Caregiver Program

We are often asked “how can I immigrate to Canada as a caregiver and what skills do I need to qualify for Canadian immigration as a caregiver?”

Bellissimo Immigration Law Group PC receives many inquiries about the caregiver program, from both potential employers and foreign workers alike. It is a well-known fact that it is hard to find qualified workers to care for some of the most precious people in our lives: our children and our elders.

The caregiver program has significantly changed in the last decade, from the Live-in Caregiver program to a few other pilots, including the changes to the legislation in 2014 and ending with the most significant amendments implemented in June 2019. There have been a series of improvements, along the way, including no longer requiring mandatory residence in the employer’s home as was previously the requirement. This was related to the fact that the caregiver must travel alone to Canada without the ability to have their families accompanying them to Canada.

It was not rare that after a separation of at least three years, many families were broken, never to be together again.  Or in many cases, after the caregiver went through the program, sacrificed years, the application was refused because one of the family members was inadmissible, medically or criminally. Under the current legislation, there are two programs for caregivers:

  1. Home Child Care Provider and
  2. Home Support Worker

The changes to the program are significant for all caregiver applicants and we will mention a few:

  • The caregiver applies for permanent residence from the very beginning and their family will be included in their application;
  • They will not be restricted to working for a specific employer, thus trying to eliminate abuse and exploitation of the caregivers by their employers;
  • The employer will not need to submit a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) application to Service Canada (ESDC), thus making the job offer more “user-friendly” to the employers in dire need of caregivers;
  • When the work permit as a caregiver is approved, the whole family (qualifying dependents) can accompany them to Canada with immigration status of their own;

Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) established a cap of 2750 visas per year for each of the two categories for a total of 5500 Canadian immigration caregiver visas annually. This year, the cap for the first category (Home Child Care Provider) was reached by the middle of January 2022. The second category of caregivers (Home Support Workers) is still open. The requirements to apply are similar to the requirements for permanent residence and work permits:

  • The application made is for both a work permit and permanent residence, submitted at the same time to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC);
  • The applicant must meet the requirements for a work permit in Canada, meaning mainly that they have experience as caregivers in one of the two streams (National Occupational Classification – NOC CODES 4411 or 4412)
  • The work permit issued by IRCC to the applicant is an “occupation-restricted” open work permit, meaning the caregiver can work for any employer, but only as a caregiver, no other occupation;
  • The applicant must receive a genuine offer of employment from the employer (no LMIA required);
    • the employment will have to be full-time (at least 30 hours /week),
    • paid work, with regular vacation time and at minimum the hourly rate established by IRCC for the occupation;
    • the employment offer must be from a Canadian employer outside of Quebec;
  • Language level requirement: the applicant must pass the General International English Language Testing System (IELTS) that is managed by the British Council (cost is approximately USD 250) or Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) language test (English or French) and score a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in each skill: writing, reading, listening and speaking;
  • Education requirement:  the applicant must have had completed a post-secondary program / credential of at least one year. If the degree or diploma was obtained abroad (outside of Canada), the applicant must obtain first the Educational Credential Assessment report, from an organization recognized by the IRCC. The report will show the equivalency of their credential compared to a Canadian credential;
  • Again, the National Occupational Classification (NOC) used for the two streams of caregivers are codes 4411 or 4412;
  • Last, but not least, the whole family that submits the application must be admissible to Canada. IRCC will conduct a background check for every family member of 18 years or older.  The whole family will have also to pass a medical test. A few reasons for inadmissibility might include:
    • Security reasons;
    • Human rights violations;
    • Criminality including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, use or sale of drugs;
    • Misrepresentation;
    • Previous Removal Order from Canada;
    • Financial reasons – meaning you and your family are not able to support yourselves;
    • Medical reasons;
    • If previously been to Canada and not complied with the conditions (example – one overstayed his/her status, studied or worked without a permit, etc.)

IRCC will review the permanent residence and work permit applications and, if the applicant and family meet the eligibility criteria, they will issue an open work permit for one of the two NOC codes, as stated above.

Processing times for Canadian caregiver applications take approximately 12 months or longer, for a successful foreign worker to receive a work permit. Therefore, employers who want to hire caregivers from abroad, must plan ahead, as this might take some time. 

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