Long Wait Times Pose Many Issues, Say Immigration Lawyers in Canada
Canada immigration lawyers are seeing a sharp increase in the time that it takes for foreign caregivers living in Canada to receive permanent residency—despite the backlog being smaller now than it was a year ago. According to immigration officials, this year the processing time has reached a record high of 50 months, compared to 26 months (nearly half) just a year before that. By contrast, the backlog in 2015 consists of 17,600 who had met work requirements under Canada’s caregiver programs, whereas last year that backlog was 24,600 strong.
Last November, the government introduced two brand new caregiver immigration “pathways” to supplement the existing Live-in Caregiver Program alleviate the high processing times: the Caring for Children Pathway, and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway. These were intended to improve the flow of applications being processed and caregivers being granted permanent residency, but immigration lawyers in Canada have noted that the situation has been worsened in the meantime.
Eligibility for caregivers, both for children and for those with high medical needs, is based on work experience, language ability, and education. Work experience requirements include at least 24 months of full-time work during the four years before applying, though any work done by caregivers of children while studying as a full-time student will not be counted. Language ability is proven by taking a test in English or French at a CIC-approved agency. For caregivers of people with medical needs, additional education and training qualifications may apply depending on the specific National Occupational Classification job description. Once a caregiver has met these requirements, they can apply for permanent residency with or without the assistance of a Canada immigration lawyer—and it is at this point in the process that bottlenecks are being experienced.
However, a spokesperson for Canada’s Immigration Minister was very optimistic in his appraisal of the situation. In an article by the Toronto Star, he is quoted as saying, “We have taken aggressive action to reduce backlogs by planning 30,000 caregiver admissions this year alone… and we will completely eliminate it by the end of 2016.”
However, while waiting for these results to be seen, immigration lawyers in Canada are seeing a more human cost to the delays. Many caregivers who have met the permanent residency requirements but have yet to be approved are also waiting to be reunited with family members. Even once they attain permanent residency, sponsoring children, spouses, and other family members can be a long and difficult process, wrought with its own exceptionally long waiting times. In the meantime, family members overseas waiting to be sponsored often face dangerous conditions, and some families do not remain intact while waiting to be reunited. According to many immigration lawyers in Canada, express family reunification is necessary—and will add more value to a cleared backlog of caregivers becoming permanent residents.