Canada removing barriers to permanent residence for physicians

IRCC will now allow physicians who are already in Canada to apply for PR under Express Entry programs.

As Canada continues to experience a nation-wide shortage of qualified physicians, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has made changes that will exempt physicians already in Canada as temporary residents from some of the current requirements involved in obtaining permanent resident status through Express Entry programs.

Most notably, physicians who are already working in Canada often find themselves unable to qualify for Express Entry because doctors in Canada often use a “fee-for-service” payment model that is different than the traditional employer-employee relationship. On paper, this means many physicians who are currently in Canada as temporary residents are considered self-employed.

Self-employed individuals, who gain this experience within Canada, are not eligible for most economic immigration pathways, such as those offered under Express Entry. It is important to note that being self-employed on its own does not render a candidate ineligible. If a candidate has gained at least one year of work experience abroad, or as an employee in Canada, they may still be eligible for an Express Entry program.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says removing this barrier will act as a signal to physicians that they are welcome to stay in Canada. While in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, last week he spoke positively about the new measure.

“In my home province in particular, foreign-born physicians have been helping to keep families healthy and to take care of our aging population,’ said Fraser. “Their skills are critical resources in our community, and it does not take long before they become our neighbours, friends, and fellow community leaders. Physicians resettling here in Nova Scotia or in other parts across the country is a win-win situation. The measures announced today signal to these physicians that we want them to stay, by making it easier for them to choose Canada as their permanent home.”

The measure is another attempt by IRCC to attract and retain physicians and other healthcare workers. As of June 2022, approximately 4,300 permanent residents were admitted under the health care streams of the time-limited Temporary Residence to Permanent Residence pathway.

Nationwide shortage of healthcare workers

Canada currently has a job vacancy rate of nearly 6% in the healthcare sector. This means that in the second quarter of 2022, there were over 136,000 healthcare professions that needed to be filled across the country. Manitoba has the highest vacancy rate at 6.7%.

So far in 2022 IRCC has accepted over 8,600 temporary and permanent resident applications from foreign nationals intending to work in the health sector.