Temporary Public Policy to support foreign workers seeking provincial nomination in Manitoba


Authored by Nalini Reddy, Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, Gindin Wiebe Segal Law

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recently announced a new work permit for certain foreign workers in Manitoba who are seeking Canadian permanent residence via the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (“MPNP”). The work permit is designed to address problems caused by delays in processing at the MPNP.

The MPNP Skilled Worker program works on a points system. An individual must create an “Expression of Interest” which assigns them a number of points based on certain factors and, roughly every two weeks, the MPNP conducts draws in specified streams and sends Letters of Advice to Apply (“LAA”) to those with the top scores in those streams. Once an individual receives a LAA, they then have 60 days within which to submit their full MPNP application.

In recent years, decisions on such applications typically took two to four months. However, in the past year or so, the processing time lengthened considerably, such that applicants have been waiting 10 to 12 months for nomination decisions. (The reasons for this have a political root but are not pertinent to this article.) In its 2024 budget, released April 2, the Manitoba Government allocated funding for nine new staff positions at the MPNP so this will presumably assist with bringing processing times back down.

In the meantime, foreign workers in Manitoba with EOIs in the pool and with pending nomination applications have been falling out of status. This situation has generated a number of protests in Manitoba in the past several months, prompting Manitoba’s Minister of Labour and Immigration, Malaya Marcelino, to enter into discussions with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to attempt to obtain a mechanism for extending the status of at least some of these foreign workers.

On May 8, 2024, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Marc Miller, announced a temporary public policy directed at this problem. The announcement indicated that the policy would target potential nominees with work permits expiring in 2024 and that those individuals would mainly be post-graduation work permit (PGWP) holders currently in the EOI pool. The announcement also stated:

This temporary measure will authorize 6,700 temporary workers identified and supported by Manitoba to continue working while the province processes their applications for the Provincial Nominee Program. Within 2 years, it is expected that eligible foreign nationals will receive an official nomination from Manitoba and eventually become permanent residents.

There have been no further announcements from IRCC in respect of this new policy but, on May 17, 2024, the MPNP posted an announcement on their website. That announcement provides clarity concerning the foreign workers who will be eligible for the new work permit:

This temporary public policy allows post-graduation work permit holders employed in Manitoba with work permits expiring in 2024, who are eligible to apply to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) and who have submitted a valid MPNP Expression of Interest (EOI) profile prior to May 10, 2024, to be eligible to apply for a province-specific open work permit that will be valid for up to two years.

Thus, only individuals meeting the following criteria will be eligible for this new work permit:

The Province of Manitoba and federal government are still finalizing the agreement and the program has therefore not yet been launched.

This measure is welcome news for many PGWP holders seeking MPNP nominations but there are many other foreign workers with pending MPNP nomination applications in the Skilled Worker in Manitoba stream who have fallen or will fall out of status before receiving nominations – and the new measure does not assist them. For these individuals, the MPNP has indicated that so long as they either leave Canada until they are able to return with a T13 work permit or permanent residence, or stay in status by applying for a visitor record, the MPNP will continue to process their nominations and support their permanent residence applications despite the fact that they are no longer working in Manitoba. This is helpful because, of course, these individuals may ultimately still be able to become permanent residents – but they face either remaining in Canada without the ability to work or leaving Canada for what could be a protracted period of time and, in both situations, face the very real possibility of losing the support of their employers.

Overall, the new work permit will not assist all foreign workers affected by the processing delays at the MPNP but it will assist many.

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