Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot’s Popularity Soars Before Expiration

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The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), which expires in February next year, has witnessed a sharp uptick in application numbers.

The city of Thunder Bay’s Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has received an unprecedented rise in demand from those looking to settle in the region after immigrating to Canada.

CEDC – which is responsible for administering the Pilot in the city and area – provided applicants with a final opportunity to submit their qualification on November 17.

However, more than 200 applications had been submitted in just one hour of the web portal’s opening, forcing the commission to close further submissions due to the 115-strong application limit on available spots.

“Obviously, candidates were anticipating that this is the final draw for the program,” said CEDC CEO Jamie Taylor.


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“They were all ready to submit their applications as soon as the portal opened. Having only 115 recommendations left for the 2023 and 2024 year, we received more than what we have in terms of space available.”

“The response to this final draw show that there is a great appetite for economic immigration in our region, both from the candidate and the employer side.”

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

RNIP is a community-driven program that is designed to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities by offering a pathway to Canada permanent residence (PR) for skilled foreign workers.

It was initiated three years ago, with the number of applicants accepted locally for the program going from 67 in 2020 to 475 in 2023.

A further 100 spots have been allocated by the government to the region for 2024.


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The steps for applying to this program can be broken down into four parts:

  1. The candidate checks that they meet both
  2. IRCC eligibility requirements and
  3. the community-specific requirements.
  4. The candidate finds an eligible job with an employer in one of the participating communities.
  5. Once they have secured a job offer, they submit their application for recommendation to the community.
  6. If a community recommends them, they can apply for permanent residence.

Each community will also have its own

  • additional eligibility requirements
  • job search process
  • community recommendation application process

Participating Communities Under The Pilot

Community Name Community Website
North Bay, ON https://northbayrnip.ca/
Sudbury, ON https://investsudbury.ca/why-sudbury/move-to-sudbury/rnip/
Timmins, ON www.timminsedc.com
Sault Ste. Marie, ON www.welcometossm.com
Thunder Bay, ON https://gotothunderbay.ca/
Brandon, MB www.economicdevelopmentbrandon.com
Altona/Rhineland, MB www.seedrgpa.com
Moose Jaw, SK https://www.moosejawrnip.ca/
Claresholm, AB www.claresholm.ca
Vernon, BC https://rnip-vernon-northok.ca/
West Kootenay (Trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), BC https://wk-rnip.ca/

Fast Uptake of Applications Shows Appetite for Economic Immigration

Since October 1, more than 160 new applications from local employers have been processed by CEDC. These recruiters are willing to make full-time job offers to immigrants, showing what Taylor calls a “great appetite” for economic immigration in Thunder Bay.

This makes the impending expiration of the program all the more disappointing – a feeling that was expressed by CEDC in a statement reflecting employers’ and candidates’ attitude towards the candidate portal’s closure.

Thunder Bay Has Benefitted Enormously from the Program

As other communities have not been using their quotas fully, writes Rinne, Thunder Bay has benefited from an increased quota for itself the past two years.

“I am absolutely in awe of the immigrants that have come to Thunder Bay in hopes of a better life,” wrote Suzanne Tighe of Nurse Next Door.

“They offer a new perspective, intense dedication, and work especially hard to prove themselves. Employers who do not try to attract foreign workers are missing out on a huge pool of talent.”

RNIP, in fact, helps fill upwards of 300 jobs for Thunder Bay, according to a research paper from the Northern Policy Institute.

Bryanne de Castro Rocha (the paper’s author) found that in a year, RNIP in Thunder Bay generated $11.6 million in wages in the local economy and offered 229 jobs to its applicants; this, in turn, generated an additional 92 jobs in the local economy for 321 jobs after one year.

The paper wrote that immigrants benefit the local economy, as they pay taxes that fund public services, spend their money on “goods, housing and transportation,” stimulating the economy, and provide employers qualified workers.

Therefore, the loss of this program would have multisectoral repercussions – within Thunder Bay and beyond.

The geographic boundary of the RNIP Thunder Bay and Area encompasses Thunder Bay and Rainy River Districts, including the following communities:

  • City of Thunder Bay
  • Town of Atikokan
  • Town of Fort Frances
  • Town of Rainy River
  • City of Dryden
  • Town of Emo
  • Municipality (town) of Greenstone
  • Town of Marathon
  • Township of Dorion
  • Township of Manitouwadge
  • Township of Nipigon
  • Township of Schreiber
  • Township of Terrace Bay
  • Township of Red Rock
  • Municipality of Sioux Lookout
  • Township of Ignace
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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.