Dear Miss Powell,
I really love reading your weekly column. I recently got my permanent residence papers to go to Canada. I have had a helper for 15 years and she is like family to me and I would like her to go with us. Can you please advise how I can get her to go with us to Canada?
You have two main ways of getting your helper to go with you. Either as a visitor or as a 'live-in caregiver/ helper'.
To go as a visitor, she would need to apply for a temporary resident visa which would allow her to visit for a short period of time (a maximum of six months). She will need to convince the embassy that she is not a flight risk, establish that she has sufficient ties in Jamaica, and that she has sufficient resources to cover the expense of the trip.
You may also seek to sponsor your helper under the 'live-in-caregiver' programme in Canada. This is a popular option. There are certain requirements that you will both have to satisfy.
Your caregiver/helper will need to be able to communicate effectively in English and prove that she has had a minimum of 12 years' full-time education. If your helper did not finish high school, she may satisfy the requirement by doing additional training through the HEART programme and other certified courses. Check to ensure that the courses or programmes are certified before registering.
Since she has a minimum of 15 years' work experience, then she should be able to satisfy the basic work experience requirements. The other important issue is that she must not have a criminal record, must be healthy and able to pass the medical checks.
As the prospective employer, you will need to also prove to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) that you have a need for this helper and also that you are able to financially support her. This means you will need to first land in Canada, establish yourself and then seek to sponsor your helper under this programme.
When you are settled, you will need to do a labour market opinion through Human Resources and Skills Development. Once you have satisfied the requirements, you will need to have an employment contract prepared between yourself and your helper. If you qualify and your helper satisfies the criminal and medical checks, then CIC will then give your helper the required documents to obtain a work permit.
This permit has an expiry date and you should pay attention to this to ensure that your helper does not overstay, but rather renews the permit or later, if she qualifies, apply for permanent resident status.
I would recommend that you consult with an immigration lawyer to ensure that the correct steps, forms, fees and documents are submitted. This could avoid additional costs, delays and possible rejection, for not following the correct procedures and timelines.
Deidre S. Powell is a lawyer, mediator and notary public who is a member of the Jamaican and Ontario, Canada bars, with main office located in Ottawa, Ontario. Her areas of practice are in Immigration, Personal Injury, Real Estate, Family and Administration of Estates. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Subject line: Immigration.