IRCC introduces two new immigration pilots for rural and French-minority communities

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: March 7, 2024

In a press conference earlier today, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced two separate new immigration pilots – one for rural communities and another for francophone minority communities across Canada – while adding that the existing Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) will transition into a permanent program.

In a press conference today, Immigration Minister Marc Miller, emphasized the value of rural and francophone minority communities across Canada. He noted that "regional immigration plays a key role in strengthening their economies, [especially with respect to] connecting businesses and employers in remote communities with the skilled newcomers they need to thrive."

Accordingly, IRCC explains the decision to introduce these new pilot programs will "help attract and retain skilled foreign workers in rural and Francophone minority communities, contributing to their economic and linguistic vitality."

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Both of IRCC's new immigration pilot programs are currently on pace to launch in Fall 2024.

IRCC has also already indicated that the "community application process" for both pilot programs will open "this spring", and will allow "select communities" to participate. While IRCC has already said that it will share more details about both programs "in the coming months", existing information about these new pilot programs can be found below. Click here to read IRCC's full press release from today's announcement.

Rural Community Immigration Pilot

This pilot program is being implemented, according to IRCC, as a way "to ensure that rural communities continue [being able] ... to access programs that address labour shortages and help local businesses find the workers they need." Thus far, Canada's immigration department has not provided details about the pilot other than noting that it will, similar to the existing RNIP, enable eligible newcomers to pursue permanent residence in Canada.

Much like the RNIP, IRCC says that this pilot is intended for "newcomers who can help [rural communities] overcome critical labour job shortages and want to live long term in these smaller communities."

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

IRCC's new pilot program, the Rural Community Immigration Pilot, will effectively serve as a direct replacement for the RNIP because pilot programs can only last a maximum of five years.

Since its introduction, the RNIP has allowed 11 different communities in five provinces – Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia – to bring in newcomers who want to settle in these communities and are able to help these regions address their pressing labour and demographic concerns.

To immigrate to Canada through the RNIP, candidates must meet a variety of personal and work experience-related eligibility criteria while also receiving a community recommendation from a "designated community economic development organization."

Among the eligibility requirements for the RNIP, candidates must meet either of the following sets of federal criteria:

  • Having a recommendation from one of the designated communities
  • Having one year of eligible continuous work experience in the past three years (a minimum of 1,560 hours)

or

  • Having graduated from a publicly funded post-secondary institution in the recommending community
  • Possessing a genuine job offer to work in one of the designated communities
  • Meeting the language threshold required for the NOC skill type/level of the job being offered
  • Having sufficient funds to settle and support themselves and their family in the community
  • Intending to live in the community

More: Eligibility for the RNIP also requires candidates to meet criteria related to their educational background, having a job offer, the ability to speak English or French and more. Full details about the RNIP are available here.

Francophone Community Immigration Pilot

IRCC's new francophone immigration pilot is aimed at helping the federal government add to the "number of French-speaking newcomers settling in ... communities outside of Quebec", aiding in the "economic development of Francophone minority communities ... [and helping] restore and increase their demographic weight."

The department's new Francophone pilot program is its most recent example of Canada's emphasis on French-language immigration across the country. Among its other initiatives, this commitment is evident in the focus on skilled workers with strong French-language proficiency immigrating to Canada through category-based Express Entry draws.

Since the start of 2024, IRCC has conducted two draws for eligible French-language candidates, issuing a total of 9,500 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) in these draws. For context, IRCC's other two category-based draws have seen the department issue a total of only 3,650 ITAs.

Click here for more information on IRCC's category-based draws and visit this link to view all of Canada's Express Entry draw results.

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