Opening On Sunday: Canada’s Newly-Permanent Atlantic Immigration Program

Nova Scotia Immigration: Province Given 15 Ways It Can Improve Its Provincial System
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Canada immigration news: Canada’s newly-announced Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) is going to start taking applications this Sunday from skilled foreign workers and international graduates hoping to get their permanent residence in one of the four Atlantic Canadian provinces.

The permanent pathway to immigration for the Atlantic Canadian provinces on the country’s eastern shores was announced late last year. 

It builds on the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program which successfully attracted growing numbers of foreign nationals to those provinces.

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“Over the past few years, the Atlantic Immigration Pilot has made an incredible difference in communities across our region,” said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser in mid-December last year. 

“It has brought us the resource we need most: more people,” he said. “They’re skilled, they’re young and they’re staying. Now, we’re doubling down on what works by making it permanent, so we can continue attracting the best and brightest to our region and build a vibrant, prosperous future for Atlantic Canada.”

Newfoundland – And Other Atlantic Provinces – Eager To Welcome Immigrants

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey is bullish on immigration.

“Immigration offers solutions to the economic, demographic and social challenges facing Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said.

“The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program has proven to be a success for employers and newcomers, and we will build on that success with the now permanent program. Employers seeking to fill positions, and newcomers seeking opportunities, are receiving unprecedented support from our government and we look forward to continuing that important work.”

On March 6, skilled foreign workers and international graduates with endorsements who are hoping to settle in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island will be able to apply under the Atlantic Immigration Program.

The permanent program retains the three features which made the pilot such a success: a focus on employers, enhanced settlement support and a collaborative approach across all Atlantic provinces.

Changes to the new AIP include a clarification of the roles of partners and enhanced employer support through training and the strengthening of program requirements to ensure newcomers can successfully establish themselves in the region.

“The Atlantic Immigration Pilot’s great success for Newfoundland and Labrador resulted from it being both flexible and precise in responding to our province’s challenges in attracting newcomers,” said Newfoundland and Labrador Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne. “2021 will be the first year that targets were not only met, but exceeded.

Atlantic Immigration Program Job Offers Must Get Provincial Endorsement

Under the AIP, there are three programs:

The Atlantic High-Skilled Program is aimed at skilled workers with management, professional or technical/skilled job experience with job offers of at least one year.

Those with offers for permanent jobs requiring a high school education and/or job-specific training can apply under the Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program.

The Atlantic International Graduate Program is aimed at candidates who have a degree, diploma or another credential from a publicly-funded institution in an Atlantic province and an offer for a job that will last at least one year but no work experience.

Each job offer made through the AIP requires provincial endorsement. The application for endorsement is handled by the employer after the candidate has their Settlement Plan.

Applicants are eligible to apply under the Atlantic Immigration Program if they:

  • have qualifying work experience, unless they are international graduates of a recognized post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada;
  • meet or exceed the educational requirements;
  • meet or exceed the language requirements;
  • show they have enough money to support themselves and their families when they get to Canada, unless they are already living and working in Canada with a valid work permit.

All applicants have to have worked at least 1,560 hours in the past five years, the equivalent number of hours had they worked for one year at 30 hours per week.

Work Experience Must Be From Paid Jobs, Excludes Self-Employment

This work experience can include both part-time and full-time jobs, but only those that were paid, both inside and outside of Canada. Volunteer positions and unpaid internships do not count – and neither do hours where the applicant was self-employed.

This work should be at one of these National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill levels:

  • NOC Skill Type 0 (management jobs such as restaurant managers, mine managers);
  • NOC Skill Level A (professional jobs that usually need a degree from a university, such as doctors, dentists, architects);
  • NOC Skill Level B (technical jobs and skilled trades such as chefs, electricians, plumbers), or;
  • NOC Skill Level C (intermediate jobs that usually call for high school and/or job-specific training, such as industrial butchers, long-haul truck drivers, food and beverage servers).

International graduates are exempt from this work experience requirement provided they were full-time students hold the appropriate study permits while pursing degrees, diplomas, certificates, or trade or apprenticeship certifications that took at least two years of studies and are from a recognized post-secondary institution in one of the Atlantic provinces.

Those applicants who are applying with a job offer at the NOC 0 or A skill type or level, must have a Canadian one-year post-secondary educational credential or higher, or the equivalent outside Canada.

Those with a job offer at the NOC B or C skill level, must have a Canadian high school diploma, or the equivalent outside Canada.

Educational credential assessments (ECA) are needed to confirm that the studies of applicants who got their education outside of Canada are equal to or higher than the required level of education for the job offer. That ECA report must be less than five years old on the date Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives the application.

All applicants must meet the minimum language requirements based on the NOC category which applies to their job offer. This can either be the:

  • Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or
  • Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC)

The minimum language requirements for each NOC category are:

  • CLB/NCLC 5 for NOC 0, A and B
  • CLB/NCLC 4 for NOC C

These results from the designated language testing organization must be submitted with the application and must be less than two years old.

The required settlement funds to support the applicant and his or her family when they arrive in Canada depend on the size of that family and anyone the applicant is supporting financially who is not immigrating with him or her.

Healthcare Workers Can Apply For Jobs Different Than Their Work Experience

Under the AIP, only full-time jobs where the applicant will be working a minimum of 30 hours per week qualify. Seasonal jobs don’t count. 

For NOC 0, A or B skill type job offers, the employer must offer a job that will last at least one year. For NOC C skill level job offers, the employer must be offered permanent employment.

And these jobs offers cannot come from a company where the applicant or his or her spouse is a majority owner.

As a rule, the job offer must also be at the same skill level as, or higher than, the work experience that qualified the applicant for the job, unless he or she is an international graduate from a recognized post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada.

A notable exception to that rule is the healthcare sector. For certain health care sector jobs, applicants do not need to have a job offer at the same skill level as, or higher than, the qualifying work experience.

Work experience as a practical nurse or registered nurse, for example, can be used as qualifying work experience for a job offer as a nurse’s aide, an orderly, patient service associate or home healthcare worker.

When a designated employer offers a job, they are to give the applicant an Offer of Employment to a Foreign National form.

The applicant then takes that form and: 

  • makes sure he or she meets the employment requirements listed in the National Occupational Classification;
  • signs the form titled Offer of Employment to a Foreign National and keep a copy for his or her records, and;
  • asks for a copy of the employer’s Confirmation of Designation, or tells them about the AIP and asks them to consider becoming designated, if they aren’t already.

After getting a job offer from a designated employer, the applicant needs to get a free settlement plan to help them and their family adjust to their new home in Atlantic Canada. It provides useful resources and contacts to help the applicant feel welcome in his or her new community.

Those applicants already in Canada can work with a settlement service provider organization in the region where they hope to be working. 

There are several settlement service provider organizations in Canada that those applicants who live outside of Canada can contact. 

Once the applicant has a settlement plan, they should give a copy to their employer and keep a copy for themselves. If they are not yet in Canada, they should bring the plan with them when they move to Canada.

IRCC Recommends Paying Permanent Residence Fee Of $500 Up Front

Each Atlantic Canadian province is responsible for providing endorsements of these applications. That part of the process is handled by the employer.  Once the province has endorsed the job offer, the applicant gets a Certificate of Endorsement in the mail and that should be included with the permanent residence application.

Fees under the AIP include:

Application processing fee


Right of permanent residence fee


Spouse or partner processing fee 


Spouse or partner right of permanent residence fee 


Including a dependent child

$225 (per child)

Biometrics (per person)


Biometrics (per family of 2 or more people applying at the same time and place)


Once a complete application is mailed in to the IRCC, the applicant is sent a letter or e-mail that:

  • notifies them of this fact and provides them with their IRCC office file number;
  • sets out some basic instructions for contact with the IRCC office processing their file, and;
  • gives them a brief outline of future processing steps.

All applicants and their family members must pass a medical exam in order to become a permanent resident of Canada to ensure they do not have a condition that: 

  • is a danger to public health or safety, or;
  • would cause excessive demand for health or social services in Canada. 
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