Sun | Oct 17, 2021

Immigration Corner | Policy for out-of-status construction workers

Published:Tuesday | March 9, 2021 | 12:12 AM
Deidre S. Powell
Deidre S. Powell

Dear Miss Powell,

M y father has been a construction worker in Toronto for years now, but he hasn’t returned home as he says that if he returns, he may not be able to go back. He wants me to find out from you if there is a way for him to stay in Canada legally and get my mother and me to live with him there. He works late and is not so good with computers. Can you tell me what we can do? Please help us, Miss Powell.

– E.R.

Dear E.R.,

I would love to help your father and your family; however, I have many questions for your parents in order to ascertain how I may be of assistance. You indicated that he is afraid to return to his home country as he may not be able to return to Canada. Why is this so? Is he now out-of-status but still working in Toronto?


Let us examine the background of your father’s case to see the programme that is best for him. Below are some critical questions that he must be prepared to answer when he contacts an authorised immigration lawyer to guide him further.

When did he first land in Canada? What was his original reason for coming to Canada? Did he have a work permit? When did it expire? Has he ever filed his income tax returns and declared income in Canada? Has he had full-time work during that time? What type of construction work does he currently do?

There may be several options for your family. However, I am going to highlight the latest government initiative specifically designed to assist individuals in the construction industry. There is the Temporary Public Policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) that can help individuals get permanent residence status in Canada.

Many individuals are scared to access this programme as they are worried that this will alert the authorities to their whereabouts, and they risk deportation. However, this programme is specifically designed to assist persons who are already known to be out of status as the government recognises the economic contribution of these construction workers as they assist the Canadian economy and fill the gap in the labour market. The government is seeking to regularise individuals, and this public policy is to address the vulnerable position of these workers due to their lack of immigration status.


This policy aims to assist individuals who fall in the major work group of industrial, electrical, and construction trades; maintenance and equipment operation trades; residential and commercial installers and servicers; heavy equipment operators (except crane); construction trades; helpers; and labourers.

Workers such as asphalt spreader, bricklayer helper, carpenter, concrete mixer, construction helper, demolition worker, driller helper – surface mining drywall sander, dry wall installer, flagman/woman, glazier helper, labourer, weather stripper, concrete paving, sanders, hot tub installer, window installer could qualify to live permanently in Canada with their family.


The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) and the Government of Canada have partnered to implement this programme where the CLC has the duty to identify, screen, and refer persons and their family to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for processing of their permanent residence application.

It is expected that up to 500 construction workers, spouses, and dependent children will qualify under this initiative. This will assist persons who have entered Canada under a temporary resident visa such as visitor, study permit, or work permit but now do not have formal authorisation to remain in Canada.

Only 100 spaces will be granted for persons who never had authorisation to work, and the remaining 400 spaces are for those who previously had work permits authorising them to work in the construction industry. This initiative will expire in January 2022 or when 500 persons have been granted permanent residence.

This programme is limited to construction workers in the Greater Toronto Area that includes the city of Toronto, Durham Region, Halton Region, Peel Region, and York Region.


There may be other options open for your family, depending on the answers you provide to the questions below. What is your father’s highest education? What is his language ability? Is he fluent in either English and/or French? How are his reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills? Does he or your mother have any family members who are citizens or permanent residents in Canada? Family members include cousins, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. What about your mother? Were your parents married? Were they in a common-law relationship before he came to Canada? How old is your mother? What is her educational background? What is her occupation and work experience? How old are you? What is your education?

I recommend that you contact me via to book a telephone or Zoom meeting so that we can discuss this further.

Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator, and notary public with office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Email: Subject line: Immigration. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, or call 613.695.8777.