International Mobility Program: Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) – Employer-specific work permits (exemption code C15)
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
Special measures are currently in effect due to the disruption of services associated with impacts of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) is a federal program established by Ministerial Instructions, effective November 1, 2019. The goal of this pilot is to attract and retain skilled immigrants in rural and northern communities by testing innovative approaches to permanent immigration.
Facilitating entry for these workers under the International Mobility Program supports paragraph 3(1)(e) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) by encouraging the settlement and retention of workers in rural and northern communities.
Update due to COVID-19
In addition to the program delivery instructions below, in lieu of the acknowledgement of receipt letter, officers are to verify the following:
- Monthly community recommendation spreadsheet ‒ Verify that the applicant was issued a valid community recommendation [IMM 0112] by one of the participating communities.
- Proof that they submitted a permanent residence application ‒ If no formal proof can be provided, this may be in the form of one of the following:
- a courier receipt (paper-based application)
- a letter indicating the date the permanent residence application was submitted (paper-based application)
- an email confirming that the application was submitted through the online portal (online application)
- Proof of payment of permanent residence fees ‒ See copy of payment receipt.
To determine the validity of the required documents submitted with the work permit application, use the date on the courier receipt as the lock-in date for the permanent residence application under the RNIP. If a courier receipt was not provided, then use the date indicated in the letter submitted by the applicant.
All other document requirements must be met unless exempted under the COVID-19 special measures.
A public policy concerning the work experience eligibility requirement has been established for the RNIP. Due to widespread work interruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, applicants under the RNIP are now exempt from the requirement to accumulate work experience over a continuous period.
Applicants can now accumulate qualifying work experience of at least 1 year of full-time work (or an equal amount in part-time) within the last 3 years, whether that work experience is continuous or not.
All other work experience and eligibility criteria must be met.
To learn more, please consult the public policy page.
More COVID-19 guidance
On this page
- Eligibility for a temporary work permit
- Required documents
- Work permit duration
- Work permit processing
- Work permit extension
- Works permit for spouses and common-law partners
Eligibility for a temporary work permit
Foreign nationals who have submitted a complete application for permanent residence under the RNIP Program and received an acknowledgement of receipt may apply online for a 1-year employer-specific Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt work permit, under paragraph 205(a) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR).
To apply for a 1-year employer-specific work permit under the RNIP program, foreign nationals must submit a work permit application online. Foreign nationals applying for a work permit under the RNIP are not eligible to apply at a port of entry.
Applications must include the following:
- the acknowledgement of receipt letter from the application for permanent residence for the RNIP
- an offer of employment number (that is, A#), per section R209.11 (see Employer Portal for details)
- the IMM 0112 form: Recommendation from the designated Economic Development Organization – Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
- proof of work experience
- education credentials
- language test results
Applicants must provide an offer of employment:
- from an employer whose workplace is located within the boundaries of the community
- for non-seasonal, indeterminate employment
- for an occupation at skill type 0 or skill level A, B, C or D of the National Occupational Classification (NOC)
Employers must demonstrate that the job offered to the foreign national under this pilot matches their work experience. For example,
If the work experience is in… The job offer must be in… NOC 0 NOC 0 or A NOC A NOC 0, A, or B NOC B NOC A, B, or C NOC C NOC B or C NOC D NOC D in same occupation
- supported by a recommendation from the local economic development organization of the participating community that indicates that the job offer is genuine
- for which the wages being offered fall within or exceed the wage range for that particular occupation
Note: Applicants must demonstrate that they are able to perform and are likely to accept and carry out the employment and that they meet the relevant employment requirements of the occupation as set out in the NOC. Failure to do so may result in a refusal.
Update due to COVID-19
As a temporary measure, the designated economic development organization is now able to digitally sign the recommendation form [IMM 0112]. The applicant can include either a copy of the recommendation form with a handwritten signature or a copy of the electronically signed recommendation form with their application.
All other document requirements must be met unless exempted under the COVID-19 special measures.
A recommendation form (Recommendation from the designated Economic Development Organization – Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot [IMM 0112]) is issued by the economic development organization in the participating community to persons who have been recommended. Applicants under the RNIP must include the IMM 0112 form with their work permit application.
The community recommendation form is considered valid as long as the applicant submits a complete application for permanent residence on or before the expiry date of the recommendation. This is verified in the completeness check upon receipt of the RNIP application. Since the foreign national may only apply for a work permit after receiving their acknowledgement of receipt, the recommendation form may be expired when submitted with the work permit application.
Note: Officers are responsible for assessing the selection criteria and determining if the applicant meets all requirements of the program. Communities will perform assessments of the applicants; however, officers must be satisfied that applicants meet the selection criteria. Officers should not presume that a recommendation means that an applicant meets all the requirements of the program.
Applicants must demonstrate they have the following:
- a Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, or
- a completed foreign education credential, and
- an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from a designated organization approved by IRCC, which must
- show that the foreign education is equal to a completed Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, and
- be less than 5 years old at the time of the application for permanent residence under the RNIP program
Note: ECAs include an assessment by the designated organization of the authenticity of the applicant’s completed foreign educational credentials. The assessment outcome stated in the ECA report is conclusive evidence that an applicant’s completed foreign educational credentials are equivalent to at least a completed Canadian secondary school educational credential.
If an officer has concerns about the authenticity of an applicant’s foreign educational credentials, they should notify the Immigration Program Guidance Branch (IPGB), which will consult with the appropriate ECA designated organization for further instruction. Should the authenticity of an applicant’s foreign educational credentials still be a concern after consultation, the officer will write to the applicant, explaining the concerns, and allow the applicant to respond to those concerns through correspondence, documentation and/or an interview.
For additional guidance on misrepresentation, processing offices should consult the misrepresentation section of chapter ENF 2.
The procedures for determining misrepresentation, including procedural fairness, remain the same under the RNIP.
Note: An officer may refer to the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) website to verify whether a school is an educational or training institution that is recognized by the provincial authorities responsible for registering, accrediting, supervising and regulating such institutions.
Official language proficiency
The applicant must provide a copy of a language test approved by IRCC that is:
- less than 2 years old on the date of application for permanent residence under the RNIP program
- shows the applicant meets the minimum language level for the NOC of the applicant’s job offer
|If the job offer is in…||The language results must be at a minimum level of…|
|NOC 0 or NOC A||6 in the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) in English or the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens (NCLC) in French for each of the 4 language skill areas|
|NOC B||5 in the CLB in English or the NCLC in French for each of the 4 language skill areas|
|NOC C or NOC D||4 in the CLB in English or the NCLC in French for each of the 4 language skill areas|
Qualifying work experience
Due to the new COVID-19 update, applicants no longer have to meet the “continuous” requirement for qualifying work experience. All other work experience criteria listed below must be met. To learn more, please consult the public policy page.
Applicants must demonstrate that they have obtained work experience of at least 1 year of continuous, full-time work (1,560 hours total at 30 hours per week), or an equal amount in part-time work, within the 3 years before the date of application for permanent residence under the RNIP program:
- for paid work (volunteer work and unpaid internships do not count)
- for activities listed in the lead statement of the NOC and a substantial number of the main duties
- This means the applicant performed some or all of the main duties, including all the duties that distinguish a particular occupation from any other. For example, duties that begin with “may” in the NOC description are not usually considered to be essential duties.
Applicants do not have to be employed at the time they apply.
The period of 12 months of required employment cannot include any extended breaks in employment, periods of unemployment, or prolonged sick leave or parental leave. However, a reasonable period of vacation time will be counted towards meeting the work experience requirement (for example, a 2-week period of paid vacation leave within a given 52-week period in which the applicant was engaged in qualifying work).
Any periods of self-employment will not be included when calculating the period of qualifying work experience.
Work experience acquired during a period of study is allowed, as long as it does not exceed the work hours authorized under section R186.
International students who have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution in a participating RNIP community may be exempt from the work experience requirements if
- (a) the international student was enrolled as a full-time student during the entire period of the program;
- (b) the education credential was obtained within 18 months prior to the date of their permanent resident visa application;
- (c) in the case of a master’s or doctoral degree that was less than two years in length, the international student was physically present in the rural or northern community for the duration of their studies; and
- (d) for any post-secondary program other than those referred to in paragraph (c), the program was at least a 2-year program and, during the 24 months immediately prior to the day on which the credential was obtained, the international student was physically present in the rural or northern community for at least 16 months.
Work permit duration
Initial work permit approved overseas: Officers may issue an employer-specific LMIA-exempt work permit that is valid for 1 year from the date of entry to Canada or until the expiry of the travel document, whichever comes first.
Work permit application submitted in Canada: Officers may issue an employer-specific LMIA-exempt work permit that is valid for 1 year from the date of decision on the application or until the expiry of the passport, whichever is earlier.
If the passport expires before the 1-year period, a work permit can be issued until the expiry of the passport or travel document, whichever is earlier. The foreign worker may apply for the balance by submitting an application for a work permit extension. This would require that the employer submit a new offer of employment and pay the employer compliance fee.
Work permit processing
The work permit application must be submitted online. Foreign nationals and their spouses may not apply for the RNIP work permit at a port of entry.
Officers should fully assess the application package. These applications are not vetted by the community.
Work permit extension
In some rare situations, the application for permanent residence may take more than 1 year to be processed. Applicants to the RNIP are not eligible for a bridging open work permit. Applicants who require additional time in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed may apply to extend their work permit. If the permanent residence application is refused, the applicant may not extend their work permit.
Work permits for spouses and common-law partners
Officers may issue an open work permit to RNIP spouses under LMIA exemption code C17, with a location restriction to the community where the principal applicant works. The spouse’s work permit must always be restricted to the same community as the principal applicant’s job location and should not be amended.
The open work permit should have a validity that matches the principal applicant’s, up to a maximum of 1 year or until the expiry of the passport or travel document, whichever is earlier.
Note to border services officers: Foreign nationals may not apply for an open work permit under LMIA exemption C17 at a port of entry.
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