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2024/06/04—RNIP to become a permanent program. Read the full story.

The Rural and Northern Immigration pilot program is a Canadian immigration program for skilled foreign workers who want to live and work outside the big cities.

Successful applicants to the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot, plus accompanying family members, obtain Canadian permanent residence.

There are currently 11 communities accepting applications through the Rural and Northern Immigration pilot, with North Bay, Ontario being the latest addition. While many communities are open to applicants, the COVID-19 health crisis has caused some of these communities to limit applications to candidates who are already living in the region.

The 11 communities open to applicants are:

Candidates who are interested in applying must make sure that they meet the federal requirements for the program, plus the requirements set out by each community. This includes an eligible job offer from an employer in one of the participating communities.

Please refer to the table below for updated information about all participating communities and the timeline for communities to open.

Which communities are participating?

Eleven rural and northern communities across four Canadian provinces have been selected as part of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. These communities, some of which already have populations of more than 100,000, will be able to invite newcomers to make these communities their new homes.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot was announced in 2019 as a Canadian immigration initiative to address the labour market needs of smaller communities

As the Canadian population ages and the birth rate declines, rural Canada’s workforce has seen a significant decrease in available workers. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will help attract people that are needed to drive economic growth in these communities. The new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a five-year initiative aimed at testing community-driven approaches to address the labour market needs of smaller communities. Moreover, it is a potential alternative Canadian immigration option for people who have struggled through other immigration pathways, such as Express Entry.

Draws: Sudbury, Ontario

How to apply to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot?

In order to apply to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, candidates must meet two sets of criteria. First, all candidates must meet the requirements set out by Canada’s federal immigration authorities. Second, candidates must meet the additional requirements established by the participating communities.

Federal Eligibility Requirements for the RNIP

Candidates interested in applying to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot must meet the following requirements as designated by Canada’s federal government. However, please note that candidates also must meet the requirements laid out by the participating community to which they choose to apply.

Qualifying work experience or international studies

Candidates must have a minimum level of work experience OR have completed a minimum level of education at an institution in one of the participating communities.

For work experience to be considered eligible, candidates must have a minimum of 12 months of full-time work experience (or an equivalent amount in part-time, 1560 hours), obtained in the three years prior to applying. Work experience does not need to be continuous to be eligible. Work experience must be obtained in a single occupation, though it can be from multiple employers. Work experience at any National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is eligible.

For international students to be considered eligible, candidates must have completed a minimum of a two year full-time post-secondary educational credential OR a Master’s Degree or higher level of education at an institution in one of the participating communities. The studies must have been completed within 18 months of applying for permanent residence. The student must have been residing in the community for at least 16 of the 24 last months of their study period (or the full period if the credential was less than two years).

Job offer from a participating community

Candidates must have an offer of employment from an employer based in one of the participating communities. In order to be considered valid and genuine, the job offer must meet the following requirements:

  • Full-time, non-seasonal, and permanent;
  • Meets minimum wage requirements for the position’s Training, Education, Experience, and Responsibilities (TEER) category;
  • Must be at a TEER level which is within one level of the applicant’s qualifying work experience. For example, for a candidate with qualifying experience at TEER 1, the position could be at TEER 0, 1, or 2. Exception: If your qualifying experience is at TEER 5, then your job offer must also be in TEER 5 or B; and
  • Candidates’ experience must match the requirements for the position.

Interested candidates can look for available jobs on the websites of the participating communities.

English or French Language Requirements

The English or French language requirement depends on the TEER category of the candidate’s qualifying work experience:

To demonstrate language proficiency, candidates must submit results from an approved language test completed within the two years prior to applying.

Education Requirements

All candidates must have completed a minimum level of education equivalent to a Canadian high school diploma. Candidates who completed studies outside of Canada must submit an Educational Credentials Assessment with their application.

Settlement Funds

Unless a candidate is already working in Canada, they must demonstrate that they have the adequate financial resources required to support settlement in Canada. The following table outlines the required settlement funds based on the number of family members included on an application:

Number of family membersRequired funds (in CAD)
1 (single applicant)$14,690
For each additional family member, add$3,958

Intention to reside in the community

All candidates must have the intention to reside in the community to which they apply.

Why a Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot?

Building on the success of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, the Rural and Northern Pilot is designed to help participating communities gain access to a range of support to help newcomers settle in as part of the local community. So, if you’re looking to move to a smaller community in Canada, the announcement of the new Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot may mean there is a new Canadian immigration program that’s just right for you.

While rural and northern communities face specific economic and demographic challenges, including out-migration of youth, aging populations, and labour market shortages, most new immigrants settle in large urban centres, missing out on labour market opportunities and the quality of life found in smaller communities. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will help these communities identify candidates for permanent residence who can fill gaps in the local labour market.

“The equation is quite simple. Attracting and retaining newcomers with the needed skills equals a recipe for success for Canada’s rural and northern communities. We have tested a similar immigration pilot in Atlantic Canada and it has already shown tremendous results for both newcomers and Canadians,” said Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Rural Economic Development Minister Bernadette Jordan added: “Removing barriers to economic development and promoting growth in local communities across the country is a priority for the Government of Canada. This pilot will support the economic development of these communities by testing new, community-driven approaches to address their diverse labour market needs. The initial results of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot show that it has been a great success. I’m pleased we are able to introduce this new pilot to continue experimenting with how immigration can help ensure the continued vibrancy of rural areas across the country.”

Eligibility criteria for interested communities

Communities looking to participate in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot must meet the following criteria:

  • have a population of 50,000 people or less and be located at least 75 km from the core of a Census Metropolitan Area
    OR up to 200,000 people and be considered remote from other larger cities (using Statistics Canada’s index of remoteness);
  • be in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Ontario, Saskatchewan, or Yukon;
  • have job opportunities;
  • have an economic development plan;
  • have a local economic development organization that can manage the pilot for the community; and
  • be able to settle new immigrants in the community by having or developing:
    • relationships with local or regional immigrant-serving organizations,
    • opportunities to connect newcomers with established members of the community, such as through mentoring or networking.
    • access to key services like education, housing, transportation and healthcare.

Communities must also have the support, shown through letters of support from the municipality (local leaders) and a local or regional immigrant-serving organization.

The government encourages communities with French-speaking populations to apply and identify themselves in their application.

Quick facts on the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

  • Communities are responsible for candidate recruitment and endorsement for permanent residence.
  • Communities worked with local economic development organizations to submit an application which demonstrated how they met the eligibility criteria outlined above.
  • The Atlantic Immigration Pilot was launched in March 2017 as part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy. It has since become a permanent program.
  • Rural communities employ over four million Canadians and account for almost 30% of the national GDP.
  • Rural Canada supplies food, water, and energy for urban centres, sustaining the industries that contribute to Canada’s prosperous economy.
  • Between 2001 and 2016, the number of potential workers has decreased by 23% percent, while the number of potential retirees has increased by 40%.

Learn more about immigration to Canada:

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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