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After bringing in more than 10,000 new permanent residents to Atlantic Canada since 2017 and achieving a retention rate above 90 percent, the Atlantic Immigration Program is now permanent.

The Atlantic Immigration Program was first launched as a pilot program. Through the Atlantic Immigration Program, skilled workers with a job offer in Atlantic Canada, plus accompanying family members, immigrate to a region of Canada that is attempting to attract more immigrants to help communities thrive, businesses prosper, and bolster the population.

Atlantic Immigration Program
Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada comprises the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Applicants with a job offer from an approved employer are in a position to move to one of these provinces, as long as they fulfil 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.

Since 2017, participating employers have made thousands of job offers in key sectors, including health care, accommodations, food services, and manufacturing. The fact that the Atlantic Immigration Program facilitates a match between skilled workers and employers helps to keep the retention rate — the portion of program participants who actually stay in the region longer than one year — above 90 percent, far higher than for other programs.

There are a couple of minor changes to the Atlantic Immigration Program as it shifts from pilot to permanent status. The changes include clarifying roles between partners, increasing employer support through training, and strengthening program requirements to ensure newcomers can successfully establish themselves in the region.

Otherwise, Atlantic Immigration Program requirements remain much the same as before.

“Over the past few years, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot has made an incredible difference in communities across our region,” said Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser, himself an Atlantic Canadian from Nova Scotia. “It has brought us the resource we need most: more people. They’re skilled, they’re young and they’re staying. Now, we’re doubling down on what works by making it permanent, so we can continue attracting the best and brightest to our region and build a vibrant, prosperous future for Atlantic Canada.”

Source: IRCC

About the Atlantic Immigration Program

There is no points system under the Atlantic Immigration Program, and the program operates on a first-come, first-served basis.

To apply to the Atlantic Immigration Program, you need to be either:

  • a skilled worker, or
  • a graduate of an eligible post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada.

You may apply from within Canada or abroad, however, you must meet the requirements of the following broad categories:

  • qualifying work experience, unless you graduated from an eligible Atlantic Canada post-secondary institution
  • educational requirements
  • language requirements
  • settlement funds, unless you’re already living and working in Canada on a valid work permit.

Once you meet all these criteria, you may start looking for a job with a designated Atlantic Canada employer. More details on eligibility criteria is available below.

AIP Work Experience

You must have worked at least 1,560 hours, which equates to one year of full time work experience of 30 hours per week, within the past five years. Volunteering, unpaid internships, and self employment do not count.

To calculate your hours, you can:

  • Count paid hours worked in part-time and full-time jobs.
  • Don’t count volunteering or unpaid internships.
  • Don’t count hours when you were self-employed.
  • Count hours worked inside or outside Canada. Hours worked in Canada must have been authorized, meaning you had a temporary residence status such as a work permit or study permit.
  • Count work experience acquired while studying, as long as the work hours don’t exceed what was authorized.
  • Count hours that were accumulated over a period of at least 12 months.

Your work experience should fall under one of these National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 Training, Education, Experience and Responsibilities (TEER) categories:

  • TEER 0 (management jobs such as restaurant managers or mine managers)
  • TEER 1 (professional jobs that usually need a degree from a university, such as doctors, dentists or architects)
  • TEER 2 (technical jobs and skilled trades requiring at least two years of college or apprenticeship, or occupations with supervisory or safety responsibilities such as police officers and firefighters)
  • TEER 3 (technical jobs and skilled trades requiring less than two years of college or apprenticeship; or more than six months of on-the-job training)
  • TEER 4 (intermediate jobs that usually call for high school and/or several weeks of job-specific training, such as industrial butchers, long-haul truck drivers, or food and beverage servers)

Your work experience must include the actions in the description of your NOC and most of the main duties of your NOC.

AIP international graduates

You don’t need to meet the work experience requirements if you’re an international graduate who:

  • has a degree, diploma, certificate, or trade or apprenticeship certification that took at least two years of studies from a recognized post-secondary institution in one of the four Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador)
  • was a full-time student for the entire time you were studying
  • lived in one of the Atlantic provinces for at least 16 months during the last two years before you graduated
  • had the visa or permit you needed to work, study or get training while you were in Canada

AIP education requirements

Education requirements depend on your job offer. If your job is in:

  • TEER 0 or 1 category, then you must have a Canadian one-year post-secondary educational credential or higher, or the equivalent from outside Canada.
  • TEER 2, 3, or 4 category, then you must have a Canadian high school diploma, or the foreign equivalent.

If you studied outside Canada, you need an educational credential assessment (ECA) to confirm that your studies are equal to or higher than the required level of education for your job offer. IRCC will only accept your ECA report if it is less than five years old.

AIP Language requirements

Your language requirement depends on what TEER category your job offer falls under.

English language requirements are measured according to the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) and the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) covers French language requirements.

The minimum language requirements for each TEER category are:

  • CLB/NCLC 5 for TEER 0, 1, 2 or 3
  • CLB/NCLC 4 for TEER 4

You must submit your results from a designated language testing organization with your application. These results must be less than two years old when you apply.

AIP settlement funds

If you’re already living and working in Canada with a valid work permit, you don’t need to show proof of funds.

The amount of money you need to support yourself and your family in Canada depends on how big your family is. IRCC changes the requirement every year, based on 12.5% of the low-income cut off totals. More on settlement funds can be found on the government website.

Atlantic Canada PNPs

To learn more, click here.

In addition to the Atlantic Immigration Program, the Atlantic provinces also operate distinct Provincial Nominee Programs, through which they may nominate people already in their province and around the world for permanent residence based on criteria set locally. Those programs include:

About the author

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Rebecca Major

Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Rebecca Major is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (R511564) with nearly 15 years of licenced Canadian Immigration experience, gained after graduating with a Bachelor of Laws in the UK. She specializes in Canadian immigration at Moving2Canada.
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