IRCC Eases Requirements for Foreign Healthcare Workers
Posted on 27/09/2022
On Friday September 23, 2022, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees, & Citizenship, Sean Fraser, announced a change in policy to make it easier for foreign physicians to become permanent residents and live and work in Canada. Canada’s fee-for-service model for physicians has meant that in most cases they are considered self-employed by IRCC, which has made them unable to use Express Entry where standard employer-employee contracts are what is generally required. Canada in general has been hesitant to allow self-employed people (with some exceptions for artists and athletes) to immigrate under economic immigration programs. Over the past year, this has been changing for healthcare workers.
For example, as we mentioned in a previous blog, in 2021 a Permanent Resident Pathway with a cap of 90,000 applications in 6 immigration streams for healthcare workers, other essential workers, and recent international graduates was announced. This included 20,000 temporary healthcare workers, 30,000 temporary workers in other essential occupations and 40,000 recent university graduates. However, to apply as a foreign worker for this pathway to permanent residence, you had to have at least 1 year Canadian work experience and to apply as a recent international graduate you had to have attended a Canadian college or university finishing your studies sometime over the last 4 years. That meant that foreign healthcare professionals who studied abroad and had no Canadian work experience were excluded from participating as the immigration streams basically fit under the FSW (Foreign Skilled Worker) or CEC (Canadian Experience Class) programs.
This is now changing. Building on a previous announcement in June of 2022 – which promised to increase collaboration and information sharing of foreign qualification and credential recognition requirements in order to help internationally-educated health care professionals to fill key positions – the minister announced today that physicians who work in a fee-for-service model with Canada’s public health authorities will be exempt from current Express Entry requirements. The minister promised to continue to work with provincial authorities to solve shortages in Canada’s healthcare industry by helping internationally educated healthcare professionals obtain credential and qualification requirements faster.
Looking back over many years, Canada’s provincial and territorial colleges of physicians and surgeons as well as other healthcare professional licensing bodies have often made it very difficult for foreign-trained and educated professionals to be accredited and/or licensed to work in Canada. Now, faced with a growing number of baby-boomer doctors retiring just as the COVID pandemic hit, the country has become desperate to fill badly needed vacancies that will only get worse over the coming years.
This is great news, but you’ll need to be patient. Remember that the proof of a real change will be in the specific policy details that follow the minister’s recent announcement. While Canada has in 2022 approved around 2,500 work permits or work permit extensions for doctors as well as hundreds of work permits or extensions for nurses and nurses’ aides, more clarity on this pathway for permanent residence for these workers is now needed. As stated above, Canada’s Pathway to Permanent Residence for temporary workers included room for 20,000 healthcare worker applications. It’s clear that this more recent announcement is an attempt to ease barriers that still exist in both provincial colleges of surgeons and physicians that accredit healthcare professionals and in the requirements that IRCC’s Express Entry have for economic immigrants.
Finally, here’s a list of the NOC occupations that were eligible under the program announced back in 2021. However, please remember that these new easing of requirements might not apply to all the healthcare occupations listed below.
NOC 3011 Nursing coordinators and supervisors
NOC 3012 Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses
NOC 3111 Specialist physicians
NOC 3112 General practitioners and family physicians
NOC 3113 Dentists
NOC 3121 Optometrists
NOC 3122 Chiropractors
NOC 3124 Allied primary health practitioners
NOC 3125 Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating
NOC 3131 Pharmacists
NOC 3132 Dietitians and nutritionists
NOC 3141 Audiologists and speech-language pathologists
NOC 3142 Physiotherapists
NOC 3143 Occupational therapists
NOC 3144 Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment
NOC 3211 Medical laboratory technologists
NOC 3212 Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants
NOC 3214 Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists
NOC 3215 Medical radiation technologists
NOC 3216 Medical sonographers
NOC 3217 Cardiology technologists and electrophysiological diagnostic technologists.
NOC 3219 Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)
NOC 3221 Denturists
NOC 3222 Dental hygienists and dental therapists
NOC 3223 Dental technologists, technicians and laboratory assistants
NOC 3231 Opticians
NOC 3232 Practitioners of natural healing
NOC 3233 Licensed practical nurses
NOC 3234 Paramedical occupations
NOC 3236 Massage therapists
NOC 3237 Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment
NOC 3411 Dental assistants
NOC 3413 Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates
NOC 3414 Other assisting occupations in support of health services
NOC 4151 Psychologists
NOC 4152 Social workers
NOC 4153 Family, marriage and other related counsellors
NOC 4165 Health policy researchers, consultants and program officers
NOC 4212 Social and community service workers
NOC 4412 Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations
So, to see if your occupation will benefit from this latest announcement of easing of requirements, stay tuned for more details on how a healthcare professional can apply through Express Entry’s Foreign Skilled Workers or Canadian Experience Class programs in order to gain permanent residence in Canada.