On June 18, 2019, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) launched two new five-year pilot programs for eligible caregivers. The new programs are intended to make it easier for caregivers to change employers, bring their immediate families to Canada, and apply for permanent residence after obtaining two years of qualifying work experience in Canada.
The previous programs, Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs, ended on June 18, 2019. If you have already applied under one of these programs before that date, your application will continue to be processed. If you did not apply under these programs before June 18, 2019, you may be eligible to apply under the new programs.
The new pilot programs are Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker. The Home Child Care Provider program is directed at applicants with qualifying work experience under NOC 4411 – home child care provider (experience as a foster parent is excluded). The Home Support Worker program is directed at applicants with qualifying work experience under NOC 4412 – home support worker (experience as a housekeeper is excluded).
These programs offer a pathway to permanent residence for eligible caregivers. Applicant caregivers must have two years of full-time qualifying work experience in Canada and meet other eligibility requirements, such as language level (a minimum CLB 5 in English or NLCL 5 in French in all four language skills), education (equivalent of a completed Canadian post-secondary credential of at least one year), and admissibility requirements related to security, criminality, and medical reasons.
Caregivers who do not yet have two years of work experience may also apply if they have a valid and genuine job offer for one of the eligible occupations. Successful applicants will be issued occupation-restricted work permits. This is a change from the previous programs, which provided employer-specific work permits. The new occupation-specific work permits will allow applicants to work for any employer, so long as the work falls into the listed occupation. This means that it will be easier for applicants to change employers, and employers will not have to apply for Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA). Observers have noted that this change will hopefully offer caregivers greater protection from abusive workplaces by allowing them to obtain new employment without waiting for the LMIA process. For some families that rely on caregiving support, however, this change may also make it more challenging to retain caregivers.
Caregivers who have been issued work permits under one of these new programs can continue to work toward obtaining two years of full-time qualifying work experience. Once this work experience has been completed, applicants can submit proof of this to IRCC to have their permanent residence applications decided.
These programs are open to caregiver applicants who live inside and outside of Canada. If a caregiver has qualifying work experience in Canada under a different immigration program, they are still eligible to apply to these new programs for permanent residence.
Another welcome change under these new programs is the opportunity for caregivers’ families to accompany them to Canada. Caregivers are now able to apply for open work permits for their spouses or common-law partners and study permits for their dependent children.
The new programs each have an annual quota of 2,750 applicants, for a total of 5,500 applicants each year. Immediate family members are not included in these quotas. As the programs may fill up quickly, it will be especially important for caregivers currently working in Canada who need to extend their working status or who are currently eligible for permanent residence to apply as soon as possible.
In addition to these new pilot programs, the Interim Pathway for Caregivers program is also accepting applications from qualifying caregivers from July 8, 2019 to October 8, 2019. To qualify to apply for permanent residence under the Interim Pathway program, an applicant must have valid qualifying status in Canada, at least one year of full-time qualifying work experience in Canada as a home child care provider or home support worker, meet the required language skill levels, and have a Canadian high school diploma or a non-Canada educational credential that is equivalent to a Canadian high school diploma.
The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker programs are positive steps toward recognizing the invaluable contribution caregivers make to our communities and the importance of keeping caregivers’ families together. However, it remains to be seen whether these new programs will provide caregivers with a more efficient and safer pathway to permanent residence.
McCuaig Desrochers LLP is a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers (www.mccuaig.com). This article first appeared in the January 2021 edition of the Millwoods Mosaic – the Multicultural Voice of Southeast Edmonton and is intended to provide general information only and should not to be relied on as legal advice or opinion. We invite you to contact one of the members of our experienced immigration group for assistance.