Canada Launches Program for Illegal Immigrants

At least 500 illegal immigrants working now in Canada will get a chance to permanent residence.

The new immigration program is designed for workers who are employed in the construction sector of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and who have no legal status in Canada. In the nearest future, 500 people will be able to obtain permanent resident status.

GTA construction industry is experiencing a significant labour shortage and partly relies on illegal workers. Employees with no legal status first came to Canada with valid immigration status. Later, it has expired, making them vulnerable to exploitation by employers.

To solve this problem, the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will grant permanent resident status to 500 illegal construction workers and their family members under a new temporary program implemented jointly with the Canadian Labour Congress.

The Congress representatives say that without status, these workers were filling in job vacancies making a large contribution to the Canadian economy. However, the fear to be found, detained and removed from the country drove these workers and their families underground, often limiting access to social programs and making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by employers.

Who is Eligible 

The eligible candidates include foreign citizens who: 

  • Entered Canada legally as a temporary resident
  • Have lived in Canada or the last 5 years
  • Have worked in the construction industry of the Greater Toronto area (City of Toronto, Durham Region, Halton Region, Peel Region, York Region) and accumulated 3 years of experience in construction work over the past 5 years
  • Provide proof of having a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score of 4 or higher for English or French
  • Have a family member who is a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or have a spouse, common-law partner or child in Canada
  • Have a reference letter signed by the Canadian Labour Congress
  • Have no history of offenses except for exceeding temporary resident status and being employed without a work permit

Eligible Occupations 

Those who work in the following occupations are eligible to participate in the new program:

  • NOC (National Occupational Classification) major group 72: industrial, electrical and construction trades 
  • NOC major group 73: maintenance and equipment operation trades 
  • NOC 7441: residential and commercial installers and servicers
  • NOC 7521: heavy equipment operators (except crane)  
  • NOC 7611: construction trades helpers and labourers


The Canadian Labour Congress will start accepting applications on its website on September 3, 2019. Candidates will be selected on the “first come, first served” basis.

If more than 500 applications are filed, priority will be given to those who have children, spouse or common-law partner in Canada. IRCC will begin processing applications submitted to it by the Canadian Labour Congress on January 2, 2020.