International Mobility Program: Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) – Work permit stream (exemption code C18)
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) is a suite of 3 federal programs, established by Ministerial Instructions, effective March 6, 2017. The goal of this pilot project is to attract and retain skilled immigrants in Atlantic Canada by testing innovative approaches to permanent immigration.
The AIP is in place until December 31, 2021.
As of August 17, 2020, IRCC will begin accepting online AIP work permit applications. Paper applications will be accepted until September 1, 2020.
Facilitating entry for these workers, under the International Mobility Program, supports paragraph 3(1)(e) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by encouraging the settlement and retention of workers in the Atlantic region.
On this page
- Eligibility for temporary work permit
- Provincial letter issued in reference to a temporary work permit
- Work permit duration
- Work permit extension
- Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System
- Open work permit for spouses and common-law partners
Eligibility for temporary work permit
Foreign nationals who receive a job offer from an employer and a referral letter, issued by one of the Atlantic provinces, may be eligible to apply for a 1-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA)-exempt employer-specific work permit, under paragraph 204(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR). The referral letter is issued once the province has
- received the needs assessment and settlement plan as well as the job offer, provided by the employer
- confirmed receipt of a commitment by the applicant to submit an eligible permanent residence application within 90 days from the submission of the work permit application
- ensured that the documents are complete
To be eligible to apply for a 1-year employer-specific work permit, under the program, foreign nationals must submit an online work permit application. Foreign nationals applying for a work permit under the AIP are not eligible to apply at a port of entry. The application must include the following:
- referral letter, issued by one of the Atlantic provinces, requesting that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issue a work permit
- signed commitment form, Undertaking for an application for a work permit exempted from a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) as part of the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (PDF, 738.36 KB), indicating the foreign national will apply for permanent residence within 90 days of submitting the work permit application
- an offer of employment number (LMIA exemption number), per section R209.11 (see Employer Portal for details)
- proof of work experience, in support of the occupation sought and education
As of May 1, 2019, there are new work permit eligibility requirements. Applicants must submit language, education and work experience documentation according to the specific AIP program they are applying for.
Any work permit applications received from May 1, 2019, onwards will be assessed under the new eligibility criteria and must include the following:
Official language proficiency
The applicant must provide:
- a copy of a language test approved by IRCC that shows the applicant meets the minimum language level of 4 in the Canadian Language Benchmarks in English or the Niveaux de compétence linguistique canadiens in French for each of the 4 language skill areas, and
- the test results must be less than 2 years old on the date of application
See the language requirements section for evidence of language proficiency.
Atlantic International Graduate Program (AIGP)
The applicant must demonstrate that they meet all of the following minimum education requirements:
- They obtained, as a full-time student, a degree, diploma, certificate or trade or apprenticeship credential following completion of a post-secondary education program of at least 2 years from a recognized publicly funded institution in the 4 Atlantic provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador).
- That they lived in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador or Prince Edward Island for at least 16 months (cumulative) within the 24-month period before their credential was granted.
- They had valid or legal temporary resident status throughout their stay in Canada and had authorization for any work, study or training they engaged in while in Canada.
Eligible educational credentials
Only certain educational credentials are eligible for the AIGP. An educational credential is not eligible if the credentials were obtained in a study or training program where:
- the study of English or French as a second language was at least half of the program
- distance learning was at least half of the program
- where a scholarship or fellowship stipulated that the recipient return to their home country to apply the knowledge and skills gained
Note: The education credential must have been obtained within 24 months of the date on the application for permanent residence.
Atlantic High-Skilled and Intermediate-Skilled Programs
Applicants must demonstrate they have either of the following:
- a Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree
- a completed foreign credential
In addition to either of the above, the applicant must have an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report from an agency approved by IRCC.
- The report must show the foreign education is equal to a completed Canadian secondary (high school) or post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree.
- The ECA must be less than 5 years old at the time of the application.
Note: The ECA assessment report is conclusive evidence that an applicant’s completed foreign educational credentials are equivalent to at least a completed Canadian secondary school educational credential.
Equivalency assessments include an assessment of the authenticity of the applicant’s completed foreign educational credentials. This is not conclusive evidence of the authenticity of the foreign educational credentials.
If an officer has concerns about the authenticity of an applicant’s foreign educational credentials, they must communicate these concerns to the applicant, afford them an opportunity to respond to those concerns, and provide additional information or documentation.
Qualifying work experience
Atlantic International Graduate Program
Applicants do not require any work experience.
Atlantic High-Skilled and Intermediate-Skilled program
Applicants must demonstrate that they have obtained work experience
- for at least 1 year (1,560 hours total / 30 hours per week), non-continuous, full-time or an equal amount in part-time, within the last 3 years
- that was for paid work (volunteer work and unpaid internships do not count)
- in an occupation with the following National Occupational Classification (NOC)
- for high-skilled program – at skill type 0, or skill levels A, or B
- for intermediate-skilled – at skill level C
Note: work experience acquired while working as a registered nurse or registered psychiatric nurse (NOC 3012) or a licenced practical nurse (NOC 3233) can count if the applicant has a job offer as a nurse’s aide, orderly or patient services associate (NOC 3413) or a home support worker (NOC 4412).where they have carried out the activities listed in the lead statement of the National Occupational Classification (NOC) and a substantial number of the main duties
- that was obtained overseas or obtained in Canada
- To count, Canadian experience must have been obtained while the foreign national was authorized to work in Canada as a temporary resident.
For the periods of work experience claimed in the application, applicants under the Atlantic High-Skilled and Intermediate-Skilled programs must demonstrate they performed both of the following:
- the actions identified in the initial lead statement of the NOC description
- a substantial number of the main duties, including all the essential duties, listed in the NOC description
- 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.
Work experience does not need to be continuous to qualify and can be accumulated within the previous 3 years. When calculating the period of 12 months of required employment, it cannot include periods of unemployment, prolonged sick leave or parental leave. However, a reasonable period of vacation time will be counted towards meeting the work experience requirement (such as, 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 the work hours did not exceed what they were authorized to do.
Note: In the case of work performed in Canada, the foreign national must have been both authorized to work and a temporary resident at the time.
Provincial letter issued in reference to a temporary work permit
Applicants under the AIP must include a referral letter, issued by an Atlantic province, with their work permit application. This letter should include the following information:
- the date of issue of the letter
- the applicant’s name and date of birth
- the applicant’s citizenship
- a designated employer name, address and contact information
- an employment start date
- the specific AIP program the applicant is applying under
- a statement that the designated employer has submitted an endorsement application that includes a needs assessment and settlement plan for the applicant and each member of the family, signed by both the designated employer and the applicant
- a request for IRCC to issue a 1-year employer-specific work permit, with the validity dates as indicated in the offer of employment
- a statement that the employer urgently needs the applicant as an employee before the application for permanent residence is complete
- a statement that the province has determined that
- the job offer is consistent with the requirements of the Ministerial Instructions classes
- the employment is not part time or seasonal
- the wages and working conditions of the employment are sufficient to attract and retain Canadian citizens and permanent residents
- the NOC classification
- an occupation title
- the unique identifying number of the letter
Officers must verify that the applicant and the designated employer are listed on the encrypted spreadsheet that the Centralized Intake Office receives directly from the provinces every 2 weeks.
Provinces monitor the number of referral letters issued to ensure that it does not exceed the number of permanent residence applications allocated to them, under the AIP.
Officers with any concerns regarding the letter may contact the Immigration Program Guidance Branch.
Work permit duration
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. The 1-year validity from the date of entry is necessary for the applicant to obtain health care and other benefits, once they are in Canada.
If the passport expires before a 1-year work permit can be issued, the foreign worker may apply for the balance by submitting an application for a work permit extension.
Work permit extension
In some situations, the application for permanent residence may take more than 1 year to be processed. Applicants to the AIP 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.
Work permits cannot be made invalid, revoked or cancelled if an employer is de-designated by a province. However, if an employer is found to be non-compliant with employer conditions, through an inspection, the work permit may be revoked. Officers may refuse work permit extension applications to work for an employer who has been de-designated by the province. Foreign nationals may work for another employer, provided the employer is designated, and the province has issued a referral letter to support the new work permit.
For work permit extension applications where the applicant has not submitted an application for permanent residence within 90 days of the initial work permit, the application must include a new referral letter, issued by a province.
Work permit issuance in the Global Case Management System
Officers should input the appropriate special program code that is associated with 1 of the 3 AIP programs if they are satisfied that the foreign national meets the requirements for a work permit and offer of employment. Officers should also enter a remark on the work permit, indicating the intended validity of the work permit from the date of entry to Canada.
Under the “Application” screen, officers should enter the following:
- Case Type: 52
Based on fields in the offer of employment, officers should enter the following under the “Application” screen:
- Province of Destination: Address of physical job location (if there is more than 1 location, officers should enter the primary location in the “Province of Destination” field and the secondary location in the “Remarks” field)
- City of Destination: Address of physical job location (if there is more than 1 location, officers should enter the primary location in the “City of Destination” field and the secondary location in the “Remarks” field)
- Exemption Code: C18
- Special Program Codes:
- AHSP (Atlantic High-Skilled Program)
- AISP (Atlantic Intermediate-Skilled Program)
- AIGP (Atlantic International Graduate Program)
Officers must enter 1 of the special program codes indicated in the provincial referral letter, found in the field “Name of Atlantic Pilot Program”.
- Intended Occupation: Job title
- Salary: Amount per year, as indicated wage in Canadian dollars and number of work hours
- Employer: Business operating name
Open work permits for spouses and common-law partners
Officers may issue an open work permit, under LMIA exemption code C41, to the spouse or common-law partner of an AIP participant if that participant is employed in a National Occupational Classification (NOC) 0, A, B or C position. The open work permit should have a validity that matches the principal applicant’s work permit, up to a maximum of 1 year or until the expiry of the spouse or common-law partner’s passport or travel document, whichever is earlier. The spouse or common-law partner’s work permit may be issued at a port of entry (POE).
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