the Caps Be Reached

It is difficult to predict how quickly the caps of these programs will be reached.

The factors which suggest that they will fill up quickly include that the eligibility criteria is very broad, that people who did not qualify for Post-Graduate Work Permits because they did not continuosly study full-time are eligible and that people may apply to multiple programs.

The factors which suggest that it might not be as fast as people think include that many of the people eligible for this program may have already applied for permanent residency through Express Entry or provincial nomination programs and that many people may have left Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic to return to their country of origin.

Jurisprudence on Application Caps

With the recent trend towards immigration programs that have application caps it is worth reviewing the jurisprudence around quotas.

In Agama v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2013 FC 135 an applicant was denied permanent residence under the Federal Skilled Workers Class because her application fell outside the annual cap.  Those practicing at the time will remember that there were massive delays in IRCC’s website reflecting the actual state of whether the application cap had been met, such that thousands of people applied even though the programs were full.  Ms. Agama argued that IRCC’s failure to announce when the cap was reached was a breach of procedural fairness, and that she had a legitimate expectation that her application would be processed. Justice Phelan disagreed, and stated that there was nothing to suggest that the number of applications posted on the IRCC website was true, accurate and complete such as to create a legitimate expectation in the accuracy of the number. Her application for judicial review was accordingly unsuccessful.

Hopefully IRCC has measures in place to avoid a similar debacle this time around.