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Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP)

Updated: April 21st, 2023

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) is a Canadian immigration program designed to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities. The program is community-driven, which means participating communities take the lead in attracting new immigrants and matching them with local job vacancies, promoting a welcoming community, and connecting newcomers to established community members and local settlement services.

Due to waning birth rates and early retirement, Canada urgently seeks skilled individuals. Although many skilled immigrants are moving to the Great White North, almost 70% of immigrants settle in urban provinces such as Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia, leaving large gaps in rural communities.

Most immigrants forget that while opportunities in urban areas may seem more lucrative, they also come with a substantially higher cost of living. Secondly, given the undisputed preference for urban hubs by skilled foreigners and young native professionals, there is also significantly more competition for opportunities. Finally, the hidden benefit of seeking employment in smaller communities is that no one is available to fill the gaps, there is a higher demand, and naturally, higher demand means a higher salary.

How Does the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Work?

How Does the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Work?

The RNIP assists employers based in participating communities to fill job vacancies not being filled by the local talent pool. In addition, the RNIP offers a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers who want to work and live in one of the participating communities. The program is open to foreign workers with genuine employment opportunity that meets the community's requirements, intends to stay in the community, and meets the eligibility criteria.

To apply, foreign workers must find an eligible job with an employer in one of the participating communities, submit their application for recommendation to the community, and, if recommended, apply for permanent residence. The RNIP was announced in 2019 as a Canadian immigration initiative to address the labor market needs of smaller communities. The program is available in 11 participating communities in Ontario, Western Canada, and the three territories. The RNIP is a community-driven initiative that encourages the settlement of newcomers in comparatively smaller communities in Canada. The program is an essential regional immigration program that helps the sustainable growth of Canada.

How To Apply to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

How To Apply to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

Step 1: Research, The Communities

Before applying for the RNIP, research the participating communities to find the one that suits your needs and preferences. Each community has its specific requirements and settlement services. Familiarize yourself with the local job market and understand the community's expectations. The communities participating in the RNIP are as follows:

Community Website
North Bay, Ontario
Sudbury, Ontario
Timmins, Ontario
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Brandon, Manitoba
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
Claresholm, Alberta
Vernon, British Columbia
West Kootenay(trail, Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson), British Columbia

As seen in the table above, five provinces with multiple communities in each are participating in the Rural and Northern immigration pilot (RNIP).

Brandon and Altona are situated in the south of Canada at the very bottom of Manitoba. Sudbury, Timmins, Sault Ste Marie, and Thunder Bay in Ontario are all located in the south of the province on or near Lake Superior.

Claresholm in Alberta is only a short drive from the Canadian Rockies, and Vernon and West Kootenay are beautiful small towns surrounded by greenery in the heart of British Columbia.

Aside from the natural beauty of the areas these Canadian towns are located in, these are also the fairest weather regions Canada will have to offer year-round. As a result, these underrated towns have vacancies spread across various sectors. Let's look at the top in-demand jobs in rural areas and how to qualify for the Rural and Nothern Immigration Pilot program.

Step 2: Check Eligibility Requirements

Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for the RNIP, including work experience, language skills, education, and a genuine intention to live in the community. The requirements may vary depending on the community you choose, so check the specific eligibility criteria for your chosen community. However, to be considered for any of the participating communities, you must:

  • Have at least one year of accumulative work experience in the last three years or have graduated from a public post-secondary institution in the chosen community;
  • Take a language proficiency test in French or English to prove you will be able to communicate effectively in your job and community;
  • Have a Canadian high school diploma or equivalent. Further credentials will be required depending on job specifications;
  • Proof that you have the financial ability to transition yourself and any dependents into the community; and
  • You must live and work in the community to participate in the pilot.

Step 3: Find a Job

How To Apply to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

To apply for the RNIP. You need a full-time, permanent job offer from an employer in your chosen community. To be considered valid, your job will need to meet the following requirements:

  • The position must be full-time, which means at least 30 hours of paid work a week;
  • The offer must be for non-seasonal work, which means consistent and regular working hours;
  • Must be a permanent position, i.e., non-contractual or without an end date;
  • Your wage/salary must meet or be higher than the minimum wage as per your National Occupational Classification (NOC); and
  • Your experience must be in line with the duties laid out in the job description, ensuring you will be able to complete your duties as required of the job.

Search for job opportunities in your field and apply to positions that match your skills and experience. Remember that the job offer must meet the community's economic needs and requirements.

Another vital aspect to consider before applying to the RNIP is if your occupation is in demand in those communities. Currently, the most in-demand occupations in Canada's rural areas are as follows: 

  • Steel manufacturing industry
  • Forestry sector
  • IT professions
  • Aviation and Aerospace
  • Medical professions
  • Education sector and police services
  • Agriculture and Manufacturing
  • Construction industry
  • Food processing
  • Financial services
  • Dental Industry
  • Practical nurses
  • Meat processing industry.

However, in-demand occupations differ based on the province due to their industries, communities, and natural resources. This map shows what jobs are in demand in each of Canada's provinces:

Step 4: Obtain a Community Recommendation

Once you have a job offer, contact the community's designated economic development organization to apply for a community recommendation. This recommendation confirms that you meet the local requirements and that the community supports your application for permanent residence. You can find these organizations in the links above.

Step 5: Language Testing

Complete a language test in English or French to prove your proficiency. The RNIP requires a minimum Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) score, which may vary depending on the community and the job offer. Schedule your language test well, as test dates can fill up quickly. If English is your choice, you could massively maximize your score and chances of being accepted into the RNIP by taking an IELTS preparation course.

Step 6: Educational Credential Assessment (ECA)

If your education were completed outside of Canada, you'd need an ECA to prove that your foreign credentials are equivalent to Canadian standards. Designated organizations conduct this assessment, which can take several weeks or months. Start the ECA process early to avoid delays in your application. Find out how to validate your credentials through one of Canada's leading credential evaluation organizations.

Step 7: Create an Online Profile

After meeting the eligibility requirements, obtaining a job offer, and receiving a community recommendation, create an online profile on the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. Provide accurate information about your work experience, education, language skills, and other relevant factors.
Submit your application for permanent residence: If your profile is accepted, you'll be invited to apply through the RNIP. Gather all required documents, including your job offer, community recommendation, language test results, and ECA, and submit your application to IRCC. Pay the required processing fees and ensure your application is complete and accurate to avoid delays.

Step 8: Biometrics

After submitting your application, you may be required to provide biometrics, including fingerprints and a photo. Schedule an appointment at a biometrics collection center and follow the instructions provided by IRCC.

Step 9: Medical Examination

You may also be required to undergo a medical examination to prove that you don't threaten public health or safety in Canada. Please schedule an appointment with a panel physician approved by the Canadian government and follow their instructions.

Step 10: Wait for a Decision

Once you have submitted your complete application, wait for IRCC to decide. This process may take several months. During this time, maintain your job offer and community recommendation, keeping the employer and the community informed of any changes in your situation.

Step 11: Prepare for Your Move to Canada

If your application for permanent residence is approved, make arrangements to move to your chosen community in Canada—research housing options, schools, and local services to help you settle into your new home.

When you have received an offer from a designated potential employer, you will need to send it along with all supporting documentation, such as your resume, language test results, education credentials, and qualifications, etc., along with your Canada visa application to the board managing the pilot in the community of your choice.

Applying to the RNIP can be daunting, and ensuring everything is in order can be difficult if you're applying alone. One of the best ways to remove the stress of the application process and maximize your chances of success is to utilize the services of a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC). An RCIC is a professional the Canadian government authorizes to provide immigration advice and representation to clients. In the context of the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program, RCICs manage client expectations, assess the 11 participating communities regarding life quality and job opportunities, and answer typical inquiries about the program from employers and aspiring immigrants. They also assist clients with the initial client assessment, employer selection, and candidate selection criteria.

In addition, RCICs may work with community partners to provide greater support to candidates and employers, reduce the amount of settlement funds participants must have, and strengthen program integrity. International students at eligible academic institutions may also work with RCICs to participate in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program after graduation.


Build a Prosperous, Peaceful Future in Rural Canada

How Does the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Support International Students' Transition Into the Local Workforce?

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program supports international students by providing them a pathway to permanent residence in Canada. To be eligible for the program, candidates must have qualifying work experience or have graduated from a publicly funded post-secondary institution in the recommending community.

Once they have a job offer, they can submit their application for recommendation to the community. If a community recommends them, they can apply for permanent residence. The program also connects newcomers with settlement services and mentoring opportunities with established community members. The program supports international students in their transition into the local workforce by providing a pathway to permanent residence and connecting newcomers with local settlement services.

What are the Unique Features and Attractions of the Communities Participating in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot?

The unique features and attractions of the communities participating in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot vary based on the specific locations, but some common themes can be found. These communities typically offer a high quality of life, lower living costs than urban centers, affordable housing, and a strong sense of community.

They are often surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, offering outdoor recreational activities like hiking, fishing, skiing, and snowmobiling. Many of these communities have a rich cultural heritage, diverse local traditions, and strong connections to Indigenous peoples, contributing to a unique and vibrant lifestyle. The participating communities also focus on economic growth and development, providing job opportunities in various sectors such as agriculture, health care, education, and natural resources.

Build a Prosperous, Peaceful Future in Rural Canada

By participating in the program, you can help drive economic growth in smaller communities and make a meaningful impact on the local workforce. The program also provides a pathway to permanent residence for international students who have graduated from eligible academic institutions. So, suppose you are looking for a new adventure and want to make a difference in a smaller community. In that case, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot program may be the perfect opportunity for you.

However, if you want to utilize all this pilot may hold for you, you must apply correctly. One of the best ways to make sure this happens is to utilize the resources of an RCIC. To help you apply, an RCIC can fully evaluate you to ensure your eligibility, recommend resources to help you maximize your eligibility, set up your online profiles, fill out your forms, help you source and validate your documentation, represent you with certain immigration authorities and provide you with the support and guidance you need throughout your application process.

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