The Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP) is an initiative developed by the Canadian government to support the economic growth and development in the Atlantic provinces, which include Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
This employer driven program launched in 2017 as a pilot and was introduced as a joint effort between federal and provincial governments to attract and retain skilled immigrants to the region. The area has traditionally struggled to boost its population and the AIPP was seen as a way to mitigate the low birth rate and aging population.
After the Pilot was introduced, a study conducted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) concluded AIPP was more successful than the Provincial Nominee Program in retaining immigrants to Atlantic Canada one year after admission. In other words, many of those who arrived in the Atlantic provinces under AIPP stayed in the province and with the employer who supported them. Nova Scotia saw the highest one-year retention rate of any of the provinces with skilled workers and tradespersons (67.6%) retention in 2019.
Given this success, AIPP became a permanent program in 2022. The goal of the program is still to address the labour market needs of the Atlantic provinces and help Atlantic employers in the region find and retain the talent they need to grow their businesses.
Designated Employer Responsibilities
In order to participate in the AIP, employers must first be designated by the provincial government in which their business operates out of. Designation requires an application form with details of the business and labour needs. It also requires the employer to complete two trainings:
Once designated, an employer can make a job offer to a foreign national and must work with a settlement service provider in their area to create a settlement plan for the foreign worker. A Settlement Plan is a mandatory part of the program and includes assisting the worker with finding housing, accessing healthcare, and integrating them into Canadian society prior to their arrival in Canada.
There are a variety of eligibility criteria for a foreign worker to be eligible under AIPP but generally they must have at least one-year work experience in a related occupation (NOC) to one they will be working at in Canada, and have a minimum language proficiency of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French.
Employers must demonstrate they are actively recruiting for the position, and that efforts have been made to hire a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for the job they have offered the foreign worker. AIP can be a pathway for workers inside or outside Canada. If outside Canada, the Designated Employer must demonstrate recruitment efforts. If inside Canada and with valid status (i.e. work permit, PGWP), the employer isn’t generally required to show proof of advertisements.
Once the Designated Employer has made a job offer to the foreign worker and connected them to a settlement service provider, they can submit the application for endorsement to the provincial government. Once the job is endorsed, it allows the foreign worker (and their spouse and dependent children) to apply for Permanent Residency.
In the first year of the program, over 1,800 immigrants were accepted through the AIPP, exceeding the target of 800 for the year. In 2019, over 2,500 immigrants were accepted and the numbers have continued to climb ever since.
The AIP has brought many benefits to the Atlantic provinces. Skilled immigrants have brought new skills and expertise to the region, helping to fuel economic growth and development. They’ve also contributed to the cultural diversity of the region, making it a more vibrant and welcoming place to live.
For more information about the AIP program and how it may apply to you, please reach out to book a consultation.