The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program

In March 2017 the Government of Canada created several programs to encourage immigration to Eastern Canada through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (the “AIPP“).

The AIPP consists of the following three immigration programs.

  • Atlantic High-skilled Program (“AHSP“)
  • Atlantic Intermediate-skilled Program (“AISP“)
  • Atlantic International Graduate Program (“AIGP“)

In 2017 a maximum of 2,000 applications will be accepted, unless Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC“) decides to increase the cap.  Within the 2,000 cap, a maximum of 646 applications will be processed for people destined for New Brunswick, 792 applications applications will be submitted for people intending to live in Nova Scotia, 442 applications for Newfoundland and Labrador, and 120 applications for Prince Edward Island will be accepted for processing.

The main attractiveness of the program compared to federal immigration programs appears to be lower language requirements and the ability of people working in National Occupational Classification (“NOC“) C to participate.

Provincial Endorsements

In each of the programs listed above, applicants must receive provincial endorsement.

Provinces can only endorse individuals in support of applications for permanent residence made through the paper-based (non-Express Entry) process.Atlantic High-skilled Program.

The PEI designation process is described in detail here.

The Newfoundland designation process is described in detail here.

The New Brunswick designation process is described in detail here.

The Nova Scotia designation process is described in detail here.

Atlantic High-skilled Program

The AHSP is for foreign nationals who intend to reside in an Atlantic province who have the ability to become economically established in that province.

A person is eligible for the AHSP if at the time of their application for permanent residence:

  • they show that they have Canadian Language Benchmark 4 or higher in each of the four language skill areas (listening, reading, speaking and writing);
  • they hold either a Canadian educational credential or both a foreign diploma, certificate or credential and an equivalency assessment confirming the equivalency;
  • they have, in the preceding three years, accumulated at least one year of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work, in an occupation listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A or B of the NOC matrix;
  • they have received from a recognized employer — that is, an employer that is designated by an Atlantic province in accordance with an immigration agreement to make employment offers — an offer of employment that (a) they are able to perform and likely to accept and carry out, (b) they meet the relevant employment requirements of the occupation as set out in the National Occupational Classification except for certification requirements in the case of regulated occupations and (c) (i) the offered employment is full-time, non-seasonal work having a duration of at least one year, and (ii) in an occupation that is listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A or B of the NOC matrix;
  • they have been endorsed by an Atlantic province in accordance with an immigration agreement and they intend to reside in that province; and
  • in the case of a foreign national who is not already working in Canada, they have in the form of transferable and available funds, unencumbered by debts or other obligations, an amount equal to one eighth of the amount identified, in the most recent edition of the publication concerning low income cut-offs that is published by Statistics Canada under the Statistics Act for urban areas of residence of 500,000 persons or more, as the minimum amount of before-tax annual income necessary to support the foreign national and their family members, whether they are accompanying the foreign national or not.

If the foreign national is in Canada at the time of their application for permanent residence, they must have temporary resident status.

In order for the visa to be issued the offer of employment described above must still be valid or the foreign national must be occupying employment that meets same that is to last for a period of at least one year beginning on the day on which the permanent resident visa is issued.

As well, the endorsement referred to above must have been issued within the preceding six months and must not have been revoked by the issuing province.

Any periods of self-employment will not be included when calculating the period of qualifying work experience.

Work experience acquired during a period of study is allowed, as long as the work hours did not exceed what they were authorized to do.

Atlantic Intermediate-skilled Program

The AISP is for foreign nationals who intend to reside in an Atlantic province who have the ability to become economically established in that province.

A person is eligible for the AISP if at the time of their application for permanent residence:

  • they show that they have Canadian Language Benchmark 4 or higher in each of the four language skill areas (listening, reading, speaking and writing);
  • they hold either a Canadian educational credential or both a foreign diploma, certificate or credential and an equivalency assessment confirming the equivalency;
  • they have, in the preceding three years, accumulated at least one year of full-time work experience, or the equivalent in part-time work, in an occupation listed in Skill Type C of the National Occupational Classification matrix;
  • they have received from a recognized employer — that is, an employer that is designated by an Atlantic province in accordance with an immigration agreement to make employment offers — an offer of employment that (a) they are able to perform and likely to accept and carry out, (b) they meet the relevant employment requirements of the occupation as set out in the NOC except for certification requirements in the case of regulated occupations and (c) (i) the offered employment is full-time, non-seasonal work having a duration of at least one year, and (ii) in an occupation that is listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A, B or C of the NOC matrix;
  • they have been endorsed by an Atlantic province in accordance with an immigration agreement and they intend to reside in that province; and
  • in the case of a foreign national who is not already working in Canada, they have in the form of transferable and available funds, unencumbered by debts or other obligations, an amount equal to one eighth of the amount identified, in the most recent edition of the publication concerning low income cut-offs that is published by Statistics Canada under the Statistics Act for urban areas of residence of 500,000 persons or more, as the minimum amount of before-tax annual income necessary to support the foreign national and their family members, whether they are accompanying the foreign national or not.

If the foreign national is in Canada at the time of their application for permanent residence, they must have temporary resident status.

In order for the visa to be issued the offer of employment described above must still be valid or the foreign national must be occupying employment that meets same that is to last for a period of at least one year beginning on the day on which the permanent resident visa is issued.

As well, the endorsement referred to above must have been issued within the preceding six months and must not have been revoked by the issuing province.

Any periods of self-employment will not be included when calculating the period of qualifying work experience.

Work experience acquired during a period of study is allowed, as long as the work hours did not exceed what they were authorized to do.

Atlantic International Graduate Program

The AISP is for foreign nationals who intend to reside in an Atlantic province who have the ability to become economically established in that province.

A person is eligible for the AISP if at the time of their application for permanent residence:

  • they show that they have Canadian Language Benchmark 4 or higher in each of the four language skill areas (listening, reading, speaking and writing);
  • they have in the preceding 12 months obtained, as a full-time student, a post-secondary Canadian educational credential that is from an eligible two-year program offered;
    • Acadia University;
    • Atlantic School of Theology;
    • Cape Breton University;
    • Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick;
    • Collège de l’Île;
    • College of the North Atlantic;
    • Dalhousie University;
    • Holland College;
    • Maritime College of Forest Technology;
    • Memorial University of Newfoundland;
    • Mount Allison University;
    • Mount Saint Vincent University;
    • New Brunswick College of Craft and Design;
    • New Brunswick Community College;
    • Nova Scotia College of Art and Design;
    • Nova Scotia Community College;
    • Saint Francis Xavier University;
    • Saint Mary’s University;
    • Saint Thomas University;
    • University of King’s College;
    • University of New Brunswick;
    • Unversite de Moncton;
    • University of Prince Edward Island; or
    • Universite of Sainte-Anne;
  • they had been physically present in the Atlantic province where the institution that granted the Canadian credential is located for at least 16 months during the 24 months preceding the day on which that credential was granted, had temporary resident status for the entire period during which they were obtaining it and had authorization for any work or study they engaged in during that entire period;
  • they have received from a recognized employer — that is, an employer that is designated by an Atlantic province in accordance with an immigration agreement to make employment offers — an offer of employment that (a) they are able to perform and likely to accept and carry out, (b) they meet the relevant employment requirements of the occupation as set out in the NOC except for certification requirements in the case of regulated occupations and (c) (i) the offered employment is full-time, non-seasonal work having a duration of at least one year, and (ii) in an occupation that is listed in Skill Type 0 Management Occupations or Skill Level A, B or C of the NOC matrix;
  • they have been endorsed by an Atlantic province in accordance with an immigration agreement and they intend to reside in that province; and
  • in the case of a foreign national who is not already working in Canada, they have in the form of transferable and available funds, unencumbered by debts or other obligations, an amount equal to one eighth of the amount identified, in the most recent edition of the publication concerning low income cut-offs that is published by Statistics Canada under the Statistics Act for urban areas of residence of 500,000 persons or more, as the minimum amount of before-tax annual income necessary to support the foreign national and their family members, whether they are accompanying the foreign national or not.

Only certain educational credentials are eligible for the AIGP. An educational credential is not eligible if the credentials were obtained in a study or training program where:

  • the study of English or French as a second language was at least half of the program;
  • distance learning was at least half of the program; or
  • where a scholarship or fellowship stipulated that the recipient return to their home country to apply the knowledge and skills gained.

If the foreign national is in Canada at the time of their application for permanent residence, they must have temporary resident status.

In order for the visa to be issued the offer of employment described above must still be valid or the foreign national must be occupying employment that meets same that is to last for a period of at least one year beginning on the day on which the permanent resident visa is issued.

As well, the endorsement referred to above must have been issued within the preceding six months and must not have been revoked by the issuing province.

New LMIA Exemption

Foreign nationals who receive a job offer from an employer and a Referral Letter issued by one of the Atlantic Provinces may be eligible to apply for a one-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt employer-specific work .

To be eligible for a temporary work permit, foreign nationals will need

  • a valid job offer
  • a referral letter from a province, and
  • a commitment to apply for permanent residence within 90 days of submitting the temporary work permit application.