CIMM – Caregivers – February 15 & 17, 2022
- Caregivers from abroad play an important role in supporting Canadian families who are unable to find the care they need for a family member in Canada.
- The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots were introduced in 2019 to provide a clear, direct pathway to permanent residence for in-home caregivers.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great disruption to life in Canada and around the world, and has had a detrimental impact on the processing of applications. Significant work is underway to overcome the pandemic-related roadblocks that have interfered with processing caregiver applications and to return to pre-pandemic processing targets.
- The Department has delivered on the ambitious plan for processing applications from caregivers which was put in place in April 2021, finalizing nearly 6,000 permanent residence applications and 1,500 eligibility decisions to facilitate the issuance of work permits.
- Both caregiver pilots reopened to new applications on January 1, 2022. Since then, the Department has received 2,750 applications under the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and has closed application intake for 2022. The Home Support Worker Pilot continues to be open for new applications in 2022.
Caregiver pilot processing times
- Under the pilot, caregivers with less than two years of eligible work experience in Canada submit both their permanent resident and work permit applications together.
- They are assessed for most permanent residence criteria (i.e. education, official language, job offer and admissibility, including medical, criminal and national security) before receiving a three-year occupation-specific open work permit. We aim to process these applications within 12 months, although delays associated with pandemic restrictions, as well as other processing pressures, have meant that this process has been taking longer.
- Once an applicant has obtained 24 months of qualifying work experience in Canada, they submit proof to IRCC that they have completed this requirement. Our goal is to process the final component of the permanent residence application within six months of receiving the proof of eligible work experience.
- For caregivers who already have two years of eligible work experience in Canada at the time they apply for permanent residence, we also aim to process those applications within 12 months from receipt of application to final decision on permanent residence.
- Given unprecedented processing challenges in 2020, processing of new pilot applications effectively stopped in March 2020, but resumed in February 2021. In April 2021, the Department put into place an ambitious plan for processing applications from caregivers. As part of this plan, the Department:
- finalized permanent residence applications for nearly 6,000 people (caregivers and their family members) before December 31, 2021;
- completed 1,500 eligibility decisions on permanent residence applications under various caregiver programs – an important step in the process towards finalizing permanent residence applications;
- digitized newly received caregiver applications for remote processing; and
- acknowledged receipt of all applications submitted up to February 28, 2021 before May 31, 2021.
- If pressed – The objective of completing 1,500 eligibility decisions was originally targeted for June 30, 2021 and was completed in August 2021. Permanent residence eligibility decisions were made on applications for all caregiver pathways, not only the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots. A heavy concentration was placed on finalizing eligibility for applicants who had met the 24 months of work experience.
Application intake caps
- The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots allow officers to begin processing up to 2,750 applications annually, for a total of 5,500 applications per year. Each application includes a principal applicant and their dependent family members. These application caps are aligned with the legislated processing caps and are essential to ensuring that Ministerial Instructions pilot programs complement core economic programming.
- Demand for these pathways continues to be high. The Department received 2,750 applications under the Home Child Care Provider Pilot in the first few weeks of January and has closed application intake for 2022. The Home Support Worker Pilot continues to be open for new applications in 2022.
Hiring caregivers as temporary foreign workers
- Foreign national caregivers overseas: In June 2019, the Department put in place a “refusal to process” new employer-specific work permit applications that require a labour market impact assessment (LMIA) in the home child care provider or home support worker occupations. This was put in place for overseas foreign nationals for the duration of the pilots.
- Instead, caregivers who hold job offers, but have not yet acquired the 24 months of work experience in these categories, are assessed for permanent residence prior to being issued an occupation-restricted open work permit. This allows them to come to Canada with the knowledge that they will be eligible for permanent residence once they have gained the necessary work experience.
- This supports the pilots’ goal of providing caregivers coming to Canada with a clear pathway to staying in Canada. This does not apply to certain groups of foreign nationals such as those destined to work in Quebec.
- Foreign national caregivers already in Canada on employer-specific work permits continue to be able to apply for work permits extensions through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (supported by an LMIA) with some limited exceptions. They may also apply for permanent residence through the new pilots.
Pause on processing certain work permit applications
- Part of the caregiver program design requires applicants from outside of Canada to apply for permanent residence and have their eligibility assessed prior to being issued a work permit.
- The associated refusal to process applications for LMIA-backed work permits from overseas applicants ensures that those arriving in Canada have a pathway to permanent residence.
- This refusal to process does not apply to certain groups of in-Canada applicants, and between March 18, 2020 and July 2021, IRCC issued, on a priority basis, a total of 704 work permits for in-Canada caregivers under the temporary foreign worker program (LMIA-required work permits): 493 work permits for home child care providers and 211 work permits for home support workers.
- Caregivers on employer-specific work permits who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse in their jobs can apply for the Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers, introduced in 2019, which helps workers to quickly exit situations of workplace abuse and find a new job without compromising their authorization to work in Canada. An open work permit allows its holder to work for almost any employer across Canada.
- If pressed – Hiring a caregiver with intake caps reached and a pause on processing work permits for overseas caregivers:
- The vast majority of Canadians are able to address their family’s caregiving needs without needing to hire a caregiver from abroad.
- Families can continue to hire caregivers who are already in Canada, whether they are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or foreign nationals who have an open work permit (e.g. a participant in the working holiday stream of International Experience Canada, or a recent post-secondary graduate with a post-graduation work permit) or open work authorization (i.e. a post-secondary student).
- They may also use the LMIA process if they have found a caregiver they wish to hire who is already working in Canada, such as someone with a valid work permit who is seeking a new employer. Caregivers already working in Canada can continue to do so, as long as they have the legal authorization of a work permit. They will be able to extend their work permit through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to work for employers who receive a positive LMIA. Caregivers in this situation can continue working towards meeting the criteria of the Home Child Care Provider or Home Support Worker pilots.
- Caregivers can also explore other immigration programs or apply again when the pilot reopens. They may qualify for various programs, such as the Provincial Nominee Program in their respective province (depending on where they live or want to live).
Alternative pathways for caregivers
- The Provincial Nominee Program streams often target workers at all skill levels, including caregivers. Often candidates need to have previous in-Canada work experience (although some streams target workers directly from overseas) and knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages.
- The Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot were launched to match immigrants with specific labour market vacancies in the regions and communities served by these pilots. Program partners – provinces and territories, employers, and communities – can focus these programs on skill sets that are in high demand in their areas.
- Healthcare professionals are recruited through both of these programs, which are also open to intermediate skilled healthcare professionals such as personal support workers. In fact, under the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the first two candidates to receive permanent residence were both licensed practical nurses working at long-term care homes in Sault Ste. Marie.
- The Atlantic Immigration Program also includes an exception which allows candidates with a job offer as nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates (NOC C 3413) or home healthcare worker (NOC C 4412) to use related work experience gained as practical nurses (NOC B 3233) or registered nurses (NOC A 3012).
- The Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot is Canada’s model for refugee labour mobility. Phase I of the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot saw a total of seven applicants arrive in Canada – three as personal support workers. With the commitment to admit 500 principal applicants under the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot Phase 2, we are poised to see the number of healthcare workers increase as this is an area of chronic shortage across Canada.
- A new, temporary pathway to permanent residence was open between May 6, 2021 and November 5, 2021, permitting international graduates from Canadian post-secondary institutions and temporary foreign workers with Canadian work experience in an essential occupation to apply.
- In recognition of their essential contribution to Canada, in-home caregiving occupations (National Occupational Classification [NOC]) 4411 – Home child care provider or NOC 4412 – Home support worker) were included in this new pathway.
- This new pathway provided foreign in-home caregivers in Canada with an alternative avenue to permanent residence, with relatively easier criteria, including an official proficiency level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 and one year of full-time work experience in the last three years.
Personal support workers and caregivers working in long-term care facilities
- Labour market needs in the healthcare sector are prevalent across the country, and have consistently been identified as a priority. In particular, IRCC is aware of the significant need for personal support workers to work in long-term care facilities, retirement/nursing homes, and hospitals.
- The 2019 caregiver pilots limit eligibility to those who are hired by Canadian families for work in their private residence. Personal support workers, also called continuing care assistants, who work in institutional settings are not eligible to apply under these pilots. They are, however, eligible for permanent residence through a number of streams under the Provincial Nominee Program, as well as through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot.
COVID-19 impacts on jobs and job offers
- As a result of the pandemic, some caregivers may face reduced work hours, or the loss of a job or job offer, impacting their goal to become permanent residents. While the requirement of acquiring two years of Canadian work experience within a three-year timeframe provides some leeway, IRCC is monitoring whether this could become a barrier for some.
Caregivers on occupation-restricted open work permits
- Caregivers now receive a three-year occupation-restricted open work permit under the two caregiver pilots if they have a job offer in Canada as part of their permanent residence application through the caregiver pilots and meet all eligibility criteria except for the 24-month Canadian work experience.
- Once working in Canada, caregivers can start gaining the required 24 months of Canadian work experience to become permanent residents.
- Individuals working on occupation-restricted open work permits issued for the pilots have the flexibility to find a new employer in their occupation if necessary, e.g. if their job was impacted by COVID-19. They can change employers as needed, without applying to IRCC, as long as they stay in their authorized occupation. Employers can hire caregivers on these and other types of open work permits without a labour market impact assessment.
Caregivers on employer-specific work permits
- Under a public policy that took effect on May 12, 2020, in-Canada foreign workers (including caregivers) on employer-specific work permits who lose their job or have their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19 and find a new employer may be eligible to begin working in their new job while awaiting a decision on a pending work permit application.
- The new work permit application must be supported by a job offer, which typically also requires an LMIA. Previously, these workers couldn’t begin working in a new position until a new work permit was issued.
Income support – impacts on permanent residence goals
- Caregivers may be concerned about the impact of receiving federal benefits and emergency income supports on their goal for permanent residence.
- Receipt of temporary income supports, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Canada Recovery Benefit, Employment Insurance or provincial supports related to COVID-19, will not necessarily determine an applicant’s ability to support themselves or become economically established in Canada, as many will return to employment when the restrictions in their province have been eased.
- Applicants will still be required to meet eligibility and admissibility criteria and this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Time not working – impact on permanent residence goals
- Time spent laid off or not working due to the pandemic does not count as work experience for the purposes of qualifying for economic immigration programs like the caregiver pilots. More work and time may be needed to meet the requirements of a pathway, and for some applicants this may mean they need to change employers or extend their work permit.
- Under the caregiver pilots, an applicant has three years to obtain the required two years of work experience to qualify for permanent residence.
- The pandemic has highlighted the unique vulnerability of in-home work that is also live-in work for caregivers. Concerns related to the dependence on an employer for one’s livelihood and shelter have driven significant program change since 2014.
- Ensuring the protection of temporary foreign workers in Canada is a top priority for the Government. While provinces and territories are responsible for labour legislation and workplace protections in their jurisdictions, the Government has tools in place to prevent and respond to situations of workplace abuse (e.g. the Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers), and to help workers exit these situations when they do occur.
- The Government has put in place a wide range of special measures during the pandemic to support workers, including those on employer-specific work permits who need to change employers, or for those on maintained status, which in turn can help support their goals for permanent residence.
- Many caregivers in Canada as temporary residents are eligible to access legal aid and healthcare coverage. Administration of these programs falls within the jurisdiction of provincial/territorial governments and eligibility parameters differ between regions.
- In most cases, caregivers with work permits would receive coverage for provincial healthcare, although there is often an initial waiting period prior to the commencement of coverage. Those applying to extend their status and who are currently on “maintained” status may encounter challenges, which are addressed on a case-by-case basis.
- Legal aid is typically provided based on financial need, with specific income thresholds varying by jurisdiction.
- Foreign nationals who have lost their status and are outside of the allowable 90-day period to apply for restoration but otherwise qualify for the caregiver pilots may also apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
Transition pathway versus permanent residence on arrival
- Stakeholders have repeatedly called for permanent residence on arrival for in-home caregivers and other foreign workers.
- Canada, with the exception of some streams under the Provincial Nominee Program, does not have occupation-based permanent residence on arrival programs. Instead, on the basis of longitudinal data and research on outcomes, economic immigration pathways select immigrants on the basis of their ability to succeed in the Canadian economy and society over the long term based on their human capital attributes (official language proficiency, education and skilled work experience).
- A job offer alone, without consideration of language capacity and educational levels for permanent residency status, could increase vulnerability in the instance of a specific job coming to an end and the individual not being able to find alternate employment. For permanent residents, we want to ensure that individuals are positioned to be broadly employable as conditions change.
- We note that as long as there are caregivers in Canada on work permits, demand will continue to be high for a “transition” pathway, such as that provided through the current caregiver pilots.
Supporting facts and figures
- In 2019, over 9,800 caregivers and family members were admitted to Canada under all caregiver programs combined (the Live-in Caregiver Program legacy program, the 2014 pilots, the Interim Pathway for Caregivers, and the new 2019 pilots).
- For 2020, the overall admissions target for caregivers and their family members was 5,000. Office and border closures have resulted in lower 2020 admissions. Approximately 2,800 caregivers, and their families, were admitted as permanent residents in 2020.
- In 2021, the overall admissions target for caregivers and their family members was 5,500. Admissions for caregivers are expected to remain lower in 2021 compared to 2019 levels, given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. As of October 31, 2021, nearly 1,800 caregivers and their family members were admitted as permanent residents for 2021.
Eligibility requirements (including language proficiency)
- Caregivers are required to demonstrate their attainment of standard criteria for economic immigration programs, including meeting language (Canadian Language Benchmark 5 or higher) and education (a credential, Canadian or equivalent, of at least one year of post-secondary study) requirements.
- These requirements, which are similar to those required under the 2014 pilots, help ensure caregivers are in a position to successfully establish themselves in Canada as permanent residents.
- Official language testing remains widely available and testing organizations, in most countries, are not significantly impacted by COVID-19 reductions in service.
- These requirements have not proven to be barriers, as demand for the pathways remains relatively high.
- In order to qualify for permanent residence, applicants must also have acquired 24 months of caregiving work experience over a 36-month period. This additional flexibility is intended to provide leeway for short periods when caregivers are not working or need to change employers due to COVID-19 or for other reasons.
Table: Reference on family members for caregiver streams
Family members able to accompany the applicant to Canada?
|Live-in Caregiver Program (1992-2014)||NoTable note * – Family separation prolonged given no provisions available for family members to accompany applicant to Canada.||Yes – Family members able to join applicant in Canada once caregiver approved for permanent residence.|
|Interim Pathway for Caregivers (2019)|
|2014 Caregiver Pilots
Caring for Children
Caring for People with High Medical Needs
|2019 Caregiver Pilots
Home Child Care Provider
Home Support Worker
Yes – Family members are eligible to come with the applicant to Canada once applicant is approved for the work permit associated with these pathways. Family members provided with open work/study permits.
Once the principal applicant receives approval in principle (24-month work experience component is met), they are eligible for a bridging work permit and family members in Canada are eligible for an open work permit.
|Yes – For caregivers applying directly for permanent residence (already acquired the necessary work experience), family members are eligible to join applicant in Canada once caregiver is approved for permanent residence.|
Previous caregiver programs
- 2014 caregiver pilots: In November 2014, the Department phased out the longstanding regulatory Live-in Caregiver Program, at the same time establishing two five-year Ministerial Instructions pilots – the Caring for Children and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs classes – and the live-in requirement was eliminated for new (first-time) caregiver work permits. Those pilots were due to expire in November 2019, but were closed and replaced a few months in advance of that when the new 2019 caregiver pilots launched June 18, 2019. The 2014 pilots had similar criteria to the new pilots, but included more occupations; however, uptake under the 2014 pilots was low in every year, and the new 2019 pilots focus on the two occupations where demand for a pathway proved to be higher (in-home child care and in-home support work).
- Interim Pathway for Caregivers: During consultations in 2018, leading up to the design and launch of the new caregiver classes, IRCC heard that the changes made in 2014 were not well understood by caregivers and stakeholders. In March 2019, the Department launched the Interim Pathway for Caregivers: a three-month pathway with reduced eligibility criteria for caregivers who were working in Canada but who had been unable to qualify for other caregiver permanent residence programs. Initially opened to applications from March to June 2019, it reopened for a second window from July 2019 to October 2019. Application volumes were significant; over 4,000 caregivers, plus family members, applied through the pathway.
- Live-in Caregiver Program: The Live-in Caregiver Program was a legacy (pre-dating the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act) prescribed transition pathway in place from 1992 to 2014. While the Program is closed to new applicants, caregivers who have worked on a work permit under the Program can still apply for permanent residence through this pathway. However, there are now estimated to be very few workers who have not already applied for permanent residence. The Program is expected to phase out once these clients have applied and their cases are processed to finalization. The legacy program was plagued by a wide range of concerns, including no volume or intake control at the temporary stage, leading to significant application inventories and backlogs, and prolonged processing times of seven to eight years in some cases, during which the caregiver continued to work in live-in arrangements separated from their family living overseas.
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