Canada has multiple immigration pilot programs covering specific regions, occupations, and communities.
The four Atlantic provinces have the Atlantic Immigration pilot. And then there is the Rural and Northern pilot focusing on boosting rural immigration. Occupation-specific pilots include the BC Tech pilot, the Home Child Care Provider and Home Support Worker pilots, and the Agri-Food pilot.
Quebec recently introduced three new pilots—the Quebec Permanent Immigration pilot for Orderlies, Quebec Food Processing Workers pilot, and Quebec pilot program for AI, IT and Visual Effects workers.
Now, what’s unique about Canadian immigration pilot programs is that they rarely end. The BC Tech pilot has been going on for quite some time now. The Atlantic Pilot was extended more than once and was converted into a permanent program in February 2021.
Considering Canada’s need for medical orderlies, food processing workers, and tech workers, it’s unlikely that the three new programs introduced by Quebec shall be terminated anytime soon.
This means anybody serious about immigrating to Canada cannot afford to ignore pilot programs.
Benefits of Choosing Pilot Programs
Traditionally, an employer hiring a foreign worker would issue the job offer, apply for LMIA, and, if required, work with a Canadian lawyer to help the worker apply for the work permit.
Other tasks like moving to Canada, finding a house, helping spouse get a job, securing admission for children, and other various other tasks related to settling in Canada was the applicant’s responsibility.
The Atlantic Pilot brought a major change by requiring employers to be involved in the settlement process. Pilot programs are often used by the government to introduce innovative changes to the immigration process.
Settlement assistance has worked well and the AIPP experience has made it easier for other provinces to replicate the move. So, choosing a pilot program to immigrate can help you enjoy benefits and advantages that other applicants don’t enjoy.
Secondly, pilot programs are set up to cater to a specific demand for foreign workers. The Atlantic provinces wanted to attract skilled workers and the AIPP was designed accordingly.
The Community pilot takes decentralization to another level by allowing communities to create immigration streams designed to tackle local shortage of skilled workers. Unlike standard programs, these immigration streams are designed in consultation with employers. This means the ‘am interested but no job’ issue just won’t happen.
If you fit the bill, then the job’s probably waiting for you and the process of getting the job, completing immigration formalities, and qualifying for PR can take place very quickly.
Thirdly, permanent residence obtained through a pilot program does not have any restrictions attached. Whether you qualified for PR through Express Entry or the Rural and Northern Pilot, your rights as a permanent resident remain the same.
So, a candidate qualifying under the BC Tech pilot can explore options in other provinces. Of course, you will have to make sure you don’t violate the conditions of your admission into Canada by planning such a move.
Finally, pilots can be extremely occupation-specific, which means ticking the right occupation can help you look beyond work permits and qualify for permanent residence very quickly. A child care provider or a home support worker can probably qualify for PR faster than a tech worker with a low CRS score.
With Quebec’s pilot for AI, IT and Visual effects workers going online, those looking for tech jobs beyond Ontario and British Columbia now have a third province to explore.
Again, the fact that pilots are setup to tackle labor shortages means eligible candidates can see their immigration journey move a lot faster than those who are not eligible to apply through Pilots.
Pilots or Conventional Programs—Why Not Both?
Why should this be an either/or decision? Ideally, you should explore all possible avenues to immigrate to Canada. This means you should assess your eligibility under Express Entry, PNPs, Pilots, and even work permit programs simultaneously.
A DIY approach may work well if you are just doing this as an academic exercise. However, if you really want to immigrate to Canada and if you want comprehensive assistance, then you should seriously considering relying on a professional.
Pilot programs are constantly evolving, which means new programs may always be round the corner. An immigration attorney can help you focus on multiple options simultaneously. This will ensure you are always ready to grab the first opportunity to move and settle in Canada.