Canada Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced on Thursday a plan to fast-track the permanent residence applications of caregivers during the pandemic.
“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,” said Mendicino.
“With today’s announcement, we’re getting caregiver immigration back on track which will help reunite front-line heroes with their loved ones.”
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Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) processing times have bogged down during the pandemic and this plan is intended to speed up the processing of caregiver applications.
Under this new policy which takes effect May 3, the permanent residence applications of up to 6,000 caregivers who have finished their in-Canada work experience – and their immediate family members – are being tagged as high-priorities to be processed by the end of this year.
Canada’s Immigration Minister Wants To Make Entire System Digital
The IRCC is also pledging to make at least 1,500 first-stage decisions on applications for the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots by June 30, a move expected to allow more caregiver work permits to be processed this year for those with job offers in Canada. Those who applied to the pilots last year do not need to re-apply.
Those pilots have launched two years ago. They allow caregivers with temporary status to transition to permanent status and are occupation-specific, rather than employer-specific, work permits. The pilots also allow caregivers and their families to move to Canada as they gain work experience.
The Canadian immigration minister is a big proponent of digitizing and speeding up the country’s immigration processes. In a TV interview in January, Mendicino pledged to make Canadian immigration processes fully digital.
“My vision for our immigration system going forward is that it is completely virtual and touchless and that each and every one of these steps is integrated so that we become the envy of the world,” he said in an online interview with TVO.
Canada is already a world leader in putting its immigration processes online, he said.
“In a world that is increasingly going virtual, we are leading the way, especially when it comes to our immigration system,” he said in that interview. “We are the only ones that have moved our citizenship ceremony online, to my knowledge, and now we are also moving into the digital space when it comes to testing applicants.”
The plan to speed up caregiver applications is a reflection of that vision. It specifically calls for the immigration department to increase the digitization of caregiver applications and ensure every applicant gets an acknowledgement of receipt letters by the end of May.
Caregiver Programs Still Have Plenty Of Room For New Applicants This Year
There were applications for about 12,000 caregivers and their accompanying family members to be processed by the federal government as of March 3 this year. That includes both applications to the pilots and to other, previous caregiver programs.
Despite that large number of applications to be processed, there is still a lot of room for new applicants.
As of Apr. 8, the Home Child Care Provider Pilot was still 14 per cent below capacity for this year and could still receive another 385 applications. The Home Support Worker Pilot was then at 81 per cent below capacity and still open to another 2,200 applicants.
Last year, almost 2,900 caregivers and their family members became new Canadian permanent residents.