5 Reasons to Transition Immigrant Physicians to Canadian Permanent Residence Status & 3 Key Paths to Get There
August 8, 2019
By David Nurse, Counsel at McInnes Cooper
Canadian provinces are looking to immigration as a solution to labour market shortages, and the health sector is no exception. Recruitment of immigrant physicians is at least one strategy that many Canadian provinces employ to provide healthcare services. Many immigrant physicians initially move to and begin work in Canada with Temporary Foreign Worker status with the intent of subsequently transitioning to Permanent Residence (or “PR”) status. Permanent Residence applications can, however, be complex and time-consuming, and moving them forward often falls off the radar once the urgent pressure of getting the work permit is relieved and the immigrant physician starts working. But transitioning immigrant physicians from temporary foreign worker to permanent residence status shouldn’t be an afterthought for either the physicians or their employers. Here are five reasons why it’s beneficial to transition immigrant physicians to permanent residence status and the three key paths to get there.
5 Reasons to Prioritize Transition to Canadian Permanent Residence Status
Here are five key reasons why it’s beneficial to employers of immigrant physicians to encourage them to move forward with their Permanent Residence applications and, if committed to assist with it, take the necessary steps to do so:
The Risks of Aging. Aging can result in a Permanent Residence candidate’s loss of points in the federal Express Entry system or even loss of eligibility for some provincial nominee programs, potentially forcing them to leave Canada. Similarly, the candidate’s dependents could “age out” of eligibility to be included in their parents’ PR application, and if the dependent must leave Canada there’s a heightened risk the physician candidate will leave right along with them.
(In)Valid Canadian Experience. Self-employed work in Canada isn’t considered valid Canadian experience for certain Canadian Permanent Residence programs, such as the Canadian Experience Class. Physicians who will be self-employed in Canada are wise to apply for PR when their foreign work experience is still current and they are awarded points for it under Canadian PR programs.
Avoid Fading Evidence. Gathering the documents a physician needs to prove they have the work experience necessary to apply for Permanent Residence only gets harder with the passage of time and physical distance from their former employer(s). It’s prudent for them to obtain reference letters and apply for PR promptly upon or even before arrival in Canada.
Establish Ties. Permanent Residence status will make it easier for the physician to undertake activities like borrowing money and buying a home, and that will help them to establish ties to the local community.
Canadian Immigration Law Compliance. Keeping track of a immigrant physician’s transition to PR status helps their employer fulfill its legal compliance obligations. All employers of Temporary Foreign Workers must comply with Canadian immigration law, including ensuring the worker has legal status and monitoring their work permit expiry and renewal process. If the employer committed to supporting the employee’s transition to PR status as part of a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application, the employer must also report on its efforts to the federal government during any compliance review and on subsequent LMIA applications.
Canadian Permanent Residence Programs for Physicians
Three key Permanent Residence Programs are particularly applicable for immigrant physicians. Notably, a prerequisite for two of these programs is that the physician create a profile for the federal Express Entry system. Put simply, the Express Entry system allows foreign nationals to enter a pool of pre-qualified candidates whom the relevant federal, provincial or territorial government may invite to apply for PR status in Canada.
Federal Skilled Worker. The federal government (and some provinces) select applicants for the federal Skilled Worker (or “FSW”) Program from the Express Entry pool of candidates. Minimum criteria for selection for the FSW Program include:
- Work Experience: One year skilled work experience in National Occupation Class (NOC) 0 (managerial occupations), A (professions) or B (technical occupations and skilled trades).
- Language ability: Canadian Language Benchmark (CBL) Level 7 in all categories (reading, writing, listening and speaking).
The FSW Program also includes a points calculation that interested candidates should review.
Canadian Experience Class. Similarly, Canadian provincial and territorial governments select applicants for the federal Canadian Experience Class from the Express Entry pool of candidates. The minimum criteria for selection is:
- Work Experience: Minimum 12 months of skilled work experience in Canada – but self-employment and work as a student doesn’t count.
- Language ability: CLB 7 for NOC O or A, or CLB 5 for NOC B.
- Education: Minimum secondary school.
Provincial Nominee Programs. Each Canadian province and territory has a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), and each offers a variety of immigration streams and the relevant eligibility criteria. The relevant PNP could offer a route for a physician who doesn’t quality for other immigration programs. The downside, though, is the generally slow processing time for PNP applications: the federal portion of the processing time currently takes about 19 months. However, some provinces and territories have introduced streams under their respective PNPs specifically targeted to physicians. And while most foreign clinical physicians still enter Canada for work on a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) based work permit, at least initially, a physician nominated for Permanent Residence through certain PNPs won’t require an LMIA to obtain a work permit. For example, Nova Scotia recently introduced a Physician Stream under its PNP (the only Atlantic Canadian province to do so to date).
Please contact your McInnes Cooper lawyer or any member of the Immigration Law Team @ McInnes Cooper to discuss this topic or any other legal issue.
McInnes Cooper has prepared this document for information only; it is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult McInnes Cooper about your unique circumstances before acting on this information. McInnes Cooper excludes all liability for anything contained in this document and any use you make of it.
© McInnes Cooper, 2019. All rights reserved. McInnes Cooper owns the copyright in this document. You may reproduce and distribute this document in its entirety as long as you do not alter the form or the content and you give McInnes Cooper credit for it. You must obtain McInnes Cooper’s consent for any other form of reproduction or distribution. Email us at [email protected] to request our consent.
- Share with others
- Stay informed with our legal updates by subscribing.