2023-05-03T15:19:05-04:00May 3, 2023|

Immigrating to Canada under the Caregiver Program

Canada faces a significant shortage of caregivers and the government is making active efforts to encourage foreign residents with the skills and experience necessary for caregiving jobs to move to Canada permanently. Caregiving is a noble profession and there’s no shortage of available opportunities in child care, senior care, and home support workers in Canada.

The Caregiver program is a pilot immigration program that allows home child care workers and home support workers to qualify for permanent residence (PR) in Canada. If you’re interested in working in Canada as a caregiver, you may be eligible for PR or a work permit to help you fulfill your goal of settling in Canada. In this article, we provide an overview of the process of immigrating to Canada under the Caregiver program, including the various categories, eligibility criteria, and the application process.

In this article:

Who is considered a caregiver in Canada?

A caregiver is an individual who looks after or cares for children, seniors, people with disabilities or people who are ill. Since job responsibilities can vary significantly depending on who you’re caring for, the caregiving occupation comprises two distinct National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes:

  • NOC 44100: Home child care providers: This includes individuals who care for children either in their own home or at an employer’s home, such as a babysitter or nanny.
  • NOC 44101: Home support workers: This includes individuals who provide personal care and companionship for seniors, persons with disabilities and convalescent clients in the employer’s home.

For the purpose of immigrating to Canada, the definition of a caregiver excludes individuals who provide medical or personal care or companionship in an institution, such as at a daycare centre, nursing home, or other institution. 

This means that only caregivers who provide services in their own homes or at their employers’ homes are eligible for permanent residence under the Caregivers program. These positions may also include live-in caregivers or home support workers and child care providers who reside in their employer’s home during their employment period (also commonly called nannies).

In-demand caregiver jobs in Canada

Caregivers are sought after in many provinces and territories in Canada. Depending on your area of specialization, you may be able to find a job as a home child care or home support worker. The below table lists regions where caregiving occupations are in demand and alternate job titles that fall under caregiver National Occupational Classification codes:

In-demand occupation Alternative job titles Provinces/territories where these jobs are in demand
NOC 44100: Home child care providers
  • Nanny
  • Babysitter
  • Child care – live-in caregiver
  • Child care provider
  • Parent’s helper
NOC 44101: Home support workers, caregivers, and related occupations
  • Attendant for persons with disabilities – home care
  • Family caregiver
  • Home support worker
  • Live-in caregiver – seniors
  • Personal aide – home support
  • Personal care attendant – home care
  • Respite worker – home support
  • Doula

Tips Icon  Tip: Read our article on in-demand jobs in Canada for more information on occupations that are in demand in different provinces and territories.

How much do caregivers earn in Canada?

As a caregiver, your wages may vary based on which part of Canada you work in and your years of experience. According to Canada’s Job Bank, home child care workers in Canada earn a median wage of $17 per hour, but your salary may be as high as $23.12 per hour if you’re in a city where the demand is high or if you have a lot of experience. Similarly, the median pay for home support workers is $18 per hour but can go up to $25 per hour.

As a full-time caregiver, you’ll be expected to work for 30 to 40 hours per week, as per your employment contract. It’s important to note that live-in caregivers are not expected to work round-the-clock even though you’ll live in your employer’s home. Your employer must adhere to the terms of your contract and cannot force you to work longer hours or be available at all times.

While evaluating your salary, keep in mind that if you work as a live-in caregiver, you won’t have any accommodation expenses. Depending on the city, rent in Canada can cost between $800 to $1,800 for a one-bedroom apartment. Most Canadians spend between 30 and 50 per cent of their income on accommodation, but as a live-in caregiver, you’ll be able to avoid this considerable expense altogether. Use Arrive’s cost of living calculator to get an estimate of what your living expenses in Canada will be and how much you can potentially save from your income.

How to find caregiver jobs in Canada

Even if you have several years of work experience as a caregiver in your home country, navigating a new job market and landing a job isn’t always easy. Canada’s job market may be very different from what you are used to at home, and you may need to build new skills, get additional certifications, or create a different resume to find suitable employment here. Here are some tips to help you find a job as a caregiver in Canada:

Familiarize yourself with local job market requirements

The demand and supply of caregivers may vary across Canada. Plus, the skills and qualifications Canadian employers look for in caregivers may be different from your home country. It’s a good idea to review Canadian job postings for caregivers to identify skills gaps and suitable job opportunities. Some job descriptions, for instance, may require applicants to have specific certifications or training to work in a particular field of expertise. These can be a good starting point to prepare for the job market.

Gather additional qualifications and in-demand skills

To position yourself as a strong candidate for caregiving jobs in Canada, you may want to invest in additional certifications and skill-building programs. For instance, many home child care, babysitting, and nanny jobs require applicants to have basic first aid and CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training.

Craft a Canadian-style resume

The resume format you used in your home country may not work well in the Canadian job market. The ideal format for your resume will depend on the length and relevance of your work experience. Ideally, you should customize your resume for each job and include keywords from the job description. Be sure to include a cover letter that provides more information about why you want to be a caregiver, your prior experience and achievements, and, where relevant, why you want to work for this particular family or employer.

Explore job search platforms and agencies

Job portals such as Job Bank, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Monster, GrabJobs, and Indeed are great places to look for job opportunities. You may also want to sign up for platforms, such as Care.com and CanadianNannies, or personal support worker agencies that connect home care workers with individual employers.

Build your professional network

Networking gives you access to job opportunities that may not be available publicly and allows you to gather information regarding the job market, skills employers look for in caregivers, and the typical hiring process. Connect with other caregivers working in Canada or employers who may be looking for caregivers on LinkedIn, and nurture meaningful relationships through one-to-one coffee chats.

Getting a Canadian work permit as a caregiver: Temporary residence

Caregivers from all over the world come to Canada to work temporarily. Most foreign residents require a work permit to work in Canada. Canada offers two types of work permits: open work permits allow you to work for any employer in Canada, and employer-specific work permits allow you to work for one particular employer.

To qualify for an employer-specific work permit, you’ll need a job offer from a Canadian employer. However, employers in Canada usually require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from the government before they can hire a foreign worker, and they’ll need to prove that there aren’t enough qualified candidates for the job in Canada.

On the other hand, open work permits are only granted under certain conditions, such as if you’ve applied for permanent residence, you’re an international student who has graduated from a Canadian university or college and are eligible for a Post Graduation Work Permit, you’re the spouse or common-law partner of a study permit or work permit holder, or if you’re a refugee or protected person in Canada.

However, working as a caregiver temporarily not only allows you to experience life and your occupation in Canada but also gives you an opportunity to qualify for permanent residence in Canada once you have some Canadian experience.

Tips Icon  Tip: Read our article on Canadian work permits to learn about the difference between open and employer-specific work permits and the application process for each.

Permanent residence (PR) programs in Canada for caregivers

Keeping in mind the growing demand for caregivers, the Government of Canada also offers foreign caregivers the opportunity to work and settle in Canada permanently. Here’s an overview of the permanent residence (PR) programs caregivers can leverage to immigrate to Canada:

Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot

The Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot were introduced in 2019 as five-year pilot programs. Applications for both pilots will close in June 2024, but there’s a possibility that the government may extend the pilots or formalize these as permanent immigration programs.

Both pilot programs have two eligibility categories: The Gaining Experience category and the Direct to Permanent Residence category. The two pilots are very similar in terms of eligibility criteria and application process, with the only difference being the NOC category of your work experience.

These programs have an annual cap on the number of applications to be accepted under each category. Once the program caps are reached, new applications are no longer accepted that year. However, you can apply once the applications open the following year. For 2023, the caps are as follows:

Home Child Care Provider Pilot

  • Gaining Experience category: 1,650 applications (cap reached, applications closed for 2023)
  • Direct to PR category: 1,100 applications

Home Support Worker Pilot

  • Gaining Experience category: 1,650 applications
  • Direct to PR category: 1,100 applications

Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP)

The Live-in Caregiver Program is closed to new applicants. 

However, individuals who obtained an LCP work permit under this program and have accumulated at least two years of relevant Canadian work experience can still apply for PR under the LCP program. To be eligible for permanent residence, your first LCP work permit must be based on an LMIA that was submitted no later than 2014.

If you meet the qualifying criteria for PR under the Live-in Caregiver Program, you must submit proof of your work experience to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) so they can process your PR application.

Eligibility criteria for Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot

To qualify for permanent residence under Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot programs, you must have been offered a caregiver job in Canada or have two years of Canadian experience as either a Home Child Care Provider (NOC 44100) or Home Support Worker (NOC 44101). Your foreign caregiving experience does not count.

The eligibility criteria for the Gaining Experience category and the Direct to Permanent Residence category differ. Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for the two categories:

Gaining Experience category

You can apply to this category if you have less than two years (0 to 24 months) of Canadian work experience as a caregiver. Your experience must be current or recent.

  • You must have a valid, genuine, full-time job offer in a caregiving occupation (NOC 44100 or NOC 44101).
  • Your qualifying experience should be in either home child care or home support (it cannot be a mix of the two jobs).
  • The employer must be in Canada (except Quebec) and must not be an embassy, high commission, or consulate.
  • You must be able to fulfil all the duties and responsibilities of the job.
  • You must take an approved language test and score at least a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB)/NCLC 5 in all four skills.
  • You must have completed a post-secondary credential of at least one year (or equivalent). If you completed your studies outside Canada, you must get an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) to prove that your credential is valid and equivalent to a Canadian one.
  • You must be admissible to Canada and must clear the necessary criminal and health checks.

When you apply for the Gaining Experience category, you must submit both a work permit and a PR application. Your Caregiver work permit application will be processed first, allowing you to gather the required Canadian experience for permanent residence. Once you’ve obtained two years of Canadian experience as a caregiver, you can contact the IRCC to get your PR application processed.

Direct to PR category

You can qualify for the Direct to Permanent Residence category of the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot if you have at least 24 months of full-time caregiving experience in Canada in the last 36 months. You don’t need a new job offer if you already have the required work experience.

  • Your qualifying experience should be in either home child care or home support (it cannot be a mix of the two jobs).
  • Any work experience you gained while studying full-time will not count.
  • You must be able to fulfil all the duties and responsibilities of the job.
  • You must take an approved language test and score at least a CLB/NCLC 5 in all four skills.
  • You must have completed a post-secondary credential of at least one year (or equivalent) either in Canada or abroad.
  • You must be admissible to Canada and must clear the necessary criminal and health checks.

How to apply for the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot

Depending on the occupation you plan to work in, you must choose between the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot. You cannot apply to both programs. Only work experience in the relevant NOC will count toward your eligibility for PR. So be sure to make your choice carefully, based on your professional interests and skills.

Both pilot programs have a Gaining Experience category and a Direct to PR category. Check the eligibility criteria for both categories and determine which one you’re more likely to qualify for. 

The application process for the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot programs is similar, but depending on which category you pick, the qualifying criteria and documentation can vary significantly. Here’s an overview of the application process for the Gaining Experience category and Direct to PR category for the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot programs:

Applying to the Gaining Experience category of Caregiver pilots

You can apply to the Gaining Experience category of the Home Child Care Provider Pilot or Home Support Worker Pilot programs from inside or outside Canada. The application can be completed online (alternative formats are available for individuals who are differently abled). Here’s a step-by-step guide to the application process:

Get a valid qualifying job offer

Before applying, you must have a full-time job offer as a home child care provider or home support worker from a Canadian employer. Your employer will provide you with a copy of the job offer and the positive LMIA they received from the government.

Complete your work permit and PR application

Create an account on the PR online application portal. You must submit your work permit and permanent residence application together. You need to apply for a work permit under the Caregiver pilot even if you already have a valid Canadian work permit. However, you can keep working on your current work permit until you have 24 months of experience.

Some forms must be filled out online, including the Generic Application form for Canada, background/declaration, additional family information, and supplementary information about your travels. However, other forms, like your offer of employment, application for a work permit, and declarations if you’re coming to Canada with a spouse/partner or with minors, are available as PDF files that must be printed, signed, and uploaded.

Pay the application fee and submit

Pay the application processing fee for yourself and the family members listed on your PR application. Make sure you’re paying all the required fees, including the work permit fee, PR application fee, right of permanent residence fee, and the biometric fee if applicable. Once you’ve made the payment, you can submit the consolidated application.

Get your letter of introduction for a work permit

If your work permit application is approved, you will receive a port of entry letter of introduction that will allow you to come to Canada. You will receive your work permit when you arrive in Canada. If you’re already in Canada, the work permit will be mailed to you directly. 

Get the required work experience

The work permit you receive under the Gaining Experience category of the caregiver pilot programs will be an occupation-restricted open work permit. With this work permit, you can work in that occupation (either NOC 44100 or NOC 44101) for any eligible Canadian employer without an LMIA. You must continue to work in your chosen occupation in Canada until you have enough work experience to qualify for PR.

Submit proof of your work experience to IRCC

Once you’ve gathered 24 months of full-time Canadian experience as a caregiver, you must send proof of your work experience to IRCC, and they will make a decision on your PR application. You must submit this proof within three years of getting your work permit. T4 slips (tax slips), pay stubs, job contracts, or letters of reference from employers can count as proof of your experience.

Applying to the Direct to PR category of Caregiver pilots

If you already have enough qualifying work experience as a caregiver in Canada, you can apply for PR directly. In this case, you don’t need to apply for a work permit again and don’t need to get additional work experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the application process:

Complete your PR application

Create an account on the PR online application portal or sign in to an existing account. Fill out the forms for permanent residence. Some forms have to be filled in online, including the Generic Application form for Canada, background/declaration, additional family information, and supplementary information about your travels. However, other forms, such as declarations for spouse/partner or minors, are available as PDF files and must be printed, signed, and uploaded to your application.

Pay the processing fee and submit the application

Pay the application processing fee for yourself and the family members listed on your PR application. Make sure you’re paying all the required fees, including the PR application fee, right of permanent residence fee, and the biometric fee if applicable. Once you’ve made the payment, you can submit the application.

Apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (optional)

It can take time for your PR application to be processed. However, once the IRCC has validated your Canadian work experience, you’ll receive an approval in principle letter. You can use this letter to apply for a Bridging Open Work Permit (BOWP) that allows you to continue working in Canada until a decision is made on your PR application. 

You don’t need to get a BOWP if you already have a valid Canadian work permit or if you wish to reside outside Canada until your PR application is approved.

Get a decision on your PR application

If you’ve applied for PR from outside Canada, you will receive a Confirmation of PR (CoPR) once your application is approved. You’ll need to submit your passport to get a visa stamped and must enter Canada before your CoPR and visa expire. If you’re already in Canada, the IRCC will contact you to confirm your PR status.

If your PR application is refused, the IRCC will send you a letter explaining why that decision was made.

What is the processing time for PR applications under the Caregiver program?

Typically, it takes the government between 30 and 36 months to process permanent residence applications under the Caregiver program. The timelines may change depending on the application volume and other factors, so check the government website for the estimated processing time.

This doesn’t account for the time it takes to get your work permit and accumulate the required qualifying experience for PR. So, if you’re applying for one of the caregiving pilots through the Gaining Experience category, it can take five years or more to get PR in Canada.

What is the application fee for caregiver immigration programs?

The application fee for PR applications submitted through the Home Child Care Provider Pilot and the Home Support Worker Pilot is $1,085. This includes a $570 processing fee and a $515 Right of Permanent Residence fee. 

If you’re applying through the Gaining Experience category, you’ll also need to pay a $155 work permit fee and an $85 biometric fee.

Caregivers are in high demand in Canada, but as a foreign resident, you can only qualify for permanent residence under a caregiver pilot program if you have at least two years of Canadian work experience. That said, these programs also make it easier for foreign nationals to gain caregiving work experience and qualify for PR later. Alternatively, you can explore temporary residence pathways like work permits to move to Canada as a caregiver and separately apply for PR under other available immigration programs.