In case you missed it, the Government of Canada just announced that they will be introducing two new pilot programs under the Caregiver Program. It is expected that only 5,500 Work Permits will be issued.
The biggest change in the program is that Caregivers will now be allowed to bring their families with them when they start working for their employers, with the bonus of having pre-approved Permanent Residency.
That means, Caregivers get to bring their family members with them when they start working in Canada.
Caregivers who will bring their family members with them to Canada will be required to provide Proof of Funds (more commonly known as Show Money).
One of the most persistent problems of the Caregiver Program (formerly known as the Live-In Caregiver Program LCP), a stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program TWFP, was that Caregivers spent so much time away from their families, working in other countries like Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, before coming to Canada.
Many Caregivers spend years in Canada alone before being able to apply for Permanent Residency and have their families join them.
Under the old Live-in Caregiver Program LCP, Caregivers had to come to Canada first, work for specific Canadian employers for a predetermined period of time before being able to apply for Permanent Residency.
Only after after having been granted Permanent Residency by the Government of Canada would a Caregiver’s family be allowed to join them in Canada.
The Live-In Caregiver Program LCP ended in November 2014.
Many OFW families do not survive the prolonged separation intact. Working overseas is difficult, with reports of failed marriages and estranged children are commonplace.
It is often said that the life of a Caregiver only truly begins when their family members join them in Canada.
Caregivers must establish a firm foundation for their family members, who will themselves have to go through their own challenges as they settle in their new lives in Canada.
Many OFWs choose to remain as caregivers, or continue working in minimum wage positions.
New Caregiver pilot program pre-approved Permanent Residency
The Caregiver Program, which continues to be very popular with Filipino workers, allows Canadian employers approved by the Government of Canada to hire foreign workers to hire OFWs as Caregivers.
Despite the low wages and the inherently difficult nature of the job, many OFWs find the Caregiver Program as their best shot at bringing their family members to Canada.
Under the new program announced on Saturday, February 23, 2019., OFWs and their family members will eceive pre-approved Permanent Residency.
OFWs applying as Caregivers will be assessed for eligibility for Permanent Residency even before they arrive in Canada.
As part of the changes made under the new pilot programs, Caregivers will receive a new, occupation-specific Work Permits.
The new Work Permits will allow Caregivers to change employers without the need for submitting an application for a new Work Permit.s
Who can come to Canada with Caregivers?
The new Caregiver pilot programs, which are both scheduled to run for 5 years, will allow Caregivers to bring their family members, including: spouses, common-law partners and dependent children.
Open Work Permits will be issued to Caregivers’ spouses and common-law partners, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer who will take them.
Study Permits will be issued to dependent children, which will allow them to register for school.
Minister Ahmed Hussen of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada IRCC released a statement saying that, “Caregivers provide care to families in Canada that need it, and it’s time for Canada to care for them in return. We are providing them with both the opportunity to bring their family members here and access permanent residency to demonstrate our commitment.”
Details on the minimum requirements for Permanent Residency will be forthcoming. Also to be determined will be or what will happen to OFWs who don’t qualify for Permanent Residency and end up overstaying their Work Permits.
In 2014, Citizenship and Immigration Canada CIC (the precursor of IRCC) no longer required Caregivers to live in their Canadian employers’ homes. CIC also required higher educational and language proficiency from Caregiver applicants.
Caregivers receive a lot of support from local advocates, who criticized the changes in 2014.
Critics of the Caregiver Program have been saying that there were a lot of Caregivers unable to apply for Permanent Residency due to the changes in requirements, and clamoured for immediate Permanent Residency be granted to Caregivers upon arrival.
Current Caregivers can still apply
OFWs already in Canada can take advantage of the Interim Pathways for Caregivers program being launched by IRCC.
For a very limited time (from March 4 to June 4 only), Caregivers will be able to apply for Permanent Residency.
Caregivers must already be in Canada and have worked legally for at least a year, and have completed a language proficiency exam like IELTS, and have earned the equivalent of a Canadian high school diploma.
Minister Hussen also said that “This interim program is being launched after hearing directly from caregivers and interested parties that the previous changes made in 2014 were not well understood. Many caregivers began working for families in Canada, only to find later that they were not going to qualify for permanent residence under an existing program.”
Further details on the the Interim Pathways for Caregivers program is available on the official IRCC website.
Caregiver Program still very popular with Filipinos
The latest updates to the Caregiver Program comes as the November deadline for the current pilot programs fast approaches.
The Caregiver Program is still very popular with Filipinos because it is one of Canada’s very few programs that allows foreign workers to come to Canada with minimal education and work experience, and still be able to apply for Permanent Residency after meeting the program’s minimum requirements.
Also, Caregivers don’t need to meet the “show money” or Proof of Funds requirement.
However, that looks to change if Caregivers opt to bring their families to Canada at the start of their employment.
If a Caregiver chooses to bring their families with them to Canada at the start of their employment, they must show that they are financially able to provide for them.
While Canadian employers are responsible for making sure that Caregivers are paid the appropriate wages, they are not responsible for taking care of the rest of the family.
For many years, the Caregiver Program (and its predecessors) has been heavily criticized for creating difficult working environments for foreign workers, and keeping families apart for years on end. The newly announced pilot programs look to address the many concerns surrounding the Caregiver Program.
The updates to the Caregiver Program will make the following changes:
1) Foreign workers will be allowed to bring their family members with them to Canada at the beginning of their employment.
2) Pre-approved Permanent Residency
Caregiver Program: only 5,500 Work Permits available
There will be a limit of 5,500 Caregiver Work Permits to be issued for 2019.
Family members and other qualified dependents who choose to join the Caregiver at the start of their employment will not count towards the 5,500 limit.
Caregivers advocates in Canada have pressed for sweeping changes to the Caregiver Program for many years, including granting Permanent Residency to foreign workers upon arrival.
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