EXTENDED: Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program for Permanent Residence

Since 2020, foreign workers in the Agri-Food industry were able to apply for permanent residence under a (then) new pilot program which was set to end May 2023. Today, the Government of Canada has extended this pilot program to run until May 14, 2025. The Government of Canada has also indicated that they will revise the program to:

  • Remove the annual occupational caps, or the limits for how many candidates can apply for a specific occupation under the pilot. Instead there is an overall annual cap of 2750 applicants for the program (regardless of individual occupations of applicants). The applications are processed on a first come, first served basis until the cap is reached, starting January 1 of each year.
  • expand open work permit access to family members of all participants in the Agri-Food Pilot—regardless of the participant’s job skill level.
  • allow unions to attest to a candidate’s work experience, as an alternative to employer reference letters.
  • give applicants residing in Canada more options to meet the eligibility requirements
  • accept work experience gained under an open work permit for vulnerable workers (otherwise, work experience gained under an open work permit does not count for eligibility in this program).

The majority of the current eligibility criteria and industries and occupations are able to benefit from this program does not appear to be changing.

Currently, 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)
  2. Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114)
  3. Animal production, excluding aquaculture (NAICS 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124 or 1129)

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 (www.mccuaig.com).

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