Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program Witnesses Early Successes
As the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program (AIPP) gains momentum in the early weeks of its implementation, further details are emerging about the program’s operation and popularity. On Friday, March 31, 2017, Canada’s Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced that 50 employers have already been designated to recruit foreign workers and international graduates to become Canadian permanent residents through the AIPP, adding that the program was “off to a good start.”
The AIPP is a new three-year immigration pilot program for the Atlantic provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Newfoundland and Labrador. These four provinces together aim to welcome up to 2,000 principal applicants and their families in 2017.
The AIPP is divided into three streams:
The Atlantic High-Skilled Program (AHSP)
The Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program (AISP)
The Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP)
An employer-driven initiative
The AIPP is employer-driven, meaning that a potential candidate must first obtain a job offer from a designated employer in order to be eligible to apply. Each provincial government is responsible for designating employers located within that province.
This process of designation is a new development particular to the AIPP. However, a representative of the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration said that, from the point of view of a foreign national seeking employment in the Atlantic provinces, the job search process has not changed significantly. Individuals interested in working in the Atlantic provinces are encouraged to use the resources available to them — including online resources such as the Canada Visa Job Search Tool, or the Canadian government’s Job Bank — to begin their search for a Canadian job.
Interestingly, employers do not have to undertake the process of obtaining a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) – a document that proves that no Canadian citizen or permanent resident was ready, willing, and able to fill the position – before hiring a foreign worker through the program.
“I’m pleased to say we are off to a good start,” said Hussen at an event on March 31 announcing the pilot program’s progress. “Employers have been keen to get involved and provinces have started to receive applications from employers who wish to participate in the pilot. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners – including provincial governments, employers and settlement service provider organizations – as we move forward with this dynamic component of Canada’s Atlantic Growth Strategy.”
The Settlement Plan
Another interesting feature of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program Witnesses Early Successes is the requirement for a settlement plan, developed in conjunction with a recognized settlement provider in the destination province. The employer also commits to providing assistance with the settlement process, and connects the candidate with a settlement service provider organization. The settlement plan connects newcomers to services in the region that can assist with integration and long-term settlement.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) states that “the goal of the three-year pilot is to help attract and retain skilled immigrants in Atlantic Canada.”
Gerry Mills, Executive Director of settlement service provider Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS), told CICNews.com that there has been significant interest in the pilot program already, and they have directed many calls to the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration.
“Our role is to provide information to the employer around what settlement services are, because it’s an employer-driven pilot,” she explained.
Settlement service providers such as ISANS “meet with [the potential] employee plus adult family members, to develop those individual settlement plans,” Mills continued, pointing out that these meetings could be with people who are already in the province on temporary permits, or with candidates outside Canada.
So far, ISANS has developed a number of settlement plans, and is expecting to develop many more such plans over time. “We’re still at the very beginning stages,” Mills said.
An innovative first
IRCC called this collaborative style of drawing up settlement plans “an innovative first” in Canadian immigration policy. It is expected that this requirement will accelerate the settlement of newcomers to Atlantic Canada.
“The immigration process doesn’t end at the point of entry into Canada, as integration is equally important,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“For many newcomers to Canada, the integration and settlement process can be both exciting, and challenging. Implementing measures to ease the transition for new Canadians and their families is a welcome addition to this unique immigration program, and, if successful, could prove a model for other programs across Canada. It is great to hear that the Immigration Minister is personally invested in this new program and is providing updates – long may that continue.”