The Canadian government has announced a new pathway to permanent residence for over 90,000 essential workers and international graduates already in the country.

Eligible essential workers are those working in one of 40 healthcare occupations “as well as 95 other essential jobs across a range of fields, like caregiving and food production and distribution.” Many of these workers have been crucial contributors to Canada’s fight against COVID and, as in other countries, the pandemic has revealed the massive extent to which workers in frontline jobs (which span a range of sectors) are the linchpins of a functioning society and economy.

International graduates must have completed a higher education programme in Canada within the last four years (no earlier than January 2017). Of the 90,000 total, 40,000 application spots are reserved for international students who have graduated from a Canadian institution.

Students and workers can begin applying for permanent residency under this new immigration stream 6 May 2021, and the window for applications is open until 5 November 2021, or until the limit has been reached.

The new pathway is part of Canada’s overall 2021 Immigration Levels Plan, the goal of which is to see Canada welcome 401,000 new permanent residents this year.

It is also the latest in a series of immigration policy updates aimed at encouraging students to keep enrolling with Canadian institutions and to stay on after graduation to join the country’s labour force. Just last month, the government announced that international students can complete 100% of their programmes with an approved Canadian post-secondary institution from their home countries and still be eligible for the Post-Graduation Work Program (PGWP).