immigration program for out-of-status construction workers in the GTA

Are you an undocumented construction worker in Toronto? You could qualify for permanent residency

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is extending and expanding the pilot program that allows out-of-status construction workers in the GTA access to permanent resident status. 

This temporary public policy will facilitate access to permanent resident status for 1,000 out-of-status construction workers in the GTA, plus their family members. Eligible individuals have until January 2, 2024, to apply for permanent residence.

“This pilot program is a significant step forward in addressing critical labour shortages for the Greater Toronto Area by supporting stability in the construction industry and bringing workers out of the underground economy.”

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Let’s explore this policy in detail.


On July 5, 2019, Canada launched the Temporary Public Policy for Out-of-Status Construction Workers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)The policy was developed to recognize the contribution of up to 500 long-term resident construction workers by regularizing their status. At the same time, the policy was addressing the vulnerable position of these workers due to their lack of immigration status.

The policy, which took effect on January 2, 2020, was terminated on July 29, 2021. However, the policy was later updated until January 2, 2023. Since the launch of the pilot in July 2019, 452 individuals have been accepted as permanent residents: 190 principal applicants and 262 dependants, said IRCC.

It is important to mention that there are estimated to be 500,000 undocumented migrants in Canada. Many of these undocumented residents came to Canada legally. But they later lose status because of issues with student visas, permits or asylum claims, advocates said.

According to the Government of Canada, they will keep exploring new and innovative ways to regularize the status of undocumented workers in the country.

Who can apply

For this public policy, the GTA is defined as the City of Toronto and the regions of Durham, Halton, Peel, and York. You can apply for permanent residence under this public policy if you meet all of these requirements. You must:

  • Have entered Canada as a temporary resident but currently have no status.
  • Live in Canada and have been here for at least 5 years.
    • To prove that you’ve been living in Canada, you can use copies of a lease or rental agreement.
  • Be working in Canada and have enough past work experience.
    • Your current and past work experience must be in the construction industry in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) in 1 of the occupations listed under:
      • Major Group 72 – industrial, electrical and construction trades
      • 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
  • Have family in Canada.
  • Be referred by the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).
    • To be eligible, you must be referred to IRCC by the CLC. If the CLC finds that you may be eligible, they print a referral letter and send it to IRCC along with your application.
  • Be otherwise admissible to Canada

Please note that you and your family members cannot apply to this public policy if you have pending refugee claims or are failed asylum claimants.

About the process

If you meet the requirements mentioned above, you can complete the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) application intake form (PDF, 391 KB). If they find that you may be eligible, they’ll refer your permanent residence application to IRCC. As usual, IRCC makes the final decision on your application.

If you’re approved, while IRCC finalizes your permanent residence application, they’ll give you

Of course, if you include family members in your application for permanent residence, they also need to apply for a work permit, study permit or TRP. This will let them stay in Canada while IRCC processes the permanent residence application.

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