Program to give residency to ‘guardian angel’ asylum-seekers to open next week

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Marco Mendicino

OTTAWA — Some asylum-seekers who toiled on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis earlier this year will be able to apply for permanent residency in Canada beginning on Dec. 14.

The federal government announced the program for the “guardian angels” working in health care back in August but provided few details at the time about how or when people could apply.

Today, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino is unveiling the specifics, saying there will be two streams — one for those who live in Quebec and one for those outside the province.

For both, asylum-seekers who have been working in a specific list of health-care-related professions and who had already claimed asylum before March 13 will be able to apply for permanent residency.

But eligibility criteria for the program are also being expanded to include spouses or common-law partners of refugee claimants who died after contracting COVID-19.

The government has not said how many people it expects will qualify.

Before the border closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of people had been arriving in Canada and requesting asylum each month, and while they awaited decisions on their claims had found work in health care.