Macklin co-authors CERC policy brief aiming to help regularize status for undocumented Canadian workers

February 28, 2023 by Patricia Doherty

CrimSL Director Professor Audrey Macklin co-authored CERC Migration Policy Brief 12, "Out of the shadows: A proposal for the regularization of migrants without status in Canada," with Naomi Alboim and Anna Triandafyllidou.

In the brief, published in February 2023, the authors make policy recommendations for ways in which Canada could transition people living without status so that they may participate fully in Canadian society.

Executive Summary

The Prime Minister of Canada has directed the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to “build on existing pilot programs to further explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers who are contributing to Canadian communities.” This policy brief presents a two-pronged policy proposal and possible instruments to fulfill this obligation. The proposal is based on an analysis of previous and current regularization programs in Canada and the European Union, and of the current immigration policies and practices that contribute to loss of status. It has two distinct but related goals:

1. Regularization: To enable eligible foreign nationals residing in Canada without status to obtain permanent residency status. This category consists of people working in Canada without legal status and their family members; people without status who arrived in Canada as minors, reside in Canada, and were partially or wholly educated in Canada; and people who are long-term, non-removable residents of Canada.

2. Status Transition: To reduce the future incidence of non-status migrants by enabling a transition from temporary worker to permanent resident. This policy would apply to temporary workers who possess valid work permits and temporary resident status but are ineligible to transition to permanent residence under existing federal programs because they work in occupations classified as lower skilled. The proposal is guided by several objectives that should inform policy design: simplicity, accessibility to ensure uptake, a stable ongoing mechanism with adaptable content rather than a single time-limited initiative, and respect for the integrity of Canada’s managed immigration system.