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Canada unveils new immigration pilot for rural and northern communities

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The Government of Canada has unveiled a new five-year economic immigration pilot that will help rural and northern communities in Ontario, Western Canada and Canada’s three territories attract and retain skilled foreign workers.

The community-driven Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot builds on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program launched in 2017 and will facilitate permanent residence for foreign workers of various skill levels in eligible communities in the following provinces and territories:

  • Ontario
  • Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Yukon
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) says eligible communities can be either a city with a population of 50,000 or less located at least 75 kilometres from the core of a metropolitan area of 100,000 or more, or a city of up to 200,000 people that qualifies as remote.

Like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIPP), the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will operate alongside Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program.

The employer-driven AIPP works with businesses in the Atlantic Canada provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador to hire foreign workers for positions they haven’t been able to fill locally.

In 2018, the AIPP allowed the four participating provinces to endorse up 2,500 foreign workers and international students for permanent residence. IRCC did not specify a quota for the new pilot.

“By creating an immigration pilot aimed at rural and northern communities, we’re looking to ensure that the benefits of immigration are shared across the country,” Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, said at the launch of the new pilot on January 24.

Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Rural Economic Development Canada, said the pilot’s community-driven approach is essential.

“The Pilot will support the economic development of smaller communities by testing new, community-driven approaches to address their diverse labour market needs.”

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

Communities have until March 1 to apply

IRCC is currently seeking applications from eligible communities in the identified provinces and territories that would like to participate in the pilot.

IRCC says interested communities must work with a local economic development organization to submit an application that shows they meet the pilot’s eligibility criteria and how immigration will promote local economic development priorities.

Among other criteria, communities selected to participate in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will have to demonstrate that they have job opportunities available and will be actively involved in matching immigration candidates to jobs.

IRCC says the local community and economic development organization will be responsible for recruiting and assessing immigration candidates based on local economic needs and job openings, and recommending selected candidates for permanent residence.

Complete applications are due March 1, 2019, and the communities selected to participate in the pilot will be unveiled in the spring. 

Information on the immigration process for foreign workers through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will be announced later in 2019.

More information on the application process can be found on IRCC’s website.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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