One reason why immigration is a controversial topic in other countries is because there is a mismatch between the talent required by employers and communities and the actual immigrants admitted by the government.
Skilled immigration is a simple and uncontroversial affair in Canada because of the country’s decentralized approach towards immigration. Canada’s provinces have more than a hundred streams and programs under the various Provincial Nomination Programs.
There are streams for skilled workers, semi-skilled workers, those with our without job offer, those with study experience in the province, as well as those planning on becoming an entrepreneur in Canada.
And then, there are pilot programs like the Atlantic pilot and the Rural and Northern pilot targeted specific provinces or even specific communities that urgently require skilled immigration talent.
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Rural Community and Immigration—the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
More than half of all skilled immigrants entering Canada choose to settle in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. However, the need for skilled talent is present across the country. The Atlantic pilot was an immigration program designed specifically to boost skilled immigration into the four Atlantic provinces.
The Northern and Rural pilot is an attempt to encourage immigrants to look beyond urban areas. Further, it takes decentralization a step ahead by going beyond provinces and enabling communities to frame eligibility rules for immigrants.
A total of 11 communities across Canada are participating in this pilot. The most important requirement of this program is Intent to Settle. You must intend to settle in the community and you will be assessed based on factors like
- Knowledge about the community
- Steps you have taken to settle in the community
- Linkages to the community like study or work experience of self or spouse in the community
The Community pilot has a point-based ranking system where you will be ranked against the various requirements as determined by the community.
Like applicants, employers too will have to apply to participate in the program. Employers will be scored and those ranked above the minimum score will permitted to participate. Communities are free to exempt employers doing business in in-demand sectors from these requirements.
How to Qualify for the Northern and Rural Pilot
The general eligibility requirements include-
- At least one year qualifying work experience in the past three years. Or, you must have graduated from a public institution located in the community and are applying within 18 months of your graduation.
- You must have minimum language proficiency of CLB 6, CLB 5, or CLB 4 for NOC 0 & A, B, and NOC C & D occupations respectively.
- If you did not graduate from the community, then you must have completed Canadian high school or its foreign equivalent to be eligible to apply.
- You have enough funds to provide for yourself and your family until you get settled in the community.
Apart from these requirements, you must intend to live in the community and must fulfill the various other eligibility requirements specified by the community in which you intend to settle.
This pattern resembles Provincial Nomination Programs where standard Federal eligibility requirements cover immigrants’ health, police record, and financial stability while provinces are free to specify additional eligibility requirements.
Qualified for Northern and Rural Pilot—Now What?
The Northern and Rural pilot is a program for direct permanent residence in Canada. However, it can take a bit of time for your application to get processed.
So, after responding to the Invitation to Apply, you can apply for an employer-specific work permit to enter and work in Canada without any delays. This work permit will be valid for a period of one year.
During this period, your PR application will be processed and you will get a final decision on whether you have qualified for permanent residence or not. Once your application is approved, you become a permanent resident and can continue living and working in the community as a Canadian permanent resident.
For skilled workers, the best thing about this program is that you get an additional option to qualify for permanent residence even if you don’t have a high CRS score in your Express Entry profile or are unlikely to quickly qualify for a provincial nomination.