Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot: Canada Immigration Program Could Be Made Permanent

Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot: Canada Immigration Program Could Be Made Permanent

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) will become a permanent immigration program or at least continue in some form beyond its slated end date of August next year., says Canada Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

“From my perspective the Rural and Northern Immigration Program has been an enormous success,” the immigration reportedly said. 

“The only critical feedback I’ve received is that the communities that benefit from the program would like to bring more people in through the program.”

Through the five-year RNIP, skilled immigrants are recruited to work in smaller communities with aging populations and labour shortages.

Launched as the COVID-19 pandemic was about to hit with its public health and travel restrictions which made immigration difficult, the RNIP nonetheless welcomed 390 new permanent residents in 2021, the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals. 

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Then, last year, that number more than tripled to hit 1,360 new permanent residents through the RNIP.

So far this year, the IRCC only has data for the RNIP for the month of January but in that one month alone the program welcomed 510 new permanent residents. 

That level of arrivals through the RNIP, if continued throughout the rest of 2023, would mean the arrival of 6,120 immigrants through the program this year, more than four times as many as last year. 

Fraser cautioned that evaluating the RNIP’s performance will be somewhat difficult because it was launched during the pandemic.

“We haven’t made formally a decision to make the program permanent yet, not because we don’t like the program, but because the first few years of the program’s existence happened under very challenging circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he reportedly said. 

To be included in the pilot, communities must:

  • have a population of 50,000 or less and be located at least 75km from the core of a census metropolitan area, or;
  • have a population of up to 200,000 people and is considered remote from other larger cities, according to the Statistics Canada Remoteness Index.

Mayors Of Participating Communities Heartened To Hear RNIP Will Likely Be Extended

Fraser’s suggestion that the RNIP would continue in some form beyond next year was music to the ears of participating communities’ mayors.

“I’ve heard first-hand from employers that had it not been for the (RNIP) program, you know, they might not have been able to stay open into the next year,” Timmins Mayor Michelle Boileau reportedly told the CBC. 

“So, it’s having a very positive impact on our business community.”

Under this pilot program, candidates must meet both the federal and the community eligibility requirements.

There are currently 11 participating communities in the pilot program. These include:

Community Community website
North Bay, ON
Sudbury, ON
Timmins, ON
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Thunder Bay, ON
Brandon, MB
Altona/Rhineland, MB
Moose Jaw, SK
Claresholm, AB
Vernon, BC
West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), BC

The federal requirements include qualifying work experience or an international student exemption.

Candidates must have one year (1,560 hours) of full or part-time work experience in the last three years but it doesn’t need to be continuous or be with just one employer. It must, however, include most of the main and essential duties listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and unpaid and self-employed hours do not count.

Candidates who are international students are exempt from needing work experience provided they either graduated with a master’s or doctoral degree or:

  • graduated with a credential from a minimum two-year-long post-secondary program in the recommended community;
  • were studying as a full-time student for the full duration of two or more years;
  • received the credential no more than 18 months before the date of application for permanent residence, and;
  • they were in the community for at least 16 of the last 24 months spent studying to get the credential.

Those who graduated with the higher degrees must still:

  • have studied as a full-time student for the duration of the degree in the recommended community;
  • received the degree no more than 18 months before applying for permanent residence, and;
  • have been in the community for the length of their studies.

Amount Of Settlement Funds Needed Under RNIP Changed In September Last Year

There are basic minimum language requirements for the RNIP with the level required based on the classification of the job under the National Occupational Classification system. Candidates must also have a Canadian high school diploma or an equivalent foreign credential with an accredited Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report.

The language proficiency can be demonstrated through either the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) standards with the minimum language requirements for each NOC category being:

  • TEER 0 and 1: CLB/NCLC 6
  • TEER 2 and 3: CLB/NCLC 5
  • TEER 4 and 5: CLB/NCLC 4

These results must be submitted from a designated language test and be less than two years old at the time of the application.

Under the program, applicants must demonstrate they have enough money to support themselves and family members while they get settled in their community. This includes family members who may not be coming to Canada.

Candidates already working legally in Canada are exempt from settlement fund requirements.

This money cannot be borrowed from another person and the proof of funds can include:

  • bank account statements;
  • documents that show real property or other investments (such as stocks, bonds, debentures or treasury bills), or;
  • documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money payable such as banker’s drafts, cheques, traveller’s cheques or money orders.

The amount of settlement funds under the RNIP for new applicants who applied with a community recommendation after Sept. 23 last year is:

Number of family members Funds needed
1 $2,290
2 $2,851
3 $3,505
4 $4,256
5 $4,827
6 $5,444
7 $6,062
For each additional family member $618
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