4 Key Words for Immigration to Canada in 2024: (3) Pilot Program

We've been covering four key topics for immigration to Canada in 2024, and so far we've talked about early childhood teachers and regional selection as alternatives. Today, we'll discuss the third topic, which could be a niche strategy: pilot programs.

Canada runs pilot programs to test new immigration policies and processes to determine if they should be made into a regular program. Pilot programs last for a certain amount of time, and because they are temporary, the application requirements are sometimes easier than usual, so they are often recommended for those who have difficulty accessing existing immigration programs. This year in particular, there are many programs that are coming to an end, making us wonder if they will be regularized or if they will just end. Let's take a look at what programs are still available and whether they will be regularized.

The flagship pilot program currently available is the Agri-Food Pilot. This immigration pathway was implemented to address labor shortages in the agri-food sector and is designed to provide permanent residency to workers in areas such as meat processing, mushrooms, greenhouse crops, and livestock raising. Non-seasonal workers with experience in these fields are eligible to apply, and the requirements can be summarized as follows. First, you must have work experience in Canada in an eligible industry and occupation, and it must be non-seasonal and through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Second, you must have a valid job offer from a Canadian employer in an eligible industry and occupation. Third, you must meet minimum language and education requirements. Finally, you must have sufficient funds to settle in Canada, or if you are already in Canada, you must have a valid temporary resident status.

The program has clear industry and occupation criteria: you must work as a butcher, livestock worker, food and beverage processing worker, mushroom producer, or harvest worker in industries such as meat product manufacturing, mushroom or greenhouse food cultivation, or livestock ranching to be eligible. The most notable of these is butcher work. Butchers are in high demand because they have relatively low barriers to entry, and they can work in a variety of urban or suburban areas, including Korean butcher shops that cater to Koreans and butcher shops in large supermarkets.

In addition, the Agri-Food Pilot will run until May 14, 2025, an extension from the initially planned end date of March 2023, based on labor market needs, and the program has undergone some revisions to benefit applicants. We've removed the previous annual cap on the number of applicants per occupation, made it possible to issue open work permits to family members of applicants, allowed unions to verify candidate work experience in lieu of employer references, and made it easier for Canadian resident applicants to apply by allowing them to choose between job offers with wage requirements and academic credentials.
Each year, up to 2,750 main applicants and their family members can apply for permanent residency through the Agri-Food Pilot, which requires applicants to confirm their eligibility and then gather the necessary documents, including documents to prove work experience, an Education Credential Assessment (ECA) report, language proficiency test results, an offer of employment, a medical examination report, and a criminal background check, and apply online or by mail. With the extension of the program, many restrictions have been removed, making it a viable path to permanent residency.

On the other hand, there are programs that are set to end. These include RNIP, the Home Child Care Provider Pilot, and the Home Support Worker Pilot, all of which were implemented in 2019 and are set to end in 2024. The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) was Canada's regionally-focused immigration program that provided a pathway to permanent residency for people who wanted to live in smaller areas, particularly small towns. In BC, this included the West Kootenay and Vernon, and the West Kootenay has already closed. The Home Child Care Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot are also closed except for the main pathway for those with more than 12 months of experience. These programs are designed for applicants who work as caregivers and have a goal of obtaining permanent residency and are eligible to apply if they have worked as a valid Canadian job offer for at least 12 months. The end date is June 2024, and while there are mixed opinions about regularization, nothing has been officially set yet.

The pilot program is a niche program that's worth a shot, and most seem to be wrapping up for the year. The Agri-Food Pilot, which is still open, is also close to ending, so I think taking advantage of the opportunity before then will be a strategic way to get a green card. We'll also have to wait and see if the programs that are ending will become regular programs.