The Live-In Caregiver Program is currently undergoing major changes, all of which are aimed towards improving the lives of live-in caregivers and providing them with opportunities to be with their families the soonest time possible.

A Look at the Live-In Caregiver Program

The Live-In Caregiver Program has been a part of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program ever since.

This program enables Canadian nationals to hire foreign individuals to care for their very young, very old or handicapped relatives.

Live-in caregivers reside in the home of their employers, and they can apply for permanent residency after two years of caregiving experience in Canada.

Changes in the Live-In Caregiver Program

The changes in the program include, primarily, the removal of the live-in requirement among caregivers.

This means that caregivers are no longer required to be in a live-in set-up; they can still offer care without needing to live in the home of their employers. This means several things:

• That caregivers will be less vulnerable to various unfavorable conditions such as unpaid overtime, poor living conditions, and others

• That employers will no longer need to allot a private room for their live-in caregiver

• That caregivers will most likely have higher wages because there will be no more deductions for room and board

It is important to note that employers and caregivers can still engage in a live-in set-up if both parties agree.

In such cases, the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) sent to the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) will include an evaluation of the living conditions in the employer’s home.

The employer will also be prohibited from deducting board and room fee from the salary of the caregiver.

Application for Permanent Residency After Two Years

Aside from the major change involving the removal of the live-in requirement in the Caregiver Program, the Canadian government also introduced two new pathways toward permanent residency for caregivers.

These were introduced on Nov. 30, 2014, and processing for these pathways are targeted within six months after application. Below are the new pathways and their requirements:

(1) Caring for Children Pathway (annual application cap is 2750 principal applicants only, not including spouses and dependents)

• Two years of full-time work experience as a home child care provider in Canada within the past four years

• Minimum language requirement of “initial intermediate”. This means the applicant has to meet Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in a designated third-party language test

• At least one year of Canadian post-secondary education or the equivalent foreign credential, supported by an Educational Credential Assessment

(2) Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway (annual application cap is 2750 principal applicants only, not including spouses and dependents)

• Two years of full-time work experience in Canada, providing in-home care or care in a health facility to the elderly or persons with disabilities or chronic disease (as a registered nurse, a registered psychiatric nurse, a licensed practical nurse, a nurse aide, a patient service associate, or a home support worker)

• License to practice in Canada, if applicable

• Minimum language requirement of “intermediate” if applicant is applying as a registered nurse or registered psychiatric nurse. This means the applicant has to meet Canadian Language Benchmark 7 in a designated third-party language test

• Minimum language requirement of “initial intermediate” if applicant is applying in any other qualifying occupation other than the two mentioned above. This means applicant has to meet Canadian Language Benchmark 5 in a designated third-party language test

• At least one year of Canadian post-secondary education or an equivalent foreign credential, supported by an Educational Credential Assessment

Impact to Caregivers

An immigration consultant we queried said this as her observation; “It looks like in-home caregivers, although on work permit can attend school while employed, which was prohibited under the old live-in caregiver program and it looks like in-home caregivers are now allowed to work in seniors’ homes or other residential institutions.”

She also points out that the educational and language credentials included in the new pathways are rather new additional requirements in the permanent residency program for caregivers.

Given the 5500 total cap for the two new pathways every year, the importance of preparation cannot be stressed enough. It would seem that caregivers will have to prepare way in advance of their application to ensure their chance of being approved as permanent residents.