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Canada's new Agri-Food Immigration Pilot is currently accepting applications.

Update: Canada announced it will be extending the Agri-Food Pilot to May 14, 2025.

The agri-food pilot aims to fill labour shortages, particularly in meat processing and mushroom production, within the agri-food sector and help meet Canada’s ambitious export targets. The agriculture and agri-food industry is an important contributor to Canada’s economic growth and vitality, supporting around one-in-eight jobs in Canada.

The aim is to help the agri-food sector bring in full-time, non-seasonal foreign workers needed to fill growing labour gaps. This new pilot aims to attract and retain workers by providing them with an opportunity to become permanent residents following an initial two-year stint on a temporary work permit, instead of having to renew their work permits repeatedly.

A maximum of 2,750 principal applicants, plus family members, will be accepted for processing in any given year.

Foreign Workers: Who is eligible for Canada’s Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?

To be eligible for Canada’s Agri-Food Immigration Pilot, foreign workers must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. have qualifying work experience
  2. have a qualifying job offer
  3. meet or exceed the minimum language requirements
  4. meet or exceed the educational requirements
  5. prove you have enough money to settle in the community
  6. have maintainted valid temporary residence status

Note: As of February 12, 2024, applicants who reside in Canada at the time of application need to meet either the job offer requirements or the educational requirements. Only applicants residing outside of Canada at the time of their application need to met both requirements.

#1 – Qualifying  Work Experience

You must have at least one year Canadian work experience (at least 1,560 hours in the past three years). This Canadian work experience must be:

  • Non-seasonal;
  • In an eligible occupation within an eligible industry; and
  • Through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (it must have been supported by an LMIA with a minimum 12-month duration), or
  • Through an Open Work Permit for applicants considered vulnerable workers.

On May 8, 2023, Canada announced that it would accept work experience gained under an open work permit for vulnerable workers, giving more workers the opportunity to apply.

Eligible industries

Eligible occupations

#2 – Qualifying Job Offer

You must have a genuine job offer from a Canadian employer. This job offer must:

  • Be in an eligible occupation in an eligible industry (see above);
  • Be full-time, non-seasonal, and permanent;
  • For unionized positions, the wage must be determined by the applicable collective agreement;
  • For non-unionized positions, the wage must meet or exceed the Job Bank’s prevailing wage for your job offer’s occupation in the province of employment (or at the national level if no provincial rate is available); and
  • Be in Canada but outside the province of Quebec.

#3 – Minimum language requirements

You must score a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of Level 4 on an approved language test in either English or French.

#4 – Minimum education requirements

Minimum completed level of education equivalent to a Canadian high school diploma (or higher). Education completed outside Canada must be supported by a valid Educational Credentials Assessment (ECA).

#5 – Settlement funds requirement

You must prove that you have enough money to support yourself and your family members upon settlement in Canada. Those already working in Canada with a valid work permit are not required to provide proof of funds. If you are not already working in Canada, the settlement funds requirement is as follows:

Number of family membersRequired funds (in CAD)
1 (single applicant)$13,757
For each additional family member, add$3,706

Foreign Workers: How to apply for Canada’s Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?

If you meet the program requirements listed above, then you can submit your application for permanent resident status directly to IRCC.

In order to apply, you will have compile a detailed application using the application guide and forms available on the official Agri-Food Immigration Pilot webpage. You will have to provide documentary evidence that you meet all program requirements.

Once you have completed your application, you will be required to submit the application in hard copy by mail to the address listed on the above-mentioned webpage.

Employers: How does the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot work?

Employers in the agri-food sector who participate in the pilot are eligible for a two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment.

To complement the pilot, Employment and Social Development Canada is introducing changes that will benefit meat processor employers who are supporting temporary foreign workers in transitioning to permanent residence:

  • A two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment will be issued to eligible meat processor employers, including employers who are using the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot or other existing pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers in the same occupations and industries that are eligible for the pilot.
  • To be eligible, meat processors will be required to outline their plans to support their temporary foreign worker in obtaining permanent residency. Furthermore, unionized meat processors will require a letter of support from their union.
  • Non-unionized meat processors will have to meet additional requirements to ensure the labour market and migrant workers are protected. A tri-partite working group will be formed immediately to develop these requirements.
  • Adjustments will also be made to the way the limit (“cap”) on low-wage temporary foreign workers is calculated, taking into account efforts made by employers to help workers obtain permanent residence.
  • Employers who have a recent history of recruiting workers who have made the transition to permanent residence could be eligible to be excluded from the limit calculation, a number of workers roughly equal to the number who are likely to achieve permanent residence in the near term.

Why did Canada create the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?

With permanent resident status, foreign workers would have access to more of the social programs they help pay for through taxation, such as Employment Insurance and the Canadian Pension Plan. With the agri-food immigration pilot, more workers will be able to plan long-term settlement in Canada, rather than a temporary stint with little-to-no hope of settling permanently.

When the agri-food immigration pilot was first proposed earlier in 2019, it was welcomed by bodies such as the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), with CFA President Mary Robinson stating, “If you’re a farmer and you don’t have secure labour, then you are less likely to make investments in your industry and you are less likely to expand your business.

“We know that labour is a limiting factor for a lot of agriculture industries in Canada,” added Robinson. “It was reported in 2014 that approximately 26,400 jobs were left unfilled and we lost 1.5 billion dollars as a result.”

The pilot is a collaboration between Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).