Newcomers play a huge role in Canada’s continued economic success. In fact, Canada relies on immigration programs to attract foreign talent and bridge gaps in the local labour market. Over the last few years, the government has introduced several new immigration programs, including Provincial Nominee Programs and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), that encourage newcomers to move to regions in Canada where their skills are most in demand.
The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) is a new immigration pathway that allows newcomers to move to one of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador. In this article, we provide an overview of the eligibility criteria and application process for immigrating to Canada as a permanent resident (PR) through the AIP.
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Want to explore other immigration options? Download our guide on immigrating to Canada for an overview of available PR programs.
What is the Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)?
The Atlantic Immigration Program is a federal program that allows skilled foreign workers and international students who’ve studied in Canada to permanently settle and work in one of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (NB), Prince Edward Island (PEI), or Newfoundland and Labrador (NL).
This new PR pathway replaces the successful Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which ended on December 31, 2021. Like the pilot, the Atlantic Immigration Program is employer-driven and aims to address labour needs in the four provinces by helping employers fill positions they haven’t been able to find skilled candidates for locally.
Who can apply for the AIP?
You can apply for the Atlantic Immigration Program if you are a foreign skilled worker in Canada or abroad, or have recently graduated from a recognized post-secondary institution (university or college) in Atlantic Canada. However, to participate in the program, you require a valid job offer from a designated employer in one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces.
In addition, you need to meet certain work experience, educational requirements, language skills criteria, and prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family in Canada.
Work experience requirements for the Atlantic Immigration Program
You will only qualify for the AIP if your work experience, Canadian or foreign, meets all of the following criteria:
- You must have at least 1,560 hours of employment in the last five years (approximately equal to 30 hours per week for one year). This can include hours worked in full-time or part-time jobs, including hours worked while studying.
- Your experience is in a TEER 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 (previously Skill Type 0, Skill level A, B, or C) National Occupational Classification (NOC) job. Your work experience must match the job duties specified for that NOC.
- Your work experience was paid. Unpaid internships, volunteer experience, and self-employed work do not count.
If you’re an international student who studied in Canada, you don’t need to meet the work experience requirements, provided you:
- Completed at least a two-year degree, diploma, certificate, or trade or apprenticeship certification from a recognized post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada.
- Were a full-time student for the entire duration of your study program.
- Lived in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador for at least 16 months in the last two years before your graduation.
- Were in Canada legally and had a valid visa or permit to study or work in Canada.
Educational requirements for the AIP
To qualify for the Atlantic Immigration program, you must meet one of the following educational requirements:
- If your job offer is for a NOC TEER 0 or 1 (previously Skill type 0 or skill level A), you must have at least a one-year Canadian post-secondary educational credential (or foreign equivalent).
- If your job offer is for a NOC TEER 2, 3, or 4 (previously B or C skill level), you must have at least a Canadian high school diploma (or foreign equivalent).
Other eligibility criteria for the Atlantic Immigration Program
Language skill requirement
The minimum language requirements are based on the NOC category for your job offer and can be either Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB, for English) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC, for French) levels.
- For a NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously skill type 0 or skill level A or B) occupation, you need at least a CLB/NCLC 5.
- For a NOC TEER 4 (previously skill level C) occupation, you must have at least a CLB/NCLC 4.
Proof of settlement funds
You must have enough money to support yourself and your family during your first few months in Canada. The settlement funds requirement varies based on the size of your family, regardless of whether they are accompanying you to Canada.
For individuals who aren’t supporting any family members, the settlement funds requirement is $3,439 CAD. For a family of two, it’s $4,281 CAD. These amounts are updated every year, so be sure to check the government’s website before submitting your application.
Note that you don’t need to show proof of funds if you’re already working in Canada with a valid work permit.
||Tip: While deciding how much money to bring with you, it’s a good idea to research your estimated monthly expenses in your future city and plan accordingly. Use Arrive’s cost of living calculator to create a budget for your first few months in Canada.
Finding a job with a designated Atlantic employer in Canada
Preparing for your job search in Canada? Download our guide on finding your career in Canada to learn about how to create a resume, look for job opportunities, network, and prepare for interviews.
As part of the Atlantic Immigration Program’s application process, you need a job offer from a designated employer in one of the four Atlantic provinces. You can find a list of employers authorized to hire candidates under the AIP, as well as available job openings, on the provincial websites listed below:
Requirements for a job offer under the AIP
To be eligible for the AIP, your job offer must meet certain criteria:
- It must be for a full-time job involving at least 30 hours of paid work per week.
- The job must be non-seasonal, with consistent and regular work throughout the year.
- For NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, or 3 (previously Skill type 0 or Skill level A or B) employment, the job offer must be for at least one year from the time you become a permanent resident.
- For NOC TEER 4 (previously Skill level C) employment, the job offer must be permanent, without a specified end date.
- The job offer must not be from a company where you or your spouse is a majority owner.
- The job offer must be for a similar or higher skill level as your qualifying work experience. Exceptions exist for international graduates and certain jobs in the healthcare sector.
When you receive a job offer from a designated Atlantic employer, the employer will ask you to sign an Offer of Employment to a Foreign National Form. You’ll need to keep a copy of the form for your PR application. You will also need to ask your employer for a copy of their Confirmation of Designation.
Applying for PR under the Atlantic Immigration Program
Gather essential documents for your PR application
It’s best to start the process of gathering your documents early to avoid delays in your PR application through the AIP. Some of the essential documents you need include:
- Language test results: All applicants, including those who studied in Canada, need to take an approved language test to prove their proficiency in English, French, or both. Your CLB/NCLC results must meet the minimum language requirements for your job offer.
- Education Credential Assessment (ECA): If your education was obtained outside Canada, you’ll need an educational credential assessment to verify that your credentials are equal to or higher than the required level for your NOC.
- Proof of work experience: To prove you have qualifying work experience, you need to submit employer work reference letters, work contracts, or pay stubs. If you’ve worked in Canada in the past, you also need to provide a copy of your work permit and T4 tax information slips. International graduates from designated institutions in Atlantic Canada are exempt from work experience requirements.
- Proof of settlement funds: Unless you’re already working in Canada on a valid work permit, you need to provide bank statements or documentation from your financial institution to prove you have sufficient funds to provide for yourself and your family in Canada.
- Offer of Employment to a Foreign National – AIP (IMM 0157): Your designated employer will complete this form and provide you with a copy.
- Use of a representative (IMM 5476), if required: You need this form if you hire an immigration consultant or other paid or unpaid representative to submit your application.
- Proof of temporary residence status: If you’re already in Canada, you need to submit a copy of your work or study permit.
- Identity and other personal documents: You may need other documents such as birth certificates, your marriage or divorce certificate, etc.
- Police certification: You need a criminal background check from your local law enforcement officials.
Get your settlement plan
Once you have a job offer from an employer in Atlantic Canada, you need a settlement plan for your AIP application. Your designated employer can provide recommendations for settlement service providers. Alternatively, based on whether you’re inside or outside of Canada, you can choose a settlement service provider listed on the government’s website.
The settlement service provider organization will evaluate your assets and requirements based on the information you provide and create a personalized settlement plan for you. Your settlement plan will help you adjust to your new life in Canada and provide information about free services available in your new community.
You’ll need to share a copy of your settlement plan with your employer, who will send it to the province along with their endorsement application. Remember to bring your settlement plan along with you when you move to Canada.
||Note: Settlement service providers cannot help you find a job in Canada. You should only contact them once you have a formal job offer from a designated Atlantic employer.
Get a Certificate of Endorsement
With your settlement plan in hand, your employer needs to get your job offer endorsed by the province. You cannot submit your permanent residence application until your job offer has been endorsed.
Once the province endorses your job offer, you’ll receive a Certificate of Endorsement to attach with your PR application.
Complete your application for PR and pay the application fees
Carefully review the instruction guide and document checklist (IMM 0155) before you complete your PR application. Be sure to complete all required sections accurately and honestly.
You need to pay the application fees, including the biometrics fee, before submitting the application. You can pay the fees online using your email address and a debit or credit card. Remember to print a copy of the receipt and attach it to your completed application.
Submit your application
You can submit your permanent residence application online, or by mail or courier. To submit your application through regular mail or courier, follow the mailing instructions provided by the government. Be sure to include a copy of your payment receipt along with your printed and signed application.
To apply online, create an account on the PR online application portal. You can fill out the Generic Application Form for Canada (IMM 0008), Schedule A – Background/Declaration (IMM 5669), Additional Family Information (IMM 5406), and Supplementary Information – Your travels (IMM 5562) forms digitally and upload the remaining forms to your online application in PDF format. You don’t need to print or sign any of the forms by hand (unless a form requires a third-party signature). The Canadian government is working to digitize its immigration application system and reduce processing times, so applying online may be faster and easier.
Waiting for a response on your application
Once you submit your application, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will review it. If your application is complete, it will be placed into processing and you’ll receive a letter or email with your IRCC office file number and information on the next steps.
An IRCC officer will then review your application in detail, assess it against the selection standards, and make a decision. At this stage, you may receive instructions on appearing for a medical test at an authorized centre in your country.
If your application is approved, you’ll receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR). If you’re outside Canada, IRCC will send you instructions on how to submit your biometrics and get a visa stamped on your passport. You’ll receive your PR card in the mail a few weeks after you arrive in Canada.
Applying for a temporary work permit while awaiting your PR approval
It can take some time for your PR application to be processed and approved. However, you may be eligible to apply for a temporary work permit that allows you to work in Canada while you await a response on your PR application.
This work permit is specifically for applicants under the Atlantic Immigration Program and only allows you to work for a designated Atlantic employer who has offered you a job. The temporary work permit will be valid for one year, and you must submit your PR application within 90 days of applying for a work permit.
To qualify for a work permit, you need:
- An eligible job offer from a designated Atlantic Canada employer.
- A referral letter from the province where you’ll be working.
- Other documents, including your language test results, educational credentials, and proof of work experience.
Getting a temporary work permit while you wait for your PR application to be processed is optional. However, if you accept a job offer from an Atlantic employer and intend to start working before your PR is approved, you’ll require a work permit.
What is the application fee for AIP?
The application fee for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot is $1,365 CAD per adult. This includes an $850 CAD application processing fee and a $515 CAD fee for the right of permanent residence. If you apply for the AIP with your family, an additional fee of $230 CAD will apply per dependent child.
In addition, you also need to pay a biometrics fee of $85 CAD per individual or $170 CAD per family, as well as the cost for medical examinations, which vary by country.
What is the processing time for AIP applications?
According to the government website, the current processing time for PR applications under the AIP program is 12 months. However, processing times can vary based on the volume of applications received, whether your application is complete, how easy it is to verify your information, and other factors.
Canada offers several avenues for newcomers to move to Canada as permanent residents. If you’re planning to move to one of Canada’s Atlantic provinces, the AIP is an excellent pathway to explore. While the application process can be a little daunting, if you carefully review the eligibility criteria and follow the application instructions, you may be able to fulfill your dream of settling in Atlantic Canada.