What Live-in Caregivers Do
Live-in Caregivers look after children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. This care must be given in a private home and the caregiver must live with the people they care for. Work in a nursery school, nursing home, or other public or privately-run care giving institution doesn't qualify under the Live-in Caregiver Program.
Canadians in general are usually not willing to live and work in someone else's home whether it is for the purpose of being available to care for their children and home while the parents are off at work or to care for a senior who needs someone around 24 hours a day to ensure safety. To address this problem, the federal government has introduced a program to enable private households to hire care givers from abroad. This program is called the 'Live-in Caregiver Program' and it allows suitably qualified people from other countries to enter Canada and work in private homes as Live-in Caregivers.
A major benefit of the 'Live-in Caregiver Program' for many foreign applicants is that it provides a way of immigrating to Canada. After a minimum of 22 months of full-time work as a Live-in Caregiver in Canada, the foreign worker may apply for 'Permanent Residence' (also known as landed immigrant status), which confers most of the benefits of Canadian citizenship. Canadian citizenship can be obtained after a few years as a Permanent Resident.
Although the concept of immigrating to Canada via the Live-in Caregiver Program is quite straightforward, the immigration process required to become a Permanent Resident can be complicated. Here is an outline of the entire immigration process for gaining permanent residence via the Live-in Caregiver Program.
To take advantage of the Canadian Live-in Caregiver Program, applicants must have:
- the equivalent of a Canadian high school education. This requirement is intended to increase the likelihood that participants, who later become permanent residents, will be able to find employment.
- (a) successfully completed a minimum of 6 months of full-time training in a classroom setting in a training program related to the care giving work which they will be doing,
(b) 12 months of recent, paid caregiving work experience. For example, this work experience may have been gained as an au-pair, by giving geriatric care, or in pediatric nursing. In order to meet this criteria for work experience, you must have completed at least one year of full-time, paid employment, including at least six months of continuous employment with one employer, in a field or occupation related to the job that you will be doing. This experience must have been obtained within the three years immediately prior to the day on which you submit your application for a work permit to a visa officer.
- the ability to speak, read, and understand either English or French at a level that permits you to function independently in a home setting. For example, you must be able to contact emergency services if required and to understand labels on medication. You will be unsupervised for most of the day and may be put in a position of having to communicate with someone outside the home. A good knowledge of English or French will also enable you to read and understand for yourself what your rights and obligations are.
- You must be in good health (you will have to pass a medical examination) and have no criminal record in the countries in which you have lived.
Live-in caregivers are typically female (over 95%). We have found that almost all Canadian employers of Live-in Caregivers prefer to hire female caregivers. Salaries are generally at, or slightly above, the minimum wage levels, which differ by province typically between $10.20 and $10.60 per hour (2014).
The number of caregivers working and immigrating to Canada through the Live-in Caregiver Program has declined throughout the past 4 years. In 2009 there was a high of 39,551 foreign workers in Canada with Live-in Caregiver work permits while in 2012, there were only slightly over half as many (19,830). In 2009 the number of foreign Live-in Caregivers who became Permanent Residents of Canada was 6,273 compared to only 3,690 in 2012. This is likely due mainly to the much stricter controls that were put in place by Immigration Canada in an attempt to eliminate the abuse of the program by both foreign workers and Canadian employers.