Ottawa, December 15, 2011 — Live-in caregivers will be able to get open work permits about 18 months sooner, thanks to a processing change announced today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

“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 the Minister. “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.”

The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) 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. Caregivers are obliged to work for two years, or 3,900 hours, and then become eligible to apply for permanent residence in Canada.

Until now, live-in caregivers waited for an initial approval on their application for permanent residence before being eligible for an open work permit. An open work permit allows the caregiver to move out of their employer’s home and seek jobs in other fields, if that is their wish. As of December 11, 2011, all live-in caregivers who had met their obligations and submitted an application for permanent residence have had their files reviewed. Those who submitted an open work permit application with no missing information are being issued open work permits.

“I’d also like to thank the Toronto Caregiver Resource Centre for advocating on behalf of caregivers and bringing this situation to my attention,” the Minister added.

The LCP is a demand-based program and the number of caregivers accepted as permanent residents generally corresponds with the number who came to Canada as temporary foreign workers (TFWs) a few years earlier. For instance, about 4,700 live-in caregivers entered the program as TFWs in 2002, and about 4,500 permanent residents were accepted through the Live-in Caregiver Class in 2005. More than 7,200 caregivers entered the program in 2005 and about 10,400 individuals, including spouses and dependants of those caregivers, became permanent residents through the Live-in Caregiver Class three years later.

In 2010, CIC admitted a record number of permanent residents through the Live-in Caregiver Class—nearly 14,000 in all—corresponding with the record number of live-in caregivers who entered the country as TFWs in 2007.

In both 2009 and 2010, about five percent of all permanent residents to Canada were admitted through the Live-in Caregiver Class, a huge percentage for any single occupation.

However, the number of caregivers entering the program has declined every year since 2007.

“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,” the Minister 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."

The Government of Canada has taken action to protect live-in caregivers from abuse and exploitation with regulatory improvements implemented in the Live-in Caregiver Program in 2010 and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in 2011. Changes include:

  • allowing live-in caregivers to apply for permanent residence after 3,900 work hours, rather than two years of work, to ensure overtime is appropriately recognized;
  • 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 their work obligations, 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;
  • a dedicated phone service for live-in caregivers through the department’s Call Centre;
  • an assessment of the genuineness of the job offer, including confirmation that the caregiver would be residing in a private residence and providing child care, senior home support care or care of a disabled person in that household without supervision, as well as whether the employer has sufficient financial resources to pay the wages of the caregiver and whether the accommodations being provided are adequate; and
  • a two-year period of ineligibility from hiring foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, for employers who have failed to live up to the terms of past job contracts.