Canadian immigration announces faster permanent residency for foreign caregivers

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Canadian immigration has now shortened the procedures needed for foreign live-in caregivers to obtain permanent resident status and has also announced several changes which they say will protect the caregivers from abusive employers. Canadian Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney stated the changes were the Canadian government's response to reports of abuse to foreign caregivers by their employers.

"Too many live-in caregivers have completed their work obligations but must continue living in the home of their employer, waiting for their application for permanent residence to be reviewed," said Kenney. "This is understandably frustrating. That's why we have started issuing open work permits to live-in caregivers as soon as they have completed their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence."

Under the new procedures, a foreign caregiver can apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than after two years of work as a caregiver in Canada as required under the old system, ensuring overtime is appropriately recognized. The Live-in Caregiver Program allows Canadian families to hire workers from abroad to provide care to a child, an elderly person or an adult with disabilities when there is a demonstrated shortage of Canadians and permanent residents to fill available positions.

"The change I have announced today will help caregivers settle into their new life in Canada while they wait for their permanent resident applications to be processed," Kenney added. "And with the significant improvements being made to our global case processing system, my department's officers will be better able to manage the file load between Canada and missions abroad and improve the efficiency of that processing."

In 2010, Canadian immigration admitted a record number of permanent residents through the Live-in Caregiver Class—nearly 14,000 in all— This is similar to the number of live-in caregivers who entered the country as temporary foreign workers in 2007.

The changes announced by Canadian immigration include:
  • the elimination of the need for a second medical examination when the caregiver applies for permanent residence;
  • increasing the amount of time a caregiver has to complete the required 3,900 hours for permanent residence from three years to four;
  • the adoption of a standardized employment contract that ensures both parties agree to the salary, hours of work, vacation time, overtime, holidays, sick leave, and the terms of termination and resignation;
  • defining the costs the employer is obliged to pay, including the caregiver's travel expenses in coming to Canada, medical insurance, workplace safety insurance and third-party representative fees;
  • emergency processing of work permits and employer authorizations to hire live-in caregivers who have been abused and need to leave their employment immediately; and
  • an assessment of the genuineness of the job offer, as well as confirming the employer has sufficient financial resources to pay the wages of the caregiver and whether the accommodations being provided are adequate.
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