In a move to address long-standing immigration concerns of Canada’s growing number of live-in caregivers, Immigration Minister Chris Alexander may allow foreign caregivers to apply for permanent residency under the government’s new Express Entry visa program.
Canada’s live-in caregivers were excluded when the government introduced its new Express Entry program earlier this year, but at the time it was made clear that reforms to the foreign caregiver program were forthcoming in the fall.
With the aging of the Canadian population, the demand for caregivers—especially foreign-born caregivers—has rapidly grown in recent years. However, both the caregivers’ association and many Canadian employers and families have complained that the immigration rules governing caregivers has not kept pace and continues to overburden those looking to hire foreign caregivers.
Under current law, foreign caregivers come to Canada as “temporary foreign workers”; after two years of work in Canada, they may apply for permanent residency however the current wait time for 80 percent of permanent resident applications is about 39 months.
According to Gruber Hersch, the immigration minister and his government are considering easing some restrictions to better facilitate the hiring of foreign caregivers. Those potential changes may include:
- Easing the requirement that caregivers live with the Canadian families that hire them, thereby allowing that choice to be optional
- Extending the time allowed for caregivers to study in Canada; under current rules, foreign caregivers are allowed to study for up to six months without obtaining a study permit
Under the government’s Express Entry program, which officially begins in the new year, applicants will be ranked based upon their professional skills, education and work experience; the government will then select only the most qualified candidates for permanent residency. Some caregiver groups have expressed concern that the tougher standards of the Express Entry program may make it more difficult for foreign caregivers to obtain Canadian permanent residency.
For his part, Immigration Minister Alexander has stated his government’s support for foreign caregivers, but hasn’t specified changes to immigration law that may affect the group. Alexander told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) that in 2014 “more live-in caregivers and nannies will see their permanent residency approved”, with approval expected for more than 17,500 applications.
However, Alexander cautioned that the approval of permanent residency applications should reflect the diversity of market demand for caregivers. “Canada needs (foreign) caregivers, but we need them in a broader ranger of occupations than ever before,” Alexander said.