With a population of almost 35 million people, over 22% of Canadians consider French as their first official language. The majority of Francophones – those who speak French as a first language - live in the province of Quebec (85.4%) and over 32% live in New Brunswick. In fact, the province of New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province under the Canadian Constitution meaning the French language is federally and provincially protected.
To increase the French population and promote Francophone immigration, IRCC has created an exemption from the traditional Labour Market Impact Assessment which allows eligible foreign nationals to obtain a work permit from a Canadian employer (under paragraph 205(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR)). This is known as the:
International Mobility Program (IMP): Canadian interests – Significant benefit – Mobilité Francophone [R205(a)] (exemption code C16)
The purpose of this exemption code is to “encourage the development of minority official language communities in Canada. Promoting the use of French outside Quebec strengthens and supports the social and cultural fabric of Canadian society, while respecting the federal, bilingual and multicultural character of Canada.” As of June 1, 2016, foreign nationals destined to work in a province or territory outside of Quebec and have the work experience to qualify for a NOC 0, A, or B job may apply. Officers must be satisfied the applicant’s habitual language of daily use is French (the work performed in Canada does not need to be in French). An interview may be required if the officer has doubts on the foreign national’s language abilities and/or request an official language test where the applicant can demonstrate Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 7 or higher in TEF (Test d’Evaluation de Français ) or TCF (Test de connaissance du français ).
A work permit under C16 exemption code should be submitted online or through a VAC overseas. Those eligible may apply at a Port of Entry or from inside Canada and should be prepared to demonstrate to an officer they meet the eligibility of the program. This often means providing language test results.
Francophone Immigration in Atlantic Canada
Various immigration pathways exist through provincial nominee programs to facilitate the needs and priorities of the province. For example, if a province wishes to attract more physicians, it may choose to designate a pathway for eligible applicants.
Since 2019, Nova Scotia has been committed to increasing the francophone population. Attracting French-speaking immigrants to the province is of crucial importance to preserve the Acadian and other Francophone regions in the area while supporting the growth of the French language in the province. As such, the criteria for the November 7, 2022 draw in the Labour Market Priorities stream required candidates to have selected French as their first official language and to have had a Canadian Language Benchmark score of 10 or higher in French in all language abilities.
In New Brunswick, the Skilled Worker Stream gives priority processing for Francophone applicants. To meet the language requirement, applicants must submit valid test results from a designated testing organization to show they have obtained a minimum score equal to or greater than a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 4 for English or Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) 4 for French in all four language abilities: reading, writing, listening and speaking.
While at the moment there is no specific pathway for those destined for Prince Edward Island, the Réseau de développement économique et d’employabilité (RDÉE) de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard provides economic immigration services that facilitate the integration of Francophone immigrants into the labour market.
Similarly, in Newfoundland & Labrador, newcomers may find settlement support services with Federation des Francophone de Terre-Neuve-et-du-Labrador (COMPAS).
Labour Market Impact Assessments
If an employer in Canada wishes to hire a foreign national, either inside or outside Canada, they typically must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment. An LMIA is an application made to Service Canada that demonstrates labour shortages cannot be filled locally thus requiring the Canadian employer to hire a foreign national.
However, under specific circumstances, a foreign national may obtain a Work Permit based on an LMIA exemption code such as the Francophone Mobility exemption code, C16. These codes were designed to help facilitate the issuance of work permits without an LMIA and in accordance with Sections 204 to 208 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
For more information on Canadian work permits and Labour Market Impact Assessments, please book a consult here.