Becoming a permanent resident is what every foreign live-in caregiver strives for. Foreign live-in caregivers need to secure their future and status in Canada by making sure they meet the 24 months of full-time employment as live-in caregiver within 36 months from arrival date. For clarification, the foreign live-in caregiver program (LCP) is still the same. There’s a rumor that newly arrived foreign live in caregivers can no longer apply for permanent resident status, that information is false.
In paper, meeting the 24 month requirement within 36 months from arrival in Canada looks simple and easy but in reality, it is not. The ideal situation is for a caregiver to stay with her sponsoring employer until she obtains her permanent resident status. However, in most cases, caregivers change employers over the period of three years and this is how things get complicated. If a caregiver had more than three employers within three years, there is a higher chance that she would not meet the 24 months of being employed. Having changed employer three times, she had lost months in between employers. Every time a caregiver left an employer she lost 3 to 6 months looking for a new employer and waiting for her new work permit.
In 2008, about 9,000 foreign live in caregivers arrived in Canada and Service Canada issued 30,000 Labour Market Opinion (LMO) for live in caregivers. These caregivers had invested time, money, effort, to come to Canada, they have sacrificed time spent being away from their own families and then when the time came for them to apply for their permanent resident status, some of them were refused because they failed to prove that they worked full-time for 24 months as live in caregivers. The two main reasons for failure to show proof of 24 months of employment are 1) their employers’ refusal or failure to provide supporting documents and 2)the long wait for obtaining a new work permit every time a caregiver changed employers.
Here are some helpful tips so caregivers can secure their status.
(A) Gain knowledge. From day one, a caregiver should gather as much information about the caregiver program. Refer to these government sites : www.hrsdc.gc.ca (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) to learn about the rights and responsibilities of caregiver, the obligations and responsibilities of an employer ; www.jobbank.gc.ca ( Job bank )where employers need to post caregiver job for two weeks) ; www.cic.gc.ca ( Citizenhip and Immigration Canada) to find where to submit extension or renewal of work permit; www.cra.gc.ca (Canada Revenue Agency) to calculate the proper deductions for Canada Pension Plan. Employment Insurance and Income Tax.
(B) Communication. From day one, the employer and caregiver should have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, duties and obligations. The employer should understand that providing documents such as statement or earnings or pay stubs to show salaries are being paid, T4s or Statement of Renumeration Paid and upon termination, a Record Of employment and /or Confirmation of Employment letter , is of utmost importance especially for foreign live in caregivers. Explain to the employer that these documents are what you need to become a permanent resident. In the event that the employer does not provide T4 by February 29 of the following year, you must still file your tax return with a letter of explanation . It is a good idea to seek assistance from an accountant.
If there are concerns or issues, you should first try to discuss it with your employer. Don’t quit right away. If the employer does not know that you have concerns, he/she won’t be able to help you. If you cannot get enough courage to speak up, you may write a letter explaining to the employer your concerns and keep a copy of the letter.
(C) Cheques basis only. Caregivers should request employers to pay them by cheques, not by cash. Caregivers need to deposit the cheques before cash can be taken out. A regular deposit of cheques with the same amount in regular intervals is proof that the caregiver receives salaries from her employer. In the event that the employer denied that you worked for her, the cheques paid to you on regular interval ,deposited to your account can prove who is telling the truth.
(D) Seek professional advice. If in doubt because you are getting conflicting advice from people, call a professional – an accountant if its regarding your pay stubs and T4’s, or an immigration lawyer or certified immigration consultant to get advice about immigration.
(E) Maintain good relationship with all of your employers. Even if you feel that your employer isn’t very nice to you or you have some issues with him/her, try to get along with your employer. Even if you end up leaving an employer, if you have a good relationship, you can at least go back and get supporting documents from him/her if you need to.
(F) Be proactive. Always think of your best interest which is completing your 24 months as soon as possible. Choose employer who treats you right, pays you right, understands, supports and wants to help you secure your permanent resident status by providing you supporting documents. Make a decision to succeed and do the best you can to maintain your caregiver program.
(G) If you are unhappy with your current employer and thinking about leaving your employer, do not leave until you have found a new one. The right time to leave your employer is after you obtain a new work permit with the next employer.
(H) If you have filed an application for Permanent Resident status and your application was refused, try not to panic, there are options for you to stay legally in Canada. Talk to a professional immigration counsel.
(I) If you have lost your status because either you did not file an extension of renewal before the expiry date of your last work permit or you haven’t found a new employer, you have 90 days from the expiry date to restore your status and you need to act fast.
(J) Record keeping. Organize and keep all of your important documents. Make copies of applications filed. When mailing applications or correspondence to CIC, always mail via Xpresspost or Registered Mail or Courier, so you have a receipt of mailing. Make sure your passport still has one to two years validity before you extend or renew your work permit. The Citizenship and Immigration Canada will issue visa within the validity date of your passport.
(K) Employment dates. When enumerating your employment history, the start date for each employer should be within the validity of your work permit. For example, if the work permit is valid from June 1, 2009 to May 31, 2011, the start date of employment for that employer should be June 1,2009 or later but not earlier.
Stay focused on your goal of obtaining permanent residence. Make the LCP work for you. Don’t be too choosy when looking for an employer, if there’s a problem or concern, do not quit right away, talk to your employer, make sure your employer provides you with supporting documents – pay stubs, T4’s, confirmation of Employment, accept only cheques.
Some slight changes: Requirement – 24 months or 3,900 hours,within 48 months from date of arrival in Canada. If a caregiver works overtime on a regular basis, she should count her hours because she can apply for PR using hours worked even if she does not have 24 months yet.
Mila Echevarria, Certified Immigration Consultant
Member of Canadian Society Immigration Consultants
Email address: email@example.com
Disclaimer: The immigration article posted above does not substitute as a legal advice on immigration issues. If you need to consult a qualified professional about your case, you can visit a qualified immigration professional in your city or country. Use due diligence in doing so.