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. Since its launch, the program has been extended to at least 2021.
The pilot project helps 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.
Figures released in mid-2019 showed that in the first three years of the AIPP, 1,896 employers in Atlantic Canada had made 3,729 job offers through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program. By mid-2019, a total of 4,769 applicants and their families had applied for permanent residence status and IRCC had 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 Rural and Northern Immigration pilot which launched in 2019.
“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 in 2019.
Important updates to the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program
As a pilot program, the AIPP has integrated feedback and updated policies throughout its lifespan. The biggest changes were introduced in 2019, after the program approached its three-year anniversary. At this time, the government made the decision to extend the pilot until at least 2021.
However, many other important updates have taken place throughout the history of the pilot initiative:
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.