I made a refugee claim and worked in healthcare during COVID-19. Can I apply for PR?

The federal government announced that on December 14, 2020, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will start accepting applications for permanent residence from some refugee claimants who work in Canada's healthcare sector and provide direct care to patients. Different rules apply for applicants living in Quebec.

To be eligible for permanent residence through the program, you must have made your refugee claim before March 13, 2020. You also must:

  • have remained in Canada since you made your refugee claim,
  • have received a work permit after you made your claim, and
  • meet other admissibility criteria, for example, criminality, health and security

You are also eligible if your claim was rejected by the Refugee Board or if it hasn't been heard yet. If you are a rejected refugee claimant, you will still be eligible if you worked after your work permit expired and you meet all other criteria.

Who is not eligible

You will not be eligible to apply for permanent residence in this program if you:

  • were found ineligible to make a refugee claim
  • withdrew your claim
  • your claim

Healthcare jobs

You must be working in a healthcare institution, such as a hospital or long-term care home. Or you must be providing home care through an agency or assisted living facility. Examples of jobs include:

  • orderlies
  • nurses
  • nurses' aides
  • patient service associates
  • some home support workers

You can also apply if you worked as an intern in one of these occupations, as part of a post-secondary or vocational training program. The internship can be paid or unpaid.

There are types of work that don't qualify, even though they are in the healthcare sector. Some examples include work:

  • providing care in a private home that is paid directly by the employer
  • providing care for family members
  • in healthcare institutions, such as cooking or cleaning

Work requirements

To apply, you must have worked for at least 120 hours between March 13, 2020 and August 14, 2020. Also, before you can become a , you must be able to show that you have worked at least 6 months in the eligible healthcare job. You have until August 31, 2021 to meet the 6-month of work requirement.

Including family members

If you are eligible to apply, you can include family members living in Canada in your application for permanent residence. You must also list family members living outside Canada, but their applications won't be processed until after you receive permanent resident status.

Family members who died of COVID-19

If you arrived in Canada before August 14, 2020 and your spouse or common law partner was a refugee claimant who got COVID-19 and later died, you can apply for permanent residence under this program.

Withdrawal of refugee claim or appeal

If you are found eligible for the program, IRCC will send you a letter to confirm that you are accepted under the program. The letter will instruct you on how to withdraw your refugee claim or your appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division. Withdrawing your claim or appeal is the final step before you can become a permanent resident under the program.

Getting legal help

If you qualify, you can apply for a legal aid certificate after January 18, 2021.  To apply, call the Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) call centre at 1-800-668-8258. Find out about getting legal help with your eligibility for this program here.

If you don't qualify for the program, but you have worked in healthcare during the pandemic, you may be able to apply for permanent residence relying on Humanitarian and Compassionate (H&C) reasons. You can ask a lawyer about H&C applications or find out more information here.

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