Frontline health care workers have proven to be a vital and essential part of fighting the ongoing pandemic. Now, some of them have been given the chance to apply for permanent residency in Canada. A new measure from the government will make it easier.

An August 14 press release from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada states that asylum claimants who are working in the health care sector fighting COVID-19 will now have a pathway to becoming permanent residents.

The temporary measure was introduced by Minister Marco Mendicino and would provide an opportunity for people working in designated occupations to apply for PR status.

Those jobs are orderlies, nurses, nurses’ aides and patient service associates, assistant orderlies and certain home support workers.

On top of that, family members of applicants who are living in Canada would become permanent residents as well.

Individuals who want to apply must meet certain criteria to do so.

They must have claimed asylum before March 13, 2020 and been given a work permit prior to that.

They must have also worked in the health care field in specific organizations, including hospitals and long-term care homes.

Those who have done in-home care work through agencies are also eligible. 

A minimum of 120 hours worked between March 13 and August 14, 2020, in the designated occupations is also essential.

Applicants must demonstrate at least six months of experience in their field before August 21, 2021.

Finally, they need to pass all of the other requirements for permanent residency, including criminal, security, and health checks.

"The government recognizes the extraordinary contribution of asylum claimants working in Canada’s health-care sector during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in long-term care centres," Mendicino said in a statement.

"As these individuals face an uncertain future in Canada, the current circumstances merit exceptional measures in recognition of their service during the pandemic."

This temporary decision also follows changes to Canada's rules about who can automatically become a citizen.

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