Caregivers who are interested in immigrating to Canada have two options. There are currently two immigration programs in operation that are specifically designed for caregivers. These two programs were launched in 2019 following the closure of the Interim Pathway for Caregivers.

Canada’s two pilot immigration programs for caregivers

Canada’s two current pilot programs for caregivers are accepting applications. Foreign caregivers coming to work in Canada will no longer have to leave close family members behind and will have a more straightforward pathway to Canadian permanent residence, thanks to the programs: The Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots.

The pilot programs opened for applications in 2019, replacing the expired Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs pilots, which have been criticized for keeping some workers stuck in abusive workplaces and apart from their families abroad. The Liberal government, which was not in office when those pilots were introduced in 2014, labeled them “ineffective”.

Processing times for the two new caregiver pathways have been slow to start. However, in 2021, the government announced a new initiative to process at least 6,000 caregiver applications by the end of the year.

The government states that it heard 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 out later that they were not going to qualify for permanent residence under an existing program.

Caregivers will now only receive a work permit if they have a job offer in Canada and meet standard criteria for economic immigration programs. Once working in Canada, caregivers will be able to begin gaining the required two years of Canadian work experience to apply for permanent residence.

Through the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot, caregivers will also benefit from:

  • occupation-specific work permits, rather than employer-specific, to allow for a fast change of employers when necessary;
  • open work permits and/or study permits for the caregivers’ immediate family, to help families come to Canada together; and
  • a clear transition from temporary to permanent status, to ensure that once caregivers have met the work experience requirement, they will be able to become permanent residents quickly.

These new pilots provide caregivers from abroad and their families with a clear, direct pathway to permanent residence.

“Canada is caring for our caregivers. We made a commitment to improve the lives of caregivers and their families who come from around the world to care for our loved ones and with these new pilots, we are doing exactly that,” stated Canada’s former Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, one of three senior government personnel tasked with announcing details of the new caregivers pilots in a blitz of media activity in Scarborough, Winnipeg, and Edmonton Saturday morning.

How do Canada’s new caregiver programs work?

Caregiver infographic

Source: IRCC

Caregivers in Canada: More details on changes

  • The Caring for Children and Caring for People with High Medical Needs programs expired as of June 18, 2019, and will no longer accept new applications. Caregivers who had applied before this date will continue to have their applications processed through to a final decision.
  • Caregivers who have been working toward applying to the soon-to-be-expired pilots can now apply through either the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or the Home Support Worker Pilot.
  • The Interim Pathway for Caregivers closed to new applicants on October 8, 2019. This was a short-term pathway for caregivers who came to Canada as temporary foreign workers since 2014 but were unable to qualify for permanent residence through an existing program.
  • The new pilots, Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker, will each have a maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, for a total of 5,500 principal applicants per year, plus their immediate family.
  • Initial applications to the new pilots will have a 12-month processing service standard. A six-month processing standard will apply for finalizing an application after the caregiver submits proof that they have met the work experience requirement.
  • With the move to occupation-specific work permits under the Home Child Care and Home Support Worker pilots, employers will no longer need a Labour Market Impact Assessment before hiring a caregiver from overseas.

To learn more about these changes to Canadian immigration for caregivers, click here.