Applications to the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are now open

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced on May 15, 2020, that they would now be accepting applications to the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot program which will admit up to 2,750 principal applicants and their family members annually for the next three years.

The pilot was supposed to launch at the end of March but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although travel restrictions are still in place, temporary foreign workers who are already in Canada working in an eligible industry can now apply to the new pathway to permanent residence. Applications will be open until May 14, 2023.

The three-year pilot is designed to test an industry-specific approach to help fill skill gaps in the workforce. Eligible occupations for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot are in the meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, and livestock-raising industries and include:

  • Meat product manufacturing
    • Retail butchers
    • Industrial butchers
    • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • Food processing labourers
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production
    • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • General farmworkers
    • Harvesting labourers
  • Animal production excluding aquaculture
    • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • General farmworkers 

Because Quebec has its immigration system under the Canada-Quebec Accord, it is not included in the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot. Quebec employers will be able to benefit from the pilot’s two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) with an eligible National Occupational Classification (NOC) code. Temporary foreign workers who want to apply for permanent residence in Quebec may apply for a Quebec Selection Certificate (CSQ) through the Quebec Experience Class (PEQ) program. The CSQ can then be used to apply for Canadian permanent residence.   

Canada’s agriculture and agri-food industry are an important part of the economy. It supports 1 in 8 jobs across the country and 2019 agriculture exports reached $67 billion. The industry relies on recruiting and retaining a large, skilled workforce. The Agri-Food Pilot will help employers in the industry get the full-time, year-round workforce they need to be successful.

In an IRCC media release about the pilot, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco Mendicino, said “it’s very important that we support our farmers and food processors to make sure they have the workers they need to help strengthen Canada’s food security. Attracting and retaining talented workers is essential to help grow our economy and improve the living standards of all Canadians. The Agri-Food Pilot will attract applicants for permanent residence who have worked in Canada, who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the labour needs of farmers and processors.”  

The pilot applies primarily to workers who are already in Canada in keeping with Canada’s commitment to recruiting skilled workers through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

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