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The Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot is an immigration pilot program designed to bring skilled workers to Ontario's rural communities. On November 5, 2020, the program announced that they had reached their quota for the year. Interested participants may still submit intake forms to be placed on a waitlist.

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Three communities are participating in the new Ontario Regional Immigration pilot. The communities of Chatham-Kent, Cornwall and Belleville/Quinte West were selected based on their labour needs and the size of their populations.

This new Canadian immigration program is creating exciting new opportunities for potential immigrants looking for a way to make Ontario their new home. Ontario has stated that the program is intended to create “innovative approaches to bring highly skilled immigrants to smaller communities.”

How can you apply to immigrate through the Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot?

Ontario has stated that “the OINP will allocate approximately 150 nominations for the pilot through the OINP Employer Job Offer category.”

Applicants to the Regional Immigration Pilot must:

  • Have a full-time and permanent job offer from an employer located in one of the pilot communities (Chatham-Kent, Cornwall or Quinte West/Belleville), and
  • Meet the criteria for one of the streams under the OINP’s Employer Job Offer category. The Employer Job Offer stream contains three distinct PNP categories: International Student, Foreign Worker, and In-Demand Skills.

To apply for the pilot, applicants must complete an intake form and submit the form by email to [email protected]. To access the intake form please follow the link on the Regional Immigration Pilot on the OINP webpage.

When submitting the intake form, applicants must complete the form in its entirety as incomplete forms will not be accepted.

Note to applicants: Submission of the Regional Immigration Pilot intake form does not mean you have a completed an OINP application. If your initial form is deemed to be complete and accurate, OINP will contact you with details on how to submit an application.

The Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot: How were communities selected?

Following a consultation phase with several communities, Ontario released the names of the three communities chosen for this phase: Chatham-Kent, Cornwall and Belleville/Quinte West.

In order to have been considered for the consultation period, communities must have a population of between 20,000 and 200,000. In addition, communities were assessed based on their newcomer settlement, newcomer settlement infrastructure such as language and settlement services, and economic characteristics.

As the program is a pilot, it will most likely be launched for a set period of time. Following the pilot, the province will assess and determine whether or not to extend or make the program a permanent fixture in Ontario immigration.

The Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot is similar to the federal Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot that was announced earlier in 2019. Both are designed to facilitate immigration to rural areas. However, Ontario has explicitly stated that the new Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot is not meant to duplicate the federal pilot, but rather to complement it.

Why choose Ontario for Canadian immigration

Ontario is Canada’s most popular destination for new permanent residents. In 2019, 64 percent of all new permanent residents admitted through Express Entry chose to immigrate to Ontario.

The reasons? Ontario is known to have an incredibly strong economy, with many job prospects. The province hosts two of Canada’s major cities: Toronto, the largest city in Canada and the fastest growing tech-jobs market in North America, and Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, with many positions in government as well as a growing tech sector.

Ontario is a massive province, and many immigrants choose Toronto or Ottawa without looking into other regions in the province. It appears that the Ontario Regional Immigration Pilot may be one new strategy to help newcomers recognize some of the small-town charm found outside the city centres.

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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