Atlantic pilot program fast track to East Coast immigration

October 9, 2019

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) offers a fast route for employers wishing to hire immigrants and for people wishing to immigrate to Atlantic Canada. The AIPP has recently been extended until December 2021.

The AIPP is an employer-driven program that allows Atlantic Canadian employers looking to fill labour gaps with applicants who meet their needs by providing them with job offers and settlement support. There are 2,500 spaces allocated to the four Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island.

There are three steps to an AIPP application:

  1. The Designation of the employer, which takes approximately two months at the provincial level;
  2. The Endorsement of the applicant, which takes approximately two months at the provincial level; and
  3. The federal processing of the Application for Permanent Residence, which takes approximately six months.

The AIPP has two programs for skilled workers: The Atlantic High-Skilled Program, and the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program. It also has one program for International Student Graduates: The Atlantic International Graduate Program.

Programs for skilled workers

All AIPP applicants under the High-Skilled and Intermediate-Skilled Streams need to have:

  • An Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) from an approved agency issued in the last five years showing the equivalent of a Canadian high school (Grade 12) education or higher;
  • Language test results from one of the two acceptable English language tests (CELPIP or IELTS) or French language tests (TEF or TCF Canada) taken in the last two years showing Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) Level 4 or higher; and
  • Proof of one year (1,560 hours) of skilled or semi-skilled (National Occupational Classification Level O, A, B or C) work experience in the last three years prior to applying under the AIPP. This work experience cannot have been self-employment.

International graduate program

Applicants under the International Graduate Program need to have been a full-time student in Atlantic Canada for at least two years and have graduated in the last 24 months before applying.

They need to have lived in one of the Atlantic provinces for at least 16 months in the last two years before they graduated.

Applicants do not need any work experience, but they do need a minimum two-year degree, diploma, certificate or trade/apprenticeship credential from a recognized publicly-funded institution in an Atlantic Canadian province. This is a great way for international students to stay in Atlantic Canada.

Open work permits for spouses of AIPP applicants

As of June 1, 2019, it is possible for all spouses of AIPP applicants to get an Open Work Permit while the federal processing of the AIPP application takes place. Previously, this was only possible for spouses of applicants who had job offers in high-skilled jobs (National Occupational Classification Level 0, A or B), but not intermediate-skilled jobs (National Occupational Classification Level C).

Skilled worker and international graduate programs

All applicants must have a job offer from a designated employer in an Atlantic Canadian province for a non-seasonal job that is 30 hours/week or more.

Employers can apply to be designated and eligible under the AIPP through the applicable provincial immigration office in Nova Scotia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; and Prince Edward Island.

For a list of Designated Employers, go to these sites: Nova Scotia; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Prince Edward Island.

Although we can’t help applicants find a job offer, once an applicant has found a job offer from an Atlantic Canadian employer, we can assist with the Application for Permanent Residence and with a Work Permit Application if the applicant wishes. We can also assist Atlantic Canadian employers who have identified an applicant they would like to hire.

Although the employer does not need a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), the employer does need to show that efforts to hire locally have not been successful. For example, in Nova Scotia, the employer must show advertising efforts for four consecutive weeks in three different places, one of which must be national in scope. The employer must also provide an individualized settlement plan co-signed with the applicant and must commit to working with a service provider organization on settlement and retention.

In conclusion, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program is a great option for both Atlantic Canadian employers and qualified applicants who have a job offer from an Atlantic Canadian employer.

Suzanne Rix is a partner with Cox & Palmer’s Halifax office and practises in the area of citizenship and immigration law.


This article was first published in The Lawyer’s Daily.

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