Canada will prioritize the immigration processing of foreign caregivers so qualified applicants can get their permanent residence sooner or obtain work permits to come and care for Canadian families more quickly.
Under a plan unveiled Thursday, the immigration department said, it will finalize by Dec. 31 the permanent residence applications for as many as 6,000 eligible caregivers already in the queue.
With that status finalized, such workers will be able to reunite with the spouses and children many have left behind in order to work in this country.
Officials are also committed to rendering decisions on at least 1,500 applications under two recently created caregiver programs — Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots — by June 30.
The stepped-up effort to address the backlogs in caregiver processing came after the Star reported more than 9,100 caregivers eligible for permanent residence were waiting for their status, while only five applications had been processed under the new pilot programs since their 2019 inception.
Of those, four were withdrawn and one was refused, meaning no one had been authorized to come under the designated immigration program for foreign caregivers.
“Immigrant caregivers, who take care of our families and elders, are often separated from their own families, and the pandemic has significantly slowed down permanent residence application processing, keeping them apart from their families longer than we would have hoped,” Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said in a statement.
“We’re getting caregiver immigration back on track, which will help reunite front-line heroes with their loved ones.”
Many caregivers who have applied for permanent residence have been trapped in their old caregiving jobs despite having met the in-Canada work experience requirement. That’s been the result of government delays in issuing “acknowledgment of receipt” letters. The department now vows all qualified applicants will get theirs by May 31.
The immigration department says it is also planning to speed up and increase the digitization of caregiver applications so they can be processed remotely by officers, most of whom are currently working from home due to COVID-19 lockdown.
Canada has relied on foreign caregivers to look after our children and elderly. To entice foreign workers to take up the jobs that few Canadians have been willing to do, the Live-in Caregiver Program, which ran from 1992 to 2014, provided what’s called an automatic pathway to permanent residence. It allowed them to pursue permanent status here in exchange for the work they put in and the sacrifices they made.
The scheme has gone through multiple changes since 2014 with new language and education standards as well as an annual cap on the number of caregivers who could take advantage of the program.
Immigration data obtained under an access-to-information request found that the number of caregiver permanent-residence applications in the backlog matched an all-time high.
According to the immigration department, there were permanent residence applications for about 12,000 caregivers and their accompanying family members in the system, including those under the new pilot programs introduced in 2019.
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