The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots opened for applications on June 18, 2019, and will run for five years.
The new caregiver pilots are designed to provide a clear, direct pathway to permanent residence for in-home caregivers. They remove specific barriers that caregivers have faced in the past, by making it easier for them to change employers, if needed, and by allowing for them to bring family members with them to Canada sooner.
Caregivers now receive an occupation-restricted open work permit if they have a job offer in Canada as part of their permanent residence application through the Caregiver pilots and have been assessed as meeting standard criteria for economic immigration programs.
Once working in Canada, caregivers can start gaining the required two years of Canadian work experience to become permanent residents.
For caregiver applications, the Department is projected to make:
up to 6,100 final decisions (in persons) on the permanent residence applications by the end of December 2021; and
a minimum of 1,500 eligibility decisions by June 2021 to facilitate the issuance of (temporary residence) work permits.
If pressed on vulnerability cases and issues:
The pandemic has highlighted the unique vulnerability of in-home work that is also live-in work. Concern over the special vulnerability of depending on an employer for your livelihood and your shelter has driven significant program change since 2014.
Ensuring the protection of temporary foreign workers in Canada is a top priority for the Government. The Government has tools in place to prevent and respond to situations of workplace abuse, and to help workers exit these situations when they do occur.
Time not working or laid-off, however, is not eligible time for the purposes of these or any other economic immigration program.
The Government has put in place a wide range of special measures to support workers needing to change employers, or to maintain 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 health care coverage. Administration of these programs falls within the jurisdiction of provincial/territorial governments and specific eligibility parameters differ between regions.
In most cases, caregivers with work permits would receive coverage for provincial health care, although there is often an initial waiting period which must elapse prior to the commencement of coverage. Those on extended/implied 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 unable to take advantage of the COVID-related facilitative measures or otherwise qualify for the caregiver pilots may also apply for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
COVID 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, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is monitoring whether this could become a barrier for some.
The Government has also introduced and extended pandemic-related measures that support foreign workers and visitors, to find work, change employers or to help them maintain their status.
Temporary foreign workers in Canada, including caregivers, may be eligible for COVID income supports, including the Canada Recovery Benefit, in certain circumstances, such as if they need to self-isolate or have lost income due to COVID-19.
Caregivers on occupation-restricted open work permits
Individuals working on occupation-restricted open work permits issued for the new pilots have the flexibility to find a new employer in their occupation should they need to, including 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, foreign workers (including caregivers) on employer-specific work permits who lose their job or have their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19 could find a new employer and have their work permit application expedited. They may also 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 a valid Labour Market Impact Assessment. 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 be determinative of 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.
Caregiver pilot processing times
Applications (either for permanent residence only, or permanent residence and work permit applications) have a 12-month processing service target.
For applicants who were also issued a work permit under this process (because they did not have the 24-months work experience), a 6-month processing target applies to the final stage of the application once the caregiver submits proof they have met the 24-month Canadian occupational work experience requirement.
There have been delays in processing applications for the caregiver pilots associated with the pandemic, but processing has recently begun to resume.
Given unprecedented processing challenges in 2020, processing of new pilot applications effectively stopped in March 2020, and has only recently started to resume. Office closures and the prioritization of other lines of business affected IRCC’s ability to manage application intake to the legislative limit of 2,750 per pilot.
It is anticipated that Caregiver processing will fully resume in April 2021 and will ramp up over the summer; it is also anticipated that applications will be digitized to facilitate remote processing.
Cap on applications under the pilots
The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots can process up to 2,750 applications annually, for a total of 5,500 applications per year, plus family.
In 2020, the Home Child Care Provider class became the first ministerial instruction pilot program to reach its limit on applications, prompting the need to post a notice on November 2, 2020. The pilot reopened to applications on January 1, 2021.
Hiring caregivers as temporary foreign workers
The Department has stopped processing new work permit applications in the home child care provider or home support worker occupations for overseas foreign nationals for the duration of the pilots. Instead, caregivers with a job offer to work in Canada are issued a work permit after they’ve been assessed for permanent residence. This supports the pilots’ goal of providing caregivers coming to Canada with a clear pathway to staying in Canada. This does not apply to foreign nationals 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 in the two pilot occupations through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (supported by a Labour Market Impact Assessment). They may also apply for permanent residence through the new pilots.
The two pilot occupations are included on the list of priority occupations for expedited work permit processing, for those in Canada applying for a new or extended work permit.
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 sector. In particular, IRCC is aware of the significant need for personal support workers to work in long-term care facilities, nursing homes, and hospitals.
Personal support workers, also called Continuing Care Assistants, are 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. In fact, personal support workers are on some provinces’ and territories’ “occupations in demand” lists.
Provincial Nominee Program streams often target workers with previous in-Canada work experience (although some target workers directly from overseas) and knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages.
In 2020, based on feedback from provinces and territories, the occupation of nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates (National Occupational Classification (NOC) 3413) was added to the list of eligible occupations for the NOC C Initiative currently being run through the Provincial Nominee Program. 2021 will be the last year of this temporary initiative.
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 Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot is Canada’s model for refugee labour mobility. Phase I of the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot saw a total of 7 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.
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 was 5,000. Office and border closures are expected to result in lower 2020 admissions. Preliminary estimates suggest in the range of 2,800 caregivers, and their family, were admitted as permanent residents in 2020.
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 1-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.
Previous caregiver programs
The Government launched the Interim Pathway for Caregivers to provide another opportunity for caregivers in Canada to stay permanently. The pathway required reduced work experience and education criteria compared to the 2014 pilot programs and current pilots. Open to applications for a total of six months in 2019, over 4,000 caregivers applied under the pathway, plus their families. While the pathway is now closed to new applications, all applications received will be processed.
The Live-in Caregiver Program was phased-out beginning in 2014 due to persistent concerns over vulnerability and family separation. The program has resulted in high volumes of admissions of caregivers in recent years as the Department worked to process on a priority basis the accumulated inventory of applications. There are still some caregivers in Canada working under “legacy” Live-in Caregiver Program work permits; of those, most have already applied for permanent residence.
The Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs pilots, launched in 2014, replaced the Live-in Caregiver Program, but were terminated in 2019 just prior to their expiry, when the 2019 pilots launched. While eligibility criteria are similar between the 2014 and 2019 pilots, the 2019 pilots focus on two occupations where demand for a caregiver pathway is highest (home child care and support workers), because other pathways are limited.
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