Personal Support Workers

Immigration pathways for caregivers


aregivers are among the few occupations where opportunity has increased during and after the otherwise challenging and tragic COVID-19 period. Many individuals in this vital field are either foreign nationals currently working in Canada, or hoping to come to Canada to help meet the strong demand for skilled and experienced people to work in the sector. Read the following scenarios if they apply to you. Remember, just as this door to entry in Canada is now open wider than it was before, it can also close on short notice, or no notice. If you aspire to come to Canada, now is the time to seek good advice and take action.

International students

If you are an international student, and you have completed your studies at a recognized, designated learning institution, you must apply for, and be granted, a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to work full-time in Canada. If you had been working the minimum 20 hours allowed per week while you were still a full-time student, then at the end of your final semester, you can start to work full time, providing your study permit is still in force. If you apply for your PGWP while your study permit is still valid, then you can continue to work seamlessly, beyond the limit of your study permit. Your PGWP will provide you with a start and an expiration date.

  • Full-time is regarded as 30 hours and more per week;
  • From the time school ends for you, you can start looking for a PSW or caregiver job which is classified under the National Occupation Classification 2021(NOC) matrix as a TEER level ‘4’ NOC code 44101;
  • The earlier you find such a job, the better for you if your objective is to eventually apply for permanent residence and make Canada your home;
  • Your route to permanent residence as a caregiver or personal support worker is no longer through the Express Entry management system, which uses an algorithm for awarding points to the candidate, based on a series of human capital factors, including their Canadian education and Canadian work experience. If, however, you are under the age of 30, have additional postsecondary diplomas and degrees, along with foreign work experience, then you may still use this pathway to permanent residence, since the higher your post secondary level of studies, and the more years of experience in your field, the greater your points.
  • Your route to permanent residence is through the “direct to permanent residence” category of the In-Home Caregiver Pilot Program.  The minimum experience you must have completed under your NOC code 44101 is 1,560 hours within 12 months. You may also have 1,560 hours over a period of 24 months, working part-time 15 hours per week. You can work at one or more workplace, providing it is the same type of work as described under your specific occupation code.

Because PSW and caregiver programs are about a year (two semesters) long, most international students will qualify for only a one-year open work permit. It means that unless students strategically place themselves into the work force, they will not have sufficient time to gain the requisite work experience to be eligible to apply for permanent residence through the “direct to permanent residence” category of the In-Home Caregiver Pilot Program.

In-Home Caregiver Pilot Program

As of January 02, 2024, the Home Child Care Provider Pilot program has been reached. Its annual cap of 2,700 for both gaining experience category (1,650) and direct to permanent residence category (1,100) was filled.  In the previous year, this cap also attained within the first quarter of 2022.

The Home Support Worker Pilot Program did not reach its cap in 2022, but did so in November 2023.  The cap for this year is exactly the same as for the Child Care Provider Pilot: 1,650 for the “gaining experience ” category and 1,100 for the “direct to permanent residence” category.  This pilot program comes to an end on June 17, 2024.

The Home Support Worker falls under NOC 44101, which is TEER 4 under Statistics Canada’s  National Occupation Classification Version 2021. Click or tap for the training, education, experience and responsibilities required.

You are in Canada as a temporary resident

Someone who has  obtained 12 months at a minimum of 30 hours per week, may be eligible to apply for permanent residence through the “direct to permanent resident category” of the Home Child Care Provider Pilot program.  There are conditions to meet with respect to English language competency and post secondary education. There is also an annual quota for this initiative.

For temporary residents in Canada (visitors) who want to remain in Canada and apply to work as caregivers and home support workers, through an LMIA-based work permit, be advised that it is no longer possible to do so.  The only path to obtaining a work permit for such individuals is through the In Home Caregiver Pilot program, which is described further on in this post.

You are living outside Canada

Under this pilot program, foreign nationals who are not in Canada, and are trained and experienced PSWs, caregivers or nurses working anywhere in the world, can access this pilot program if they are offered a job by a Canadian employer.

The key factor here is to identify an employer who in turn formally “offers” a job to the foreign national. There must be perfect understanding between the employer and the identified foreign national for this arrangement to succeed. There are strict rules to follow in the pilot process. Compliance with all federal and provincial legislation regarding employment of PSWs and caregivers is required. For this reason, individuals wanting to come to Canada through this program need to seek professional assistance to prepare the multitude of application forms and documents required for a submission.

We need to work with you to prepare both a work permit and an application for permanent residence at the same time. The two applications are .submitted on line through different portals/

  • Once the assessment deems the applicant admissible to Canada, then the work permit is processed;
  • All government processing fees for both applications are paid at the time of submission. For example, if a principal applicant has a spouse and two children, work permit application fees for two adults ($255 x 2) plus permanent resident fees for a family of two adults and two children ($1,085 x 2, plus 155 x 2 ) plus biometric registration fees for two adults ($85 x 2) must be paid at the time of submission. Total government fees in this example case would be $3,160.

The Caregiver Pilot program has been designed to lessen hardship on the employer who no longer has to worry about obtaining an LMIA and paying a processing fee. From the perspective of the foreign national, this is a smoother pathway to permanent residency, since the work permit is processed only after a successful assessment of the permanent residence application has been completed, and the applicant has been deemed admissible to Canada. This very application will be revisited 12 months later when the foreign national submits evidence of having completed the requisite work hours to be qualified to receive permanent residence status in Canada.

The In-Home Caregiver pilot program is the only pathway through which new in home caregivers can enter Canada with  a work permit.  For individuals holding a valid study or work permit, an LMIA-based job offer in the home caregiver sector is required in order to apply for a temporary work permit to work as an in home caregiver.