The popular Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is being extended to the end of 2021, following a so-far successful three-year run that has led to more than 2,500 principal applicants and their accompanying family members welcomed as new Canadian permanent residents.
And in further good news for potential applicants and local employers and communities alike, some of the eligibility requirements have been loosened up, potentially bringing the option to move to Atlantic Canada a step closer for more individuals and families. Notably, in the spring of 2019 Canadian immigration authorities announced that more spouses and partners of applicants would be able to work in Canada as the family unit settles into life here.
Now easier for spouse/partner to get an open work permit
Officers may issue an open work permit, under LMIA exemption code C41, to the spouse or common-law partner of an Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program participant if that participant is employed in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A, B or C position. The open work permit should have a validity that matches the principal applicant’s work permit, up to a maximum of one year or until the expiry of the spouse or common-law partner’s passport or travel document, whichever is earlier. The spouse or common-law partner’s work permit may be issued at a port of entry (POE).
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program updates timeline
- June, 2019: As of June 1, 2019, spouses and common-law partners of Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) participants in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) C skill level position may apply for an open work permit under Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption code C41. This is an expansion of the previous eligibility criteria, under which only spouses of AIP participants in a NOC 0, A or B skill level position were eligible for an open work permit.
- May, 2019: More spouses and partners of principal applicants will be able to work sooner under the AIPP. Those with intermediate skill level, such as food and beverage servers or long-haul truck drivers, have an opportunity to apply for an open work permit. Previously, only the spouses and partners of those in high-skilled positions, such as managers, medical doctors or architects, were able to apply for such a work permit.
- March, 2019: Many changes, including program extension to 2021 and looser eligibility requirements outlined below under About the AIPP.
- July, 2018: Increased allocation from 2,000 spots to 2,500.
- March, 2017: First applications received.
- January, 2017: Program details announced.
The employer-driven Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program was first launched in 2017 as an initiative between the federal government and the Atlantic provinces, namely Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The pilot project is in its third year and is helping to bring skilled, educated and experienced newcomers to replenish the labour pool in a region that previously struggled to retain locals and attract newcomers.
Applicants with a job offer from an approved employer are in a position to move to one of these provinces, as long as they fulfill other criteria. Applicants also require provincial endorsement before submitting an application to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Applicants who receive a job offer from a designated employer and a referral letter, issued by one of the Atlantic provinces, may be eligible to apply for a one-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt employer-specific work permit. The work permit portion of the AIPP now includes assessment of language proficiency, work experience, and education credentials, which you can learn more about here.
Since launch, 1,896 employers in Atlantic Canada have made 3,729 job offers through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program. So far, a total of 4,769 applicants and their families have applied for permanent residence status and IRCC has already approved 2,535.
Everyone in Ottawa and out East agrees that the program has, so far, been a roaring success. As immigrants and Canadians alike gravitate towards big cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, the federal government and its provincial counterparts in Atlantic Canada have been doing their part to bring more newcomers to smaller communities.
And there is no reason to believe that success will end any time soon. In fact, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program served as a blueprint for the new Rural and Northern Immigration pilot, announced earlier this year.
“The government of prime minister Justin Trudeau is working very closely with all the provinces, including the province of new Brunswick ,to work together to deliver on what the employers have been asking us to do, which is to address the labor market shortage and skills shortages through immigration,” said Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Ahmed Hussen.
“There are literally thousands of unfilled jobs without the skills and the labour to fill those jobs. What is evident is that we need immigrants to come and help us build the economy that we want here in this province,” said MP Matt DeCourcey, who represents Fredericton, NB.