The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) was officially launched on March 6, with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) now in a position to receive applications for permanent residence through this innovative new program. A range of workers and graduates now have another opportunity to immigrate to Canada through the AIPP, with the program’s unique criteria and speedy processing times almost certain to prove attractive.
The AIPP was established by the federal government in conjunction with the Atlantic provinces, namely Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Newfoundland and Labrador. Employers will be heavily involved in the process, with all applicants needing a job offer in order to meet the eligibility requirements. Applicants also require provincial endorsement before submitting an application to IRCC.
Up to 2,000 new applications to this program will be processed in 2017, and the program is set to last for an initial period of three years. IRCC aims to process 80 percent of complete applications within six months, a similar processing time objective to the Express Entry selection system.
That being said, AIPP applications will be processed separately from Express Entry applications. Indeed, some potential applicants who are not eligible to immigrate to Canada through Express Entry may be eligible to immigrate through the AIPP. For one thing, the language ability requirement for the AIPP is less onerous than for the programs managed under Express Entry.
There is no points system under the AIPP, and the program operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
The AIPP has two sub-programs for skilled workers:
- the Atlantic High-Skilled Program (AHSP), and
the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program (AISP),
- and one sub-program for international student graduates:
- the Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP).
Although some applicant requirements are universal across the three sub-programs, other requirements are specific to each sub-program. The work experience, education, and job offer required depend on whether the individual is applying as a high- or intermediate-skilled worker, or as an international student graduate.
Language requirement is low
Applicants must prove language ability of at least fluent basic level in either English or French in order to apply to the program. This is equivalent to Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4. The following language tests are approved:
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System) — General test only.
- CELPIP (Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program) — General test only.
- TEF (Test d’évaluation de français).
To find out how this corresponds with the standardized language tests recognized by IRCC for this program, use the Canada Immigration Language Converter.
Many Canadian immigration programs require applicants to have at least one year of skilled work experience in a managerial, professional, or technical/trades (NOC 0, A or B) position. The Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program of the AIPP, however, offers an immigration opportunity to individuals whose work experience and/or job offer is in the NOC C category. These occupations usually require secondary education and/or occupation-specific training.
A unique option for graduates
Most Canadian immigration programs that aim to help international students who graduate in Canada transition to permanent residence require the applicant to have obtained some work experience. The AIGP is a notable exception, as no work experience is required. As a result, it offers a more straightforward pathway to permanent residence for those who want to immigrate quickly after graduation.
Applicants must show that they have enough money to support themselves and their family members, if applicable, after landing in Canada, unless they are working in Canada under a valid work permit. These funds cannot be borrowed from another person.
Employers and settlement
One of the most interesting aspects of the AIPP is the role played by local employers, who work with settlement service provider organizations in their province. This will help newcomers settle and integrate into life in Canada.
Employers do not need to go through the process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) under this program. However, the employer designation process and settlement service provider organizations are different for each province:
- Nova Scotia employer requirements
- New Brunswick employer requirements
- Prince Edward Island employer requirements
- Newfoundland and Labrador employer requirements
Further, employers that need to fill a job vacancy quickly will have access to a temporary work permit, so that the candidate and his or her family can come to Canada as soon as possible. In order to obtain this work permit, candidates will need:
- a valid job offer;
- a letter from the province; and
- a commitment to apply for permanent residence within 90 days of the temporary work permit application.
An innovative addition
“The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is something fresh and innovative in the Canadian immigration landscape. Many ambitious newcomers and their families will be able to call Canada their long-term home over the coming months and years as a result of this program,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“Atlantic Canada has a lot to offer. Its cities and towns are family-friendly, with a wide range of schools, low crime rates, and expanding employment opportunities. Moreover, the AIPP ensures that newcomers have a job and settlement services on arrival, allowing them to quickly prosper in their new surroundings.”