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Could Canada be a Plan B for DACA Recipients?

We’ve heard this question many times over the last few months. It is a great question, but the answer is not as simple.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was an American immigration policy that protected undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as minors from deportation. After a background check, those individuals were also able to get renewable two-year work and study permits.

If the United States cuts DACA, can they find refuge in Canada?

There are four paths an individual can take to become a Canadian permanent resident:

  1. Economic – Through the Express Entry Program

This is a great way for young skilled workers to obtain permanent residence in Canada. This program takes into consideration a candidate’s age, work experience, education, language ability and many other details. Although the program is more favorable to candidates with Canadian work experience and education, candidates with other work experience and education can nonetheless qualify. To obtain a high score, applicants would have to be between the age of 20 and 29, and they must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. According to a CNN report, only 4% of DACA holders have completed their bachelor’s degree, and 20% of these DACA recipients are still in middle school and high school.

  1. Family reunification

Certain relatives can be sponsored by Canadian family members. This includes spouses, common-law partners, parents/grandparents, adopted children, and certain other family members. This can be an option for DACA recipients if they fall under one of these categories.

  1. Asylum

This program works to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who have a fear of persecution or are at a risk of torture in their home countries. If DACA recipients entered Canada through unguarded paths, they would be able to file a refugee claim. For a successful claim, they must be able to prove a fear of persecution in their home country. Since most of DACA recipients have left their home country at a young age, it would be difficult to prove. However, every case is different and this why a good lawyer is required.

  1. Humanitarian and compassionate grounds

Individuals who usually do not qualify to become a permanent resident under a program in Canada may qualify under humanitarian and compassionate grounds. These are exceptional cases and are assessed using the following criteria, among others:

  • How settled the person is in Canada;
  • General family ties to Canada;
  • The best interests of any children involved; and
  • What could happen to you if we do not grant the request.

We know that international students have already been identified by our system as priorities for permanent residency. So, can DACA recipients study in Canada? Like any other foreign national, a DACA recipient may apply for a study permit; however, to do so, they must prove legal status in their country of residence and be able to convince Canada that they will be leaving at the end of their study period. If their status in the United States is cancelled, the visa officer might doubt their intention to return to their country of origin, since they have not resided there for many years, and therefore refuse admission.

What about work? More than 75% of DACA recipients are Mexican citizens. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexican citizens may be eligible for facilitated processing when applying for a temporary Work Permit in Canada. Because Mexican citizens do not require a Temporary Resident Visa to enter Canada, applications for a NAFTA work permit may be done at a Port of Entry, or at a Visa office; however, they must prove to an officer that they will be leaving Canada when their work permit expires, which can be difficult to prove in many of these cases.

If you are affected by this situation, call our office today to schedule a consultation at 613-220-6448, or visit our website.


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