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Asylum seekers on front lines of COVID-19 to have chance at permanent residency

Last Updated Aug 14, 2020 at 10:54 am EDT

A Canadian Border Services agent stands watch at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Tuesday, December 8, 2015. The Canada Border Services Agency says they turned back 21 people who tried to enter the country from the U.S. in May to claim asylum. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

OTTAWA — Asylum seekers working on the front-lines of the COVID-19 crisis are getting an early chance at permanent residency in Canada.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced the program today in response to public demand that the so-called “Guardian Angels” — many in Quebec — be recognized for their work in the health-care sector during the pandemic.

Ordinarily, asylum seekers must wait for their claims to be accepted before they can become permanent residents, but the new program waives that requirement.

To apply for residency now, they must have claimed asylum in Canada prior to March 13 and have spent no less than 120 hours working as a orderly, nurse or other designated occupation since then.

They must also demonstrate they have six months of experience in the profession before they can receive permanent residency and have until the end of this month to meet that requirement.

In a statement, Mendicino says the approach recognizes those with precarious immigration status are filling an urgent need and putting their own lives at risk to care for others in Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 14, 2020.

The Canadian Press