What’s the biggest difference between Canada’s immigration system and the immigration framework of other developed countries? In one word—stability.
Canada’s immigration system is always changing. New programs and streams are being introduced. Provinces are updating the list of their in-demand occupations. Immigration draws are being held all the time and authorities are changing and revising rules and regulations to make the immigration system more efficient.
Immigration Pilots= Stability
Yet, there is a sense of stability and predictability around Canada’s immigration system, and the primary reason behind it is the success of pilot programs in Canada.
Will an immigration experiment work? A pilot is the best way to find the answer. And through pilots, Canada has found that an immigration program designed specifically for four provinces can work. Or that a program specifically for tech workers will be very popular. Or that community-specific programs focusing on rural areas too will be very effective.
Pilot programs help Canadian immigration authorities experiment with different strategies without putting the stability of the entire system at risk. If the program does not work as planned, then it can simply be allowed to expire.
Immigration Pilots—Focus on Implementation
Whether a particular change in an immigration program is a good idea or not can be discussed for a long time with no real clarity. Pilot programs allow Canada to simply deploy the changes and assess their efficacy through practical implementation.
Does lower language proficiency requirements help tackle shortage of workers? Is decentralized immigration with greater powers to provinces beneficial as compared to a federal-centric setup?
Different immigration pilots have helped Canada assess the pros and cons of different strategies with actionable data guiding decision making.
Immigration Pilots—Inbuilt Expiry
The best part is that every pilot has an inbuilt expiry date. If not extended, it simply comes to an end. And if the programs work, then the extensions can be rolled out again and again until it’s time to make the program permanent. Just like the Atlantic Immigration program as well as the BC Tech program.
Immigration Pilots—Changes Welcome
Unlike permanent programs, pilots can be changed and modified without any significant concerns. Every pilot program is an experiment, which means all the stakeholders involved are aware of the possibility of changes and even complete revamp as the program gets implemented.
The annual quota assigned to the four Atlantic provinces under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot was frequently changed to help provinces find the right targets suited to their economic requirements.
The list of occupations covered under the BC PNP Tech Pilot was frequently updated to ensure the province could focus on tech workers with specific in-demand skills that were in shortage.
Immigration Pilots—Federal as well as Provincial
Canada’s federal as well as provincial governments have used pilots to experiment and to focus to specific sectors and areas requiring attention.
In March 2021, Quebec announced three pilots for food processing workers, orderlies, and artificial intelligence, information technology and visual effects skilled workers.
The Startup Visa was introduced as a pilot and it continues to remain a federal program. Going ahead, the Municipal Immigration program too is likely to be introduced as a pilot, although it’s more likely that this program will operate under the Provincial Nomination Program.
Perhaps the biggest advantage that pilot programs offer is that every program serves as platform for better pilots. It may seem that Canada has a very good track record with pilots but this is probably because only the successful pilots get extended.
The Immigrant Investor Venture Capital Fund pilot program was introduced in 2015 but suspended the very next year when the response was not as anticipated.
On the other hand, the list of pilots that become permanent programs is very long. The Federal Startup Visa program was introduced in 2013 as a pilot and made permanent in 2018.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot was setup in 2017 and become a permanent program after four years in 2021.
2019 saw four major pilot programs being introduced—the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, two pilot programs aimed at caregivers in Canada, and Agri-Food Immigration Pilot.
As a skilled worker or entrepreneur or even a student in Canada, you would do well to include the various pilot programs in your plans when assessing your immigration options. The smartest strategy would be work with an immigration professional with thorough understanding of the various options so that you can make an informed choice and work and settle in Canada without any hassles.