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I don’t have permanent status in Canada. Will I qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

I don’t have permanent status in Canada. Will I qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

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I don’t have permanent status in Canada. Will I qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?
May 22, 2020

The Government of Canada has created a tool to help you figure out which COVID-19 benefits you might qualify for. The tool does not guarantee that you'll be eligible. But it's a good place to start.

COVID-19 Benefits
COVID-19 Benefits

Use this chart to learn about the eligibility rules and what's available under each program.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) gives up to $2,000 every four weeks to some workers who have stopped working or who are now earning less than $1,000 a month because of COVID-19. You can find details about who will qualify and what you need to apply here.

You might qualify for CERB if you aren’t a Canadian citizen or permanent resident but there are other requirements you have to meet.

Rules about income

To qualify for CERB, you must have earned at least $5,000 in the past 12 months or in 2019. This income can include employment, self employment, and provincial or federal maternity or parental leave benefits. You may have earned the income outside of Canada, but you have to live in Canada when you apply.

Social Insurance Number

Applicants must provide a valid social insurance number (SIN) to apply for CERB.

If you have temporary status in Canada, you’re only eligible for CERB if you’re legally allowed to work. People with temporary status get a temporary SIN that starts with 9. You can use this number to apply for CERB.

For example, you have temporary status if you are:

  • an international student
  • a refugee claimant or failed claimant who has made an appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division or Federal Court
  • an applicant for permanent residence that has been “Approved in Principle”

Other requirements

For international students, your study permit must state that you can also work in Canada. If your study permit doesn’t allow employment, you might need to show you have a separate valid work permit.

If you have an expired work permit but you applied to renew it before it expired, this gives you “implied” immigration status while you wait for your new work permit. But implied status doesn’t extend the expiry date of your temporary SIN. You have to apply to update your temporary SIN once you get your new work permit. Then you should qualify for CERB, as long as you meet the other requirements.

Family Sponsorship

If you receive CERB, you can sponsor your spouse or family member if you meet all the requirements. CERB is not considered social assistance.


Right now, the government is processing applications for CERB quickly and without requiring supporting documentation. But you’ll have to pay the money back in the future if you are found not eligible at a later date.

If you don’t qualify for CERB, you might be eligible for financial assistance from Ontario Works.

If you have questions, contact your local community legal clinic or the Migrant Rights Network.

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