Trudeau Liberals to create citizenship pathway for 'undocumented' immigrants next spring

Immigration Minister Marc Miller expects to table a proposal to 'regularize' undocumented immigrants sometime in the spring — impacting an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 people on expired visa.

Trudeau Liberals to create citizenship pathway for 'undocumented' immigrants next spring
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
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A pathway to citizenship is in the works for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants residing in Canada illegally, according to the Department of Immigration.

In an interview with the Globe and Mail, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said a "broad and comprehensive program" is in the works to "regularize the status" of temporary workers and international students on expired visas.

The minister told the publication he expects to table a proposal sometime in the spring — impacting an estimated 300,000 to 600,000 people in the country without proper documentation. In some instances, they are with children and have worked in Canada for decades without formal status.

"These are people that are already here, already contributing and have kids," he said. "People do get worked up about numbers, but the reality is that they are already here."

However, those who arrived recently are not likely to be eligible under the program, according to Miller. 

He acknowledged not all Canadians will receive the policy well, urging "greater conversation" in place of division.

"The conversation on regularizing people that are here, and by my estimation — my belief — should be Canadian, is not one that’s unanimous in the country," he said. "We have to have a greater conversation as a country about that."

Immigration Canada has pondered this immigration stream since the 2021 federal election, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked then-minister Sean Fraser to "explore ways of regularizing status for undocumented workers."

In particular, Miller said his government will focus on undocumented construction workers to address Canada’s shortage of skilled workers able to build homes. He contends this will be a "good way to test the narrative" for the proposal.

"[…] when we get things wrong, and we get policies wrong, you create fertile ground for people to weaponize the issue," added the minister.

As part of Ottawa’s emphasis on immigration, it announced last month it would permit 500,000 new permanent residents into Canada in 2026 — on par with the quota for 2025. 

This is a developing story.

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