Visa Options for Foreign Caregivers in Canada
In this article we will describe both programs, as well as alternative immigration program that may be suitable for a foreigner who wishes to immigrate to Canada as a caregiver (also often referred as Au Pair or Nanny):
Canada has progressive family policies and seeks gender equality in employment. As a result, the ‘stay-at-home parent’ tradition is less common among families with young children. Whether due to a demanding career, increasing family wealth, or a challenging household, extra help is often needed; therefore, the demand for caregivers in Canada is growing.
Additionally, the percentage of people 65+ years old is constantly increasing. In 2021, 18% of the total Canadian population falls in this age group. That is why caregivers in Canada are in great demand.
During previous decades, Canada has had a temporary worker program for foreign caregivers that offered the possibility of obtaining work permits and permanent residency at the end of a “live-in” period in the home of the caregiver’s employer. “Live-in” lasted two years. If a caregiver left the house of his or her employer during this period, he or she could not apply for permanent residency in Canada. Thus, caregivers were in total dependence on their employers. Unfortunately, these often led to contract violations and breaches of employment standards legislation regarding caregivers. Respectively, caregivers rarely could file a complaint as their employers could terminate their employment and they lost their chances for permanent residency.
Considering such a situation, the Canadian government introduces some changes to immigration pathways for caregivers, the main of which was the replacement of the “live-in” period with the language, education, and work requirements for caregivers that are described in this article.
In 2021, Canada offers two economic immigration programs for caregivers who want to immigrate to Canada and get permanent residence status:
- Home Child Care Provider Pilot (HCCPP); and
- Home Support Workers Pilot (HSWP).
These programs are administered by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a government agency responsible for immigration affairs. The two pilot programs are a replacement for the old Live-in Caregiver program, which is now closed to new applicants. The new programs were developed for caregivers who:
- Have a job offer for a caregiver position in Canada; or
- Have 2 years of Canadian work experience in a caregiver occupation.
The Canadian government establishes a limit on the number of caregivers who can obtain permanent resident status in Canada each year. In 2021, IRCC plans to welcome 6,000 caregivers:
- 2,750 applicants under the Home Child-Care Provider Pilot; and
3,250 applicants under the Home Support Worker Pilot.
The programs close for the year when the total number of applications exceeds the above limits. For example, in 2021 the HCCPP closed in April. This program will be reopened to new applications on January 1, 2022. If you are interested in applying for this program, you should plan well in advance of this date.
Overview of the 2021 programs for caregivers:
- Home Child Care Provider Pilot: Home child care providers care for children on an ongoing or short-term basis. They care for the well-being and physical and social development of children, assist parents with child care, and may assist with household duties. This program is created for applicants who are interested in jobs such as:
- Child care live-in caregiver;
- Parent’s helper;
- Others jobs covered by NOC (National Occupation Classification) code 4411.
- Home Support Workers Pilot: Home support workers provide personal care and companionship for seniors, persons with disabilities and convalescent clients. Typically, care is provided within the client's residence, in which the home support worker may also reside. The program is developed for applicants who are interested in occupations such as:
- Family caregiver;
- Live-in caregiver;
- Attendant for persons with disabilities; and
- Others that are determined by NOC code 4412.
To be eligible for caregiver immigration programs, a person must:
- Be admissible to Canada;
- Meet the educational requirements;
- Meet the minimum language requirements;
- Intend to live and work in a province or territory other than Quebec;
- Have at least two years of full-time qualifying Canadian work experience in the relevant caregiver occupation within the last three years, or have a valid-full time job offer from a Canadian employer in a caregiver occupation and be able to perform the caregiver work.
Please note that applicants do not have to be employed at the time they apply for permanent residence through the Home Child-Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot.
Depending on the length of the applicant’s qualifying Canadian work experience, there are two ways to apply for permanent residence under the HCCPP or HSWP.
- An applicant who has less than 24 months of qualifying Canadian work experience or none at all must use the following procedure:
- Apply for permanent residence under either the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or the Home Support Worker Pilot: Depending on the planned occupation, the applicant must choose the right application package, prepare all necessary documents, and pay the fees.
- Apply for a work permit: The applicant must fill out all required forms, gather documents, pay the fees, and submit this application together with the application for permanent residence.
- Wait for approval: If an applicant meets all the requirements—in other words, gets a positive permanent residence pre-assessment—he or she will be issued an occupation-restricted open work permit that will allow the applicant to work as a caregiver for any employer.
- Complete at least 24 months of qualifying Canadian work experience: While working in Canada during this period, the application for permanent residence will be delayed, but not returned or rejected. Once the applicant obtains enough work experience, he or she must send proof of this to IRCC.
- Wait for approval: the IRCC will make a final decision on the applicant’s application for permanent residence within a reasonable period of time.
- If an applicant already has 24 or more months of qualifying Canadian work experience, the application procedure is easier:
- Apply for permanent residence under either the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or the Home Support Worker Pilot: The applicant must choose the right application package, prepare all necessary documents, including those that prove their work experience, and pay the fees.
- Wait for approval: the IRCC will make a final decision and communicate it to the applicant.
Please note that if an applicant is legally working in Canada at the time of application for permanent residence, but has a work permit that will expire before the final decision on the permanent residence application is made, he or she must apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) together with the application for permanent residence.
A person who does not meet the requirements for the Home Child Care Provider or Home Support Worker pilot programs may still be able to work temporarily as a caregiver in Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP). The applicant instead will be issued a Temporary Work Permit and obtain temporary resident status in Canada. To be eligible for TFWP as a caregiver, the person must either:
- Plan to work in Quebec as a caregiver;
- Already be present in Canada with legal status.
The person who applies for a Temporary Work Permit must use the standard procedure for applying for a Work Permit in Canada.
Please note that if you are outside Canada and want to work as a caregiver, you may apply only under the HCCPP or HSWP.
How long is the processing time for caregivers’ permanent residence applications?
The average processing time for both HCCPP and HSWP is 12 months. However, note that for applicants who do not have two years of qualifying Canadian work experience, the processing time starts only after they have obtained the required experience.
How much does permanent residence under HCCPP and HSWP cost?
Right of permanent residence fee
If an applicant includes his or her spouse or common-law partner in the application, the applicant must pay double these fees.
CAN $150 must be paid for each dependent child included in the application. You will also need to pay the biometric fee for any child included in the application who is aged 14 to 19; however, biometric fees are capped at CAN $170 per family.
Please note that if you do not have two years of qualifying Canadian work experience you must also pay a separate work permit fee and get another receipt.
The work permit fee for caregivers is CAN $255.
Remember to have both your receipts printed to add them to the final application as proof of payment!
Are caregivers still in demand in Canada?
Yes, caregivers are in great demand in Canada. For instance, the quota for the 2021 HCCPP program was filled in in merely 4 months.
What is the minimum language requirement for caregivers?
An applicant must possess good language skills in English or French and score at least 5 on the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) test or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadien (NCLC) respectively for all language skills:
The Canadian government also recognizes results of IELTS, CELPIP, TEF Canada, and TCF Canada tests that were completed within two years before the application. There are special equivalence charts for the above tests.
What are the educational requirements for caregivers?
An applicant must have a completed post-secondary education credential of at least 1 year in Canada, or, lacking that, must get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to show that their completed education level is equal to a completed Canadian post-secondary education credential of at least 1 year.
What does ‘qualifying Canadian work experience’ mean?
It is full-time work experience in the fields covered by NOC 4411 or NOC 4412 respectively for the Home Child-Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot. Full-time work means at least 30 hours of paid work per week. Canadian work experience does not need to be continuous to qualify. A reasonable period of vacation time (up to a 2-week period within a year) will be counted towards meeting the work experience requirement.
Note that all applicants must have had temporary resident status during the period of work experience acquired in Canada. Only authorized work will be counted towards the work experience requirement.
What type of job offer is eligible for the caregiver immigration programs?
An applicant who has less than two years’ work experience must obtain a job offer that is:
- For full-time employment as a home child-care provider or home support worker position, respectively;
- For a position outside the province of Quebec; and
- Likely to remain valid when the applicant is approved to move to Canada.
What does ‘the ability to perform caregiver work’ mean?
An applicant is considered to be a person able to perform caregiver work if he or she provides:
- Proof of relevant previous employment (either paid or unpaid), which can have taken place outside Canada;
- Copies of relevant education credentials or training certificates recognized in Canada.
Can family members be brought to Canada under the caregivers immigration programs?
Yes, the applicant’s family members are eligible to come with him or her to Canada. If they want to work or study while in Canada, an applicant can include their work or study permit applications with his or her principal application.
How much are caregivers paid in Canada?
According to ca.indeed.com, the Canadian job bank web-site, the average caregivers’ hourly pay ranges from approximately CAN $12.45 per hour for In Home Caregiver to CAN$18.61 per hour for Personal Care Assistant. Average caregivers’ wages range from approximately $32,404 per year for an In Home Caregiver to $42,427 per year for a Group Manager. Of course, the individual salary may be outside this range due to the special circumstances of a particular caregiver.
Can you apply for a caregiver position without experience?
An applicant can apply for the pilot immigration programs for caregivers even if he or she does not have qualifying Canadian work experience. However, an applicant must have a valid job offer for a caregiver occupation in Canada.
Applicants in such cases will be issued an occupation-restricted open work permit for three years, which will allow them to get the necessary two years of work experience in Canada. During this period, a person's application for permanent residence will be delayed but it will not be returned or rejected.
What is an Occupation-restricted Open Work Permit (OOWP)?
This is a kind of work permit that allows an applicant to work for any employer, but only in the occupation specified on the work permit. When applying for HCCPP or HSWP, the person holding an OOWP is restricted to accepting a caregiver occupation. The OOWP is issued after the applicant receives a positive pre-assessment of their permanent residence application. The OOWP is issued, either at the port of entry or in Canada, for a period of three years, regardless of whether or not the applicant has already accumulated some Canadian work experience as a caregiver. As a result, if a caregiver is unhappy with his or her employer, they can find a new caregiver job with a different employer, without any fear that the change may impact their immigration status.
Accompanying spouses and dependent persons at the age of majority are eligible for an open work permit (with the same validity as the caregiver principal applicant).
What is a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP)?
This is a kind of work permit issued to bridge the gap between the expiry of an applicant's current work permit and the final decision on his or her application for permanent residence under HCCPP or HSWP. To be eligible for a BOWP, a person must:
- Be the Principal Applicant of the permanent resident application under the HCCPP or HSWP;
- Have a valid work permit;
- Be currently in Canada and intend to live in a province or territory other than Quebec.
If you are interested in working as a caregiver in Canada and need assistance with immigration programs, please contact us. We will review your background and provide you with a realistic assessment of your chances of success. If you decide to pursue one or more immigration programs, we can manage your application and all related tasks.
The importance of providing clear, complete, and accurate information throughout the process cannot be overstated. It is usually a good idea to seek the assistance of a professional who is an expert in the process so that you avoid mistakes or provide incorrect information. We will assist you in all tasks of the program that you wish to pursue. Our team can a) recommend the pathway for immigrating to Canada that is most suitable for your profile, b) help you choose the application package appropriate for your circumstances, c) prepare all necessary documents, d) assist in any credentials assessments, and e) assist in preparing the applications for one or more of the special programs for caregivers or TFWP.
If you are unsure about your likelihood of success, contact us for a free evaluation. If you still have any other questions that are not addressed in this article, please contact us and we will be happy to help.