On May 6, the government opened six Permanent Residence Pathways for Healthcare and Essential workers: 3 for English speakers and 3 for French speakers. The French and English pathways are identical, with the exception of an application quota for English speakers. They are to remain open until November 5, 2021, or until the quota is filled (for English speakers).
These new Pathways are unprecedented and a great way to recognize frontline workers’ contributions at times of COVID-19. To qualify, workers must be living in Canada at the time of the application and once it is processed, and their work experience must be paid and gained with proper authorization. Our settlement workers have of course studied the forms and guides in order to be able to help CultureLink’s clients. They pointed out how under the new options, clients with work experience in low-skilled occupations are eligible, which is rather uncommon for Canadian Immigration programs. Applicants are also able to include family members living abroad, and that applications are expected to be processed in an expedited manner.
There are, however, potential obstacles that CultureLink’s clients are likely to face. For example, while the required language scores are extremely low, arguably, many of our clients may not be at the level needed. Furthermore, written language tests require the taker to be familiar with the test format, and some test formats require computer literacy. What is worst, this requisite has created a high demand for language tests, resulting in quite a lot of fraudulent activity (eg. people selling test spots).
The Pathways are specifically for Healthcare and Essential workers, many of whom are low-income individuals. For them, an application fee of $1050 per adult and/or $150 per child is a high cost to pay. Consider that applicants will have additional costs related to the application, including language tests, medical exams and possibly biometrics. And if the financial stress is not enough, English-speaking applicants are also pressured by time. While the quota fills out and the due date gets closer, they must wait weeks, sometimes months to get all the necessary documents and tests.
As with all IRCC applications, clients must be able to follow instructions. With English as a second language, something as simple as filling up a form turns into a challenging task. Many reach out to a settlement worker or immigration practitioner for assistance. This introduces the risk of falling victim to immigration fraud. Hence, it is critical to inform and educate potential applicants on the importance of using authorized representatives when free services are not available. But even when language is not an issue, some of the occupations listed as eligible are not straightforward, therefore the client may need help from an experienced immigration practitioner to determine their eligibility.
Unfortunately, some of our clients do not qualify for the Pathways. Refugee Claimants are not eligible. Applicants planning to settle in Quebec are also left out. While a Quebec-based worker may still apply, they must convince the IRCC that they do not plan to stay in Quebec once the application is approved.
Our staff is making every effort to assist clients that qualify for the Pathway, and to inform those who were not aware of this opportunity.