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Live-in caregivers and
open work permit applications


One immigration program that has touched many of the families in Winnipeg is the Live-in Caregiver program. Many in the Filipino community came to Manitoba as caregivers and even more owe their status to someone who originally arrived as a live-in caregiver. This program is near and dear to the hearts of many. However, like other immigration programs, it has changed over time and continues to change as I write this piece. What has changed recently and what is the current status of the domestic live-in caregiver program?

On December 15, 2011 federal immigration announced that live-in caregivers would now be able to obtain open work permits within a shorter period of time. The change affects only those caregivers who are applying for permanent residence.

Effective immediately, live-in caregivers under the program who have submitted an application for permanent residence under the class and have also submitted an application for an open work permit will be issued an open work permit for the duration of up to four years (subject to passport eligibility)” (CIC Operational Bulletin 370 – 15 December 2011).

Until now, such applicants waited for an initial approval on their applications for permanent residence, otherwise known as “approval in principle.”

Applicants for permanent residence, under the Live-in Caregiver class, are expected to complete the required full-time employment within four years from the date they entered the country. The requirement is either: completing 24 months of authorized full-time employment as a live-in caregiver from the entry date or having completed a total of 3,900 hours, within a period of time not less than 22 months from the entry date. Prior to the above change, the live-in caregivers were eligible to receive open work permits only after they were judged to be members of the specific immigration class and approved in principle. This delay, which took roughly 18 months, has now been removed.

The reasons for the change are dramatic in themselves. The early issuance of an open work permit provides applicants with other work opportunities and living arrangements. They are no longer required to continue as live-in workers. A lot of us know about abuses under the program and so to does federal immigration. The immigration Minister Jason Kenny, in fact, thanked the Toronto Caregiver Resource Centre for bringing the situation and the abuse of such workers to his attention. He said the move was positive in terms of providing caregivers with an application process that will ease their transition into Canadian society.

“The change I have announced today will help caregivers settle into their new life in Canada while they wait for their permanent resident application to be processed,” said Kenny.

It is not often that I rise in praise of the federal Minister but I applaud the change in processing. We can question the government’s commitment to the Live-in Caregiver Program, which has been cut in recent years, but find no fault in the quick provision of open work permits to caregivers. Yes, it is true that the number of caregiver approvals has decreased dramatically over the years (the subject perhaps of another article) but it is good to see that he has responded to the voices of those who know firsthand the abuses and challenges faced by caregivers.

Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail:

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