Initiative aims to assist those awaiting their refugee hearing as well as failed refugee claimants
Legal Aid Ontario has started receiving applications for legal aid certificates filed by refugee claimants who work in specific frontline healthcare jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic and who seek permanent residence in Canada, effective Jan. 18.
If the refugee claimant meets the requirements for LAO’s financial eligibility and for the healthcare workers permanent residence pathway program of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, LAO will pay a lawyer who accepts legal aid work to assist the claimant with their application to the program.
The program of the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which was launched last December, offers frontline healthcare workers who are awaiting their refugee hearing or who are the recipients of a negative refugee decision the opportunity to permanently live in Canada, subject to certain qualifications.
To apply for the program, one should be a pending or failed refugee claimant residing in Canada and possessing the required work experience in specific jobs in Canada’s healthcare sector. One should have filed a claim before Mar. 13, 2020 and should have a work permit that was issued after filing such claim. The person and their family members should be admissible to reside in Canada. If seeking to live in Quebec, certain immigration and work experience requirements apply.
The eligible healthcare jobs, which are fully listed and specified in the federal government’s website, include those providing direct care as nursing co-ordinators, nursing supervisors, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse aides, orderlies, patient service associates, allied primary health practitioners and some home support workers. The program also imposes requirements for total work experience and number of hours worked.
If the refugee had their claim denied but also does not qualify for the program, they can still pursue permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, LAO said in its update. The update encouraged refugees experiencing such issues to reach out to LAO for more information.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada assesses these applications citing humanitarian and compassionate grounds on a case-by-case basis. Considerations include the degree of the applicant’s settlement in Canada, their general family ties to Canada, their children’s best interests and the possible consequences on the applicant if the application has been rejected.