caregiver backlog
Most Caregivers already experience a significant wait due to circumstances beyond their control. Photo by @klimkin

It might not be obvious, but Filipino Caregivers in Canada have a reason to be worried about the continued entry of asylum seekers from the US to Canada. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has allocated more staff and resources to address the influx of refugees, negatively impacting processing times for other programs.

Since Donald Trump became President of the United States, thousands of people have crossed the border from the US to Canada hoping to claim asylum.

The US has taken a decidedly anti-migrant tone as of late, forcing asylum seekers to head north.

The surge in people crossing the border illegally has put substantial pressure on Canada’s immigration system, driving up the costs of patrolling its borders with the US and processing the asylum claims.

Canadian employers are quick to capitalize on the situation.

In Quebec, where people are crossing the border from New York, some companies are working hard to hire asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are hoping that working for Canadian companies will help in their application to stay.

Most asylum seekers are not conversant with either US or Canadian immigration laws.

In the US for example, asylum seekers are usually thrown in detention, and have to wait for six months before they can even start to work legally if they are approved.

In Canada (more specifically, Quebec), asylum seekers receive food and shelter, basic healthcare coverage, access to social services and welfare payments. They’re also given work permits to be able to support themselves.

It is difficult to determine the costs involved in providing these services to asylum seekers, with one report saying that it cost $2,650 per Syrian refugee per year for six years. Some reports say that the actual amounts are much higher.

The cost per person is driven up due to processing times, with average wait times taking up to 19 months.

The Government of Canada has tried to lower costs by expediting work permits for asylum seekers, issuing over 12,000 work permits to asylum seekers in Quebec.

The Government of Canada has also started moving asylum seekers who have already been issued work permits to other parts of Quebec where workers are in more urgent need.

Canadian employers in Quebec are optimistic about providing employment opportunities for the asylum seekers, but the Government of Canada is running out of options.

Acceptance rates for asylum seekers have fallen, with official IRCC statements saying that 90% of applications will be denied for not meeting the criteria for refugees.

While not a guarantee by any means, working for Canadian experience will certainly be a plus in any applications made by asylum seekers.

Advocates for asylum seekers in Quebec are encouraging the Government of Canada to transition to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and give them a chance to apply for permanent residency.

Both the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec are pointing fingers at each other, saying that the decision to do so would fall under the other’s respective jurisdictions.

Filipinos generally do not qualify for asylum in Canada. Those who overstay their visas are usually issued removal orders, instructing them to return to the Philippines.

Filipino workers under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s Live-In Caregiver Stream are processed by the same department, IRCC.

While there are many Caregiver recruitment agencies, Canada does not monitor nor does it license such third party representatives. Many agencies make promises to foreign workers, while illegally collecting recruitment fees from both Canadian employers and foreign workers.

Foreign workers, including caregivers from the Philippines, experience delays in their PR applications due to complications in their employment.

Filipino workers are urged to exercise caution when looking for caregiver jobs. The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued advisories to Filipino workers looking for a caregiver agency. Both the Government of Canada and the Philippine Government forbid the collection of recruitment fees from the Filipino worker.

Some caregivers have failed to meet the minimum requirements in order to apply for permanent residence, forcing them to appeal their cases on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The success rates for applications made on humanitarian and compassionate grounds is very, very low.

Filipino Caregivers in Canada are currently experiencing a backlog in their PR applications, with processing times of up to two years.

Expect the Caregiver backlog to continue, as the Government of Canada continues to struggle with the increasing numbers of asylum seekers crossing the border from the United States.

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