Immigration

Eligibility Requirements Adjusted for Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

Increased flexibility in Rural and Northern Immigration Plans announced as Minister Mendicino welcomes the first two individuals to get their Canadian permanent residency through RNIP. The two newcomers are settling in the community of Sault Ste. Marie and will be working as nurses.


Since announcing the 2021-2023 Immigration Levels Plan, the Canadian government has issued a flurry of immigration related announcements facilitating the immigration process and increasing the number of new immigrants being admitted into Canada.

On December 14 2020, the Honorable Marco Mendicino, Canada’s Minister of Immigration announced two new changes to Canada’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP).

As one of the eligibility requirements for the RNIP, candidates have to demonstrate one year of work experience. Previously, the one year had to be completed over a continued period of time, with no breaks in between. The program will now accept work experience totaling to one year (1,560 hours) or more, accumulated over a period of three years.

The change will be applicable to candidates who have already submitted an application as well as new applicants. This flexibility ensures people who lost their jobs or had unexpected work interruptions will not be penalized.

Secondly, because of processing delays caused by the pandemic, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced that RNIP applicants who are currently waiting for a decision on their permanent residency can apply for a work permit without any penalties.

In addition to these two announcements, Minister Mendicino also welcomed  Canada’s first two permanent residents accepted under the RNIP; Alexander Nangpukin Likilasua and Brilla Mercy Kunjumon. They are settled in Sault Ste. Marie and are working as nurses.

The RNIP at a Glance:

The Rural and Norther Immigration Pilot is community driven and designed to benefit smaller communities economically. More often than not, immigrants choose to settle into larger cities and communities where there are more job opportunities.

Through the RNIP, smaller communities become more attractive to skilled foreign workers since it’s a quicker path to permanent residency and they can get jobs suited to their skillset right away. 

So far, the pilot program has been launched in eleven rural communities across Canada:

  • North Bay, ON
  • Sudbury, ON
  • Timmins, ON
  • Sault Ste. Marie, ON
  • Thunder Bay, ON
  • Brandon, MB
  • Altona / Rhineland, MB
  • Moose Jaw, SK
  • Claresholm, AB
  • Vernon, BC
  • West Kootenay, BC

Newcomers to Canada who arrive under this program also benefit from settlement and mentoring services and are quickly made to feel at home and belonging to a community.

While these the new changes will facilitate the process for many, candidates will still need to meet all the other admissibility requirements.

Canadian Economy and Immigrants

The pandemic highlighted just how important immigrants are to Canada and its economy.

“Newcomers have played an outsized role in our hospitals and long-term care homes during the pandemic. They also account for roughly one in four of Canada’s practical nurses… and one in three of our family doctors and pharmacists.”

Minister Marco Mendicino

The sentiment was echoed by the Honourable Maryam Monsef, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development who believes

“Strong economies in rural Canada benefit all Canadians…and the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot will create jobs and increase Canada’s competitive advantage.”

Minister Maryam Monsef

Given the important role immigrants play in Canada’s economic and cultural growth, it is no surprise that the Canadian government is actively working to increase the number of immigrants over the next few years. 

It will be interesting to see what 2021 brings!

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