Immigration Resources: U.S. Clergy to Canada

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Synod 2019 instructed the executive director, in consultation with the appropriate CRC agencies, to identify and communicate appropriate legal and financial resources to assist churches and classes with immigration of pastors and their families.  

This document provides basic information that the CRCNA’s Human Resources office relies on when it assists Canadian congregations in calling a pastor from the United States. Congregations are encouraged to contact the HR office for additional questions.

U.S. Clergy to Canada (2016)

Paragraph R186(l) applies to persons whose employment will consist mainly of preaching of doctrine, presiding at liturgical functions or providing spiritual counselling, either as an ordained minister, a lay person, or a member of a religious order.

Religious or charitable work requires a work permit, but is exempt from the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) (see Charitable and religious work).

Persons seeking entry under the authority of R186(l) should be able to provide documentation to support their request for entry that addresses:

  • the genuineness of the offer of employment of the religious denomination that seeks to employ them; and
  • their ability to minister to a congregation under the auspices of that religious denomination.

In exceptional cases, officers may require more information to assess the genuineness of the job offer. Any of the following information may be of assistance:

  • certificate of Incorporation in the province or territory of destination;
  • proof of registration as a charity or non-profit organization with the Canada
  • Revenue Agency (CRA) under the Income Tax Act;
  • a statement from the religious organization showing
    • date and place of founding of the religious organization,
    • length of time in continuous operation in the province or territory of destination,
    • description of the structure of the organization, including names and addresses of officers in the province of destination and any affiliation with a larger religious group,
    • the size of the adult congregation,
    • number of clergy employed,
    • address or the regular meeting place of the congregation,
    • scheduled days and hours of worship;
  • copies of relevant sections of the Constitution and by-laws of the religious organization that provide for the ordination, appointment and dismissal of ministers or clergy;
  • financial statements for the past fiscal year;
  • copy of residential lease if a residence is not supplied for the foreign national;
  • proof of ordination or appointment of the foreign national;
  • letter of authorization from the governing official of the denomination that includes
    • the current status of the foreign national with the denomination,
    • recognition of the foreign national’s entitlement to minister to the denomination’s congregation,
    • name and mailing address of church or congregation to be served,
    • arrangements for remuneration or care of the foreign national,
    • description of exact duties and hours to be worked.

Most religions will be registered as charities or non-profit organizations under the Income Tax Act and also under provincial or territorial laws.

Processing work permit applications from religious workers (clergy, ministers, priests)

At missions or ports of entry

If a foreign national who is normally authorized to work under R186(l) applies to a mission or a port of entry (POE) for a work permit, the application must be considered under R200(1).

R205(d) also applies to religious workers who are described in R186(l) should they choose to apply for a work permit instead of a temporary resident visa or visitor record. LMIA exemption code C50 applies. See International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – charitable or religious work [R205(d) – C50.

At the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville

Religious workers who are in Canada and who were initially authorized to preach doctrine or minister to a congregation pursuant to R186(l) may apply for work permits to the Case Processing Centre in Vegreville (CPC-V) under R199(b) using the LMIA exemption C50. See International Mobility Program: Canadian interests – charitable or religious work [R205(d) – C50.

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