On December 14, 2023, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Minister Marc Miller announced the Federal government’s intention to create a new path for undocumented immigrants who have been living and working in Canada for years to obtain permanent residency and eventually Canadian citizenship.
In an interview, Mr. Miller explained that he plans to present a proposal to cabinet in spring of next year that allows many immigrants without valid documents to apply for permanent residency in Canda. Such individuals include those who entered the country as temporary workers or international students and overstayed their visits after expiry of their legal status.
The plan to propose the new pathway comes as a result of the government’s efforts to regularize the status of some of the 300,000 to 600,000 individuals who have been living and working in Canada for many years, many of whom have established lives, families, and jobs and continue to face threats of deportation because of their invalid immigration status.
Does This Apply to All Undocumented Workers?
Minister Miller’s proposal does not suggest that all those without valid documents will be allowed to apply for permanent residency. Rather, it will be targeted towards people who are already in Canada, with children, and are contributing to the economy. More specifically, his plan is to start this new proposal on construction workers who are living and working in Canada without legal status. He anticipates that this will help address Canada’s shortage of skilled workers that are able to build homes, noting that immigrants are indispensable in areas such as construction and health care.
The Minister also addressed some of the concerns regarding the number of immigrations arriving in Canada in light of the current issues of unaffordable housing and rising cost of living. Last week, IRCC announced increasing the cost-of-living financial requirements for international students, which is expected to cut the number of people arriving in Canada. This, the Minister said, reassures the public that government remains vigilant in ensuring that individuals coming to Canada are not exploited or taken advantage of.