Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot Extended, Pleasing Thunder Bay Business Leaders

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Rural And Northern Immigration Pilot Extended, Pleasing Thunder Bay Business Leaders
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An extension to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) has thrilled Thunder Bay’s business leaders and economic development officers.

“Thrilled to see the extension and expansion of the RNIP for Thunder Bay and other regional communities,” tweeted Charla Robinson, president of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.

“Thanks to Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC), chamber network and Leah Nord for being part of the many voices that advocated our Members of Parliament and Immigration Minister Sean Fraser for this change.


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This year, the economic development commission has already recommended 175 candidates for permanent residence, putting it on track to at least meet its target of 250 recommended candidates this year and likely ensuring an increase in its allotment for next year. 

With the extension, Fraser also announced several improvements starting this autumn with the RNIP supporting community partners, employers and candidates by:

  • expanding the geographic boundaries of seven of the participating communities, including North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay, Moose Jaw, West Kootenay and Vernon;
  • making it easier to fill labour market needs in the healthcare 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;
  • helping community partners provide greater support to candidates and employers;
  • reducing the amount of settlement funds participants are required to have, and;
  • strengthening the program’s integrity.

“Rural and northern communities face unique economic and demographic challenges, and the expansion of RNIP announced … makes it that much easier for communities to fill their critical labour market needs,” said Fraser earlier this year.

RNIP Allowed 1,130 Newcomers to Settle in 11 Communities in the First Half of 2022

“They also expand community boundaries so employers in remote areas can access the program, helping to support economic development and growth in smaller communities across the country.”

Within the first six months of this year, 1,130 newcomers had settled in one of the 11 RNIP communities, which also include Sault Ste. Marie, Brandon, Altona/Rhineland and Claresholm.

The RNIP, which is modelled on the highly-successful Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP), has a ceiling cap of 2,750 principal applicants per year.


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The program, which encourages foreign nationals applying for permanent residence to settle in rural regions of the country, has been a boon for employers there looking for workers and is growing in popularity.

In the first year of the RNIP, in 2020, Canada welcomed 50 new permanent residents through the program. Last year, that skyrocketed to 555, a growth of 1,010 per cent. 

Under the RNIP, communities must have the following:

  • a population of 50,000 or less and be located at least 75 km from the downtown of a major city, or;
  • a population of up to 200,000 people and be considered remote from other, larger cities.

Foreign nationals who want to immigrate to Canada through the RNIP need to meet both federal and community-specific eligibility requirements, get a job with an employer in a participating community, submit an application for a recommendation from the community, and then apply for permanent residence.

Ottawa requires RNIP applicants to have either qualifying work experience or a diploma or degree from a college or university in the community.

1,560 Hours Of Full-Time, Paid Work Needed Under The RNIP Criteria

The required work experience has to be the equivalent of one year of paid, full-time work, 1,560 hours, in the same occupation but can have been gained by working part-time jobs over the last three years. The applicant then has to demonstrate he or she did all of the main and essential duties listed in the National Occupational Classification (NOC) system’s description for that occupation.

International students can be exempt from that requirement for work experience if they were studying as full-time undergrads for the full duration of two or more years in a college or university in the recommending community and graduated no more than 18 months before applying for permanent residence. 

In that case, they have to have been living in the community for at least 16 months during the two years of their studies.

Those international students who graduated with a master’s degree or higher are also exempt from the requirement to have work experience provided they spent the duration of their studies in the community and graduated no more than 18 months before applying for permanent residence.

Although a break on work experience is given to candidates who have post-secondary education, foreign nationals can apply to the RNIP with no more than a high school diploma or an equivalent foreign credential with an accredited educational credential assessment (ECA) report.

All candidates under the RNIP must meet the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) level required under the NOC for their job. The RNIP demands language skills of CLB/NCLC 6 for NOC 0 and A level jobs, language skills of CLB/NCLC 5 for those jobs in the NOC B category, and CLB/NCLC 4 for the NOC C and D occupations.

In a bid to ensure immigrants to Canada under this program will not be a burden to the country’s public safety net, applicants are also required to show they have enough money to take care of themselves and any dependants.

“You must show that you have enough money to support yourself and your family after you get to Canada unless you’re already working in Canada with a valid work permit,” notes the IRCC.

“You can’t borrow this money from another person. You must be able to use this money to pay the costs of living for your family (even if they’re not coming with you).”

Acceptable proof of these funds can consist of:

  • bank account statements;
  • documents that show real property or other investments (such as stocks, bonds, debentures, treasury bills, etc.), or;
  • documents that guarantee payment of a set amount of money payable to the recipient (such as banker’s drafts, cheques, traveller’s cheques or money orders).
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