Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program for Permanent Residence

Temporary foreign workers working in Canada’s Agri-Food Sector play an important role in maintaining the country’s food security. In recognizing that reality, the federal government has designed a pilot program for agricultural and agri-food workers to become permanent residents to Canada. The Government of Canada has indicated that this new pilot program is designed to:

  1. help address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector; and
  2. attract experienced, non-seasonal workers who can settle in Canada permanently.

The opening of this pilot program has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now set to open May 15, 2020 and to run until May 2023.

While we expect to receive more details about the pilot program when it opens on May 15, 2020, we already know basic information regarding which industries and occupations will be able to benefit from this new program.

An individual who wishes to apply for Canadian permanent residence through the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot needs to be admissible to Canada and must meet the following criteria:

  1. have eligible Canadian work experience;
  2. have a qualifying job offer from a Canadian employer in one of the eligible industries and occupations for the pilot;
  3. meet the minimum language requirements (CLB/NCLC Level 4);
  4. meet the minimum educational requirements (Canadian school diploma or equivalent foreign credential); and
  5. have enough money to settle in Canada and to support your family (subject to certain exceptions).

Eligible Canadian work experience is at least one year of non-seasonal full-time (1,560 hours) work in the last three years in an eligible occupation for the pilot. Further, this eligible work experience must have been completed under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program – this means that your employer must have obtained a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) for a minimum of 12 months when they hired you for the position.

Eligible industries and eligible occupations for this Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are:

  1. Meat product manufacturing (NAICS 3116)
    • NOC B 6331 – Retail butchers
    • NOC C 9462 – Industrial butchers
    • NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • NOC D 9617 – Food processing labourers
  2. Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114)
    • NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • NOC C 8431 – General farm workers
    • NOC D 8611 – Harvesting labourers
  3. Animal production, excluding aquaculture (NAICS 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124 or 1129)
    • NOC B 8252 – Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • NOC C 8431 – General farm workers

The government has also announced that the applications will be processed on a first-come, first served basis, and there will be annual limits on the number of applications that are processed for each eligible occupation. These limits will be adjusted in 2020 and in 2023 based on the number of months the program remains open for those years.

The limits currently announced for each eligible occupation are:

Job offer to work as a Number of applications accepted per year
Farm supervisor or specialized livestock worker (NOC B 8252) 50
Industrial butcher (NOC C 9462) or retail butcher (NOC B 6331) 1470
Food processing labourers (NOC D 9617) 730
General farm worker (NOC C 8431) 200
Harvesting labourer (NOC D 8611) 300

While the details of the Agri-Food Pilot Program has not yet been released, the above information provides a snapshot as to who is expected to benefit from this program in the next three years. As the program has application caps, it is always important to apply early in the program year in order to increase your chances of having your application accepted.

If you are a temporary foreign worker that works in one of the above listed eligible occupations; Or an employer under one of the eligible occupations with Temporary foreign workers that may wish to apply for permanent residence, you may contact us to discuss further and determine admissibility and eligibility under this pilot.

Céline Bégin is a partner at McCuaig Desrochers LLP, a general practice law firm with Edmonton’s largest group of immigration lawyers.

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