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Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and Altona/Rhineland, Manitoba, kick-off an anticipated pilot project

Two Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot communities now accepting applications

Canada’s anticipated Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is finally opening to applications. 

Once fully operational, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) will allow employers in 11 participating communities in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia to recruit eligible foreign workers.

Candidates who are recommended by a participating community will be able to apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for Canadian permanent residence.

The first local websites dedicated to the pilot came online November 15 in the following communities:

Sault Ste. Marie and Altona/Rhineland are now accepting applications from candidates with an eligible offer of genuine*, full-time, permanent employment from a local employer.

Thunder Bay is currently only accepting inquiries from local employers who would like to participate in the pilot and says approved employers will be able to post job vacancies on the website beginning December 1, 2019.

Thunder Bay will begin accepting applications from candidates on January 2, 2020.

The websites for the remaining eight participating communities are “coming soon,” according to IRCC.

Application process

The first step in the immigration process through the RNIP is to obtain an eligible job offer from an approved employer in one of the participating communities.

Candidates with an eligible job offer then apply for a community recommendation and, if approved, submit an application for Canadian permanent residence from IRCC.

Each community will have a set number of recommendations that it can make each year. Peter Liang, a spokesperson for IRCC, told CIC News that an average of approximately 100 principal applicants and their immediate family members could be welcomed in each participating community, “but this will vary by community.”

“The number of permanent residents coming to Canada through the pilot will depend on the needs of the participating communities and the number of newcomers they can welcome,” Liang said.

In total, the pilot could approve as many as 2,750 principal applicants and their families for permanent residence annually.


Beyond the mandatory job offer, candidates must meet both federal requirements and community criteria that vary from one municipality to another.

Both Sault Ste. Marie and Altona/Rhineland are using their own points-based systems to prioritize candidates for recommendation.

Candidates applying to Sault Ste. Marie, for example, will have to obtain a minimum score based on the following requirements:

  • a job offer in one of 22 priority occupations
  • at least two years of work experience in that occupation
  • the applicant’s age (18 to 47 only)
  • at least one year of full-time work experience in Sault Ste. Marie
  • at least a year of post-secondary studies in Sault Ste. Marie
  • the applicant is already a resident of Sault Ste. Marie
  • personal ties to established members of the Sault Ste. Marie community
    • immediate family (parent, sibling or child who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident)
    • extended family member (grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin, niece or nephew), a friend or a representative of an established community organization who is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • a visit to Sault Ste. Marie of at least five nights within the past three years that included meetings with at least two employers in the applicant’s line of work
  • authentic knowledge of and interest in a “recreational, cultural, or lifestyle activity” in Sault Ste. Marie

Candidates with a spouse or common-law partner will also receive points for the following:

  • spouse or common-law partner with a valid job offer in a priority occupation OR at least two years of full-time, continuous work experience in a priority occupation
  • spouse or common-law partner with a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 5 in each category (writing, reading, oral and listening)

Sault Ste. Marie says an applicant’s score determines the likelihood that they will be able to contribute to “an urgent or emerging need in the local economy,” build strong ties with community members and enjoy the city’s “unique lifestyle and cultural offerings.”

“We believe that applicants with high scores have a better chance of integrating into community life and staying in Sault Ste. Marie for the long-term,” the city explains on its dedicated RNIP website.

Altona/Rhineland requires interested candidates to create and register an online profile using a platform operated by its local economic development corporation, SEED.

The platform allows users to search job postings and apply for those that match their qualifications. Users can also set up automatic alerts that will notify them when jobs are posted that match their work experience.

Users can also upload their CV, which is vetted by SEED personnel and passed along to local employers if it matches their employment needs.

As of last week, SEED reported that nearly 2,000 profiles had already been created.

*IRCC defines a “genuine job offer” as one that must meet the needs of an employer who is actively in the business for which the job offer has been made, who is able to fulfil the terms of the offer and who has a track record of complying with all employment laws and rules.

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