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Canada’s Caregiver Program Undergoing Changes

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: March 8, 2018

It’s only natural that when we need help, we tend to turn to compassionate and qualified caregivers. Whether we are dealing with challenging disease, terminal illness or a child who needs care beyond what we are able to give, these issues cause us to look to those with both expertise and a willingness for the work, for assistance.



But what if those individuals are in short supply in Canada? The hours can be long and conditions unpleasant for caregivers, yet there are people in other countries willing and able to do the work when no one is available domestically. Foreign caregivers may also have a vision of establishing their family members and themselves as permanent residents in Canada as a result of being a caregiver which potentially could be of great benefit for the Canadians in need of their service. The Canadian government has introduced a number of foreign caregiver programs over the years and 2019 is likely to see more changes to the existing program.

Canada’s Caregiver Program is believed to be the only program of its kind in the world where foreign caregivers and their dependents can obtain permanent residence status after completing two years of full-time employment as a caregiver in Canada.

Many foreign caregivers make use of the Canadian Super visa program to stay in Canada with their children or grandchildren who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. The Parent and Grandparent Super visa program is a temporary resident visa for parents and grandparents to stay up to two years in Canada per visit with their child or grandchild. Not everyone coming to Canada to be a caregiver will do so on a Super Visa since not all caregiver applicants have family in Canada.

The caregiver program in Canada

The caregiver program seems like a great opportunity for both the Canadian families who need help and the foreign workers who are willing and able to do the work, but recent discussions in the Canadian government have put a different face on Canada’s Caregiver Program which was most recently changed and re-introduced in 2014.

At present, three options exist for applying for the caregivers – options for permanent residence program: the caring for children program, the caring for people with high medical needs program and the live-in caregiver program. Each option has its own specific requirements but in early 2018, the Canadian government’s immigration department announced that two of the programs (caring for children and caring for people with high medical needs) are under review and it’s uncertain whether the programs will be discarded, made permanent or replaced with new programs. It appears that there have been no such changes to the live in caregiver program.

Caught in the middle

While the caregiver program in Canada was a pilot program set to last five years (expiring November 29, 2019) there are those who are caught in the middle so to speak. If foreign caregivers have not accrued two years of employment by the program’s expiry, they will not be eligible for permanent residence.

For many who had their caregiver applications processed in the weeks leading up to November 2017, there is no way to meet the two-year work requirement. This obviously causes uncertainty among those who have jobs but are unable to fulfill the two-year requirement as well as those who may have changed jobs or had gaps in their employment preventing them from reaching the two-year minimum.

Those who have the two-years of full-time employment by the November 29, 2019 deadline must submit their permanent residency application before the end of the pilot program. Obviously if the caregiver applicant can’t meet the requirements, the family members who came with them are also left in a state of uncertainty around their permanent residency application. Those who came on a parent or grandparent Super Visa are able to stay the maximum two year period, but here too – if they haven’t met the requirements of the caregiver program – will be denied permanent residency.

Coming in under the deadline

For those who meet the two-year full-time work requirement, there may still be more to do as there are other expectations from the Canadian government in order to allow the approval of the permanent residency application. One of those expectation is education. Those eligible for permanent residency must have one year of post-secondary study in Canada or a foreign diploma or certificate with recognized equivalency.

Additionally, caregivers must pass the language requirements – a Level 5 ranking in a French or English language test conducted in Canada. Those caregivers who are registered nurses or psychiatric nurses must pass a level 7 test.

While the Canadian government has long said the concern is ensuring that jobs Canadians can do aren’t going to foreign workers. Obviously there is a need for foreign caregivers, but this is cold comfort for those foreigners who are in Canada hoping to stay as a result of their belief in a program intended to provide them with permanent residency and stability for themselves and their dependants.

Those who have come to Canada on a Super visa and have met the requirements will have already put a number of things in place prior to having their Super visa approved. One is medical insurance coverage for all people on the visa from a Canadian insurance company, while another is a letter of invitation written and signed by the host child or grandchild promising financial support for the entire duration the applicant intends to stay in Canada.

Coming to Canada for a better life is a dream for many individuals living in other countries. It’s often seen as a way to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. One option to come to Canada is if a parent or grandparent has a child or grandchild as a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, using a Super visa. Another option may or may not make use of the Super visa, but is the Canadian Caregiver Program. Anyone interested in the caregiver program is advised to do research to determine if the potential changes will impact the outcome.


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