The Strategic Recruitment Stream of the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) has recently been shaken up to reflect the province’s changing labour needs. Its popular US H1B Visa Holder category (for which applicants do not need a job offer) has been modified to reflect key occupations that are common among H1B holders. Additionally, two new categories have been created, which focus on foreign engineers and foreign tradespeople with work experience in Alberta.
All three categories of Alberta’s Strategic Recruitment Stream allow candidates to apply directly to the AINP without having to get a job offer from an Alberta employer. It is an important fast-track option for Canadian immigration and a means for Alberta to build up its skilled labour force with workers from abroad.
This stream was originally created for US visa holders, to make it easier for skilled workers from overseas with American work experience to settle permanently in Alberta as immigrants. To qualify, applicants must have worked for at least one year in the US on an H1B visa* in an occupation that is considered “in-demand” in Alberta. The list of qualifying occupations has recently been amended to focus on key occupations that are common among H1B visa holders in the United States. The list includes various types of engineering occupations, IT professions such as database administrators, web designers, and software engineers, along with medical occupations such as physiotherapists and medical lab technicians.
In addition to the H1B occupations list, Alberta has also revised its requirements for H1B status. Previously, Alberta required that an applicant’s H1B status be valid only at the time of application; but it could elapse thereafter. Now, H1B status must be maintained until the AINP makes a final decision on the candidate.
The AINP is currently projecting total processing times of 2 to 6 months.
The Compulsory Trades Category and the Engineering Occupations Category are the newest additions to Alberta’s Strategic Recruitment Stream.
Only for these categories (not the H1B category), applicants must be able to prove that they are currently living in Alberta and that they intend to settle permanently in the province. They also must show that they are currently working or have previously worked in Alberta in their field. For engineers, previous work experience at a reputable Alberta engineering company must have been performed within the last 12 months.
In order to qualify, applicants in the Compulsory Trades Category are required to obtain an invitation from Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training (AIT) and must possess an Alberta Qualification Certificate in a Compulsory Trade.
Applicants in the Engineering Occupations Category must have been educated and trained as an engineer, designer, or drafter and have work experience in an engineering occupation on the AINP Engineering Occupations List. They also need to obtain a “Letter of No Objection” from the Association of Professional Engineers, Geologists, and Geophysicists of Alberta (APEGGA).
The AINP is continually evolving. Applicants who are qualified at the present time are encouraged to submit their applications now, as qualifying criteria may change without notice.
* also includes H1B1, H1C, and E3.