Two communities are now accepting applications from workers hoping to immigrate to one of Canada’s rural or northern communities. The communities of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Altona/Rhineland, Manitoba, are now officially accepting applications from hopeful newcomers.
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.
It is expected that other communities will open to applicants in the near future. Brandon, Manitoba has announced they will begin accepting applications from workers as of December 1, 2019, with Claresholme, Alberta announcing it will begin accepting applications in January, 2020.
Those interested in applying to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program should pay attention in the coming weeks and months as it is likely the other participating communities will be making similar announcements.
Which communities are participating?
Eleven rural and northern communities across four Canadian provinces have been selected as part of the new 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 January 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 pilot will help attract people that are needed to drive economic growth and help support middle-class jobs 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.
Rural and Northern Pilot communities
The selected communities are:
|North Bay, ON||Coming soon|
|Sudbury, ON||Coming soon|
|Timmins, ON||Coming soon|
|Sault Ste. Marie, ON||www.welcometossm.com|
|Thunder Bay, ON||www.gothunderbay.com|
|Brandon, MB||Coming soon|
|Moose Jaw, SK||Coming soon|
|Claresholm, AB||Coming soon|
|Vernon, BC||Coming soon|
|West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), BC||Coming soon|
See the interactive map below to see the locations of these communities. Click on any of the pins to learn more about a specific community.
The participating communities were selected as a representative sample of the regions across Canada to assist in laying out the blueprint for the rest of the country. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will now begin to work with selected communities to position them to begin identifying candidates for permanent residence.
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 continuous full-time work experience (or an equivalent amount in part-time, 1560 hours), obtained in the previous three years. 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 NOC skill level;
- Must be at an NOC skill level which is within one skill level of the applicant’s qualifying work experience. For example, for a candidate with qualifying experience at NOC Skill Level A, the position could be at NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B. Exception: If your qualifying experience is at NOC Skill Level D, then your job offer must also be in NOC Skill Level D; 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 NOC skill level of the candidate’s qualifying work experience:
- NOC Skill Level 0 or A: Canadian Language Benchmark of Level 6 (CLB6)
- NOC Skill Level B: CLB 5
- NOC Skill Level C or D: CLB 4
To demonstrate language proficiency, candidates must submit results from an approved language test completed within the two years prior to applying.
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.
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 members||Required funds (in CAD)|
|1 (single applicant)||$12,669|
|For each additional family member, add||$3,414|
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 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 will be responsible for candidate recruitment and endorsement for permanent residence.
- Newcomers are expected to begin to arrive under this pilot in 2020.
- Communities worked with local economic development organizations to submit an application which demonstrated how they met the eligibility criteria (outlined above) by March 11, 2019.
- The Atlantic Immigration Pilot was launched in March 2017 as part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy. The four Atlantic provinces are able to endorse up to 2,500 workers in 2019 under that pilot to meet labour market needs in the region.
- 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%.