announced an expansion to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) at a press conference in Timmins on August 26. The RNIP is an immigration pathway that works directly with select communities in rural Canada to attract global talent and fill gaps in local labour markets.
The expansion includes measures such as:
- expanding the geographic boundaries of the following participating communities, so more employers are able to participate: North Bay (Ont.), Sudbury (Ont.), Timmins (Ont.), Thunder Bay (Ont.), Moose Jaw (Sask.), West Kootenay (BC) and Vernon (BC)
- making it easier to fill labour market needs in the health care and trades sectors, by expanding the range of job offers available to candidates with specific work experience
- allowing communities to participate for a longer period, until August 2024, when the pilot comes to an end
- reducing the amount of settlement funds participants are required to have.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also acknowledged an emphasis on encouraging Francophone immigrants to rural Canadian communities, outside of Quebec. It is promising to ensure a smooth settlement process for French-speaking immigrants and to take measures to increase the numbers of francophones as well as to endeavour to retain them.
There are 11 Canadian communities that participate in the RNIP throughout Northern Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba.
- North Bay, Ontario
- Sudbury, Ontario
- Timmins, Ontario
- Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
- Thunder Bay, Ontario
- Brandon, Manitoba
- Altona/Rhineland, Manitoba
- Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
- Claresholm, Alberta
- Vernon, British Columbia
- West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), British Columbia
Each community has the capacity to invite up to 125 candidates each year, or a program total capacity of 2,750. As of June 30, IRCC reports that 1,130 newcomers have arrived in Canada under the RNIP. They have helped fill gaps in sectors such as healthcare, manufacturing and transportation, retail, and hospitality.
Why does RNIP exist?
The majority of newcomers to Canada choose to settle in large urban centres, meaning some areas of Canada do not enjoy the benefits of immigration.
“Rural and northern communities face unique economic and demographic challenges, and the expansion of RNIP announced today makes it that much easier for communities to fill their critical labour market needs,” says Fraser. “They also expand community boundaries so that employers in remote areas can access the program, helping to support economic development and growth in smaller communities across the country.”
Programs such as RNIP aim to incentivize rural communities and potential newcomers to work together to strengthen local economies and support newcomers while they adapt to life in Canada.
The RNIP is based on the success of the Atlantic Immigration Program, which is an employer-driven program that facilitates the hiring of foreign nationals in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. The program has successfully welcomed 167 new permanent residents since the program launched in 2022. IRCC says they believe they can have the same success with an expansion of RNIP.
How to immigrate through the RNIP
Immigrating through RNIP means meeting certain requirements. To start, you must have qualifying work experience or have graduated from a publicly funded post-secondary institution in the recommending community. Work experience must be 1,560 hours in your National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill code occupation, gained within three years before applying.
There are also language and educational requirements as well being able to prove you have enough funds to support yourself while you settle. On top of that, you must be able to prove that you intend to live in the community.
You also need to meet community-specific requirements. These requirements differ in each community so you will have to refer to the official town website of the community you wish to reside in. If you meet all of the requirements, you can start to look for an eligible job in the community.
Once you have a job offer, you can submit your application for recommendation to the community. If a community recommends you, you may apply for permanent residence. A community recommendation usually comes from a designated community economic development organization.