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Go Back to the List May 27, 2021
IRCC provides more clarity on eligibility criteria for six new immigration pathways

New guidelines released by IRCC are meant to help IRCC staff assess applications for essential worker and international graduate streams.

On May 26, IRCC released new program guidelines that offer more clarity on the eligibility criteria for its six new permanent residence programs.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched six new permanent residence (PR) streams for essential workers and international graduates earlier this month, on May 6.

The English-speaking International Graduate stream reached its quota of 40,000 applications after one day. However, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has stated IRCC is open to exploring adjusting the quotas under the various streams.

The two English-speaking essential worker streams have had over 11,000 applications submitted. Combined, their quota is 50,000 applications.

The three French-speaking streams have a much lower uptake, although this is expected due to the smaller francophone population in Canada and also because they are not subject to quotas; applicants have until November 6 to make their submissions to IRCC.

The program guidelines issued on IRCC’s website on May 26 are meant to help IRCC staff assess applications submitted under the six PR streams.

The guidelines state that applicants must meet all of the following criteria to be approved under any of the six streams:

  • Legal entry into Canada and status as a temporary resident
  • Official language proficiency
  • Current work experience
  • Intent to reside outside of Quebec
  • Qualifying work experience
  • Education requirements

Legal entry into Canada and status as a temporary resident

IRCC notes that all applicants must be residing in Canada with valid temporary resident status and must be physically present in Canada when the application for permanent residence is received and when IRCC approves the application. Those who do not have temporary resident status in Canada, such as refugee claimants, are not eligible under the six PR streams.

Official language proficiency

Essential workers need to demonstrate they have obtained a Canadian Language Benchmark score of at least 4 on a language test that is designated by IRCC. International graduates need a score of at least 5. Test options are:


  • IELTS: International English Language Testing System (General Training test only)
  • CELPIP: Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program


  • TEF Canada: Test d’évaluation de français
  • TCF Canada: Test de connaissance du français (in French only)

Current work experience

Applicants must be working to be eligible for the streams. IRCC notes the current employment must:

  • be in Canada
  • can be in any occupation
  • must be legal
  • must be paid in wages or commission
  • is not self-employed work unless working as a paid medical doctor for a health authority

IRCC notes the definition of “currently employed” is the date the application is submitted to IRCC. Applicants do not need to remain employed throughout the processing of the application and their work at the time of their application can be full-time or part-time.

When determining whether an applicant was an employee or self-employed, IRCC officers will consider factors such as:

  • the autonomy the worker had such as how much control they had over what type of work was performed and when it was performed
  • whether the worker owns or is providing tools necessary to complete the work
  • the extent to which the worker needs to perform the work personally and whether they can subcontract or hire additional help to complete the work
  • if there is financial risk assumed by the worker
  • other relevant details such as written contracts

Intent to reside outside of Quebec

The six programs are available to applicants who intend to reside anywhere in Canada outside the province of Quebec. IRCC staff are instructed to inform an applicant of their concerns if they are not convinced the applicant intends to reside outside of Quebec.

Qualifying work experience

Essential workers must meet the following criteria:

  • have gained work experience in an eligible National Occupation Classification (NOC) code of at least 1,560 hours in the three years before the application has been submitted
  • the applicant must have been authorized to work in Canada
  • the work occurred in Canada
  • wages or commission were paid
  • the applicant must not have been self-employed unless they were a medical doctor being paid by a health authority

Education requirements

International graduates must meet the following requirements:

  • The program of study was completed at a Canadian Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • The applicant completed their program at a Canadian DLI no earlier than January 2017
  • The applicant must have had a study permit while enrolled at the DLI
  • The applicant received an eligible credential (e.g., a degree, diploma, certificate or attestation from a program leading to a job in a skilled trade)
  • One or more credentials will be accepted if the combined study in Canada is equivalent to a 2-year credential (at least 16 months in duration)


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Written by Kareem El-Assal,
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