Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program Extended Until 2025
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced today that the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program, designed to aid experienced agricultural and food industry workers in obtaining permanent residence in Canada, will continue until May 14, 2025. Initially set to expire on May 14, 2023, this extension will help address labor shortages in key industries.
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Annual Occupational Caps Lifted for Increased Opportunities
In addition to the extension, the Minister declared the removal of annual occupational caps for program participants. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) believe that lifting these limits will allow more eligible candidates to apply. Furthermore, IRCC is planning a series of additional changes to be introduced by the end of the year, including:
- Expanded open work permit access for pilot program participants’ family members, regardless of the candidate’s job skill level
- Allowing unions to vouch for a candidate’s work experience as an alternative to employment reference letters
- Providing applicants in Canada with the option to meet the job offer requirement or the education requirement
- Accepting work experience obtained under open work permits for vulnerable workers
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Addressing Labor Shortages in Canada’s Agri-Food Sector
Launched in 2020, the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot aimed to alleviate labor shortages in meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, and livestock-raising industries. Recent job vacancy data from February 2023 reveals over 243,000 people employed in the Agriculture, Hunting, Fishing, and Forestry sectors, with more than 14,000 vacant positions. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted this industry, causing plant closures, market fluctuations, and supply chain delays.
Eligible Occupations and Industries for the Pilot Program
The pilot program targets specific occupations and industries, such as:
- Meat product manufacturing
- Greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production, including mushroom production
- Animal production, excluding aquaculture
Candidate Eligibility and Requirements
To qualify for the program, candidates must meet certain eligibility criteria, including:
- 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in an eligible occupation
- A Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in English or French
- The foreign equivalent of high school education or higher
- An indeterminate, full-time, non-seasonal job offer in Canada, outside of Quebec, at or above the prevailing wage
Meat Processing Sector: Supporting Temporary Foreign Workers
Employers in the meat processing sector participating in the pilot will receive a two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment, outlining their plan to assist temporary foreign workers in obtaining permanent residency. Unionized meat processors must obtain a letter of support from their union, while non-unionized meat processors need to meet additional requirements to protect the labor market and migrant workers.
Conclusion: Strengthening Canada’s Agri-Food Sector Through Immigration
The extension of the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot and the removal of occupational caps, along with additional changes to be introduced, demonstrates Canada’s commitment to supporting its agri-food sector. By providing more opportunities for experienced workers in the agriculture and food industries to obtain permanent residence, the pilot program aims to address labor shortages and bolster the growth of these vital sectors. The continuous improvements to the program will not only benefit Canada’s economy but also offer better prospects for eligible candidates and their families.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program?
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot Program is an initiative launched by Canada to help experienced workers in agricultural and food industries transition to permanent residence in Canada, focusing on addressing labor shortages in meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, and livestock-raising industries.
How long has the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot been extended?
The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot has been extended until May 14, 2025. Initially set to expire on May 14, 2023, the extension aims to provide more opportunities for eligible candidates and support the growth of Canada’s agri-food sector.
What changes have been made to the occupational caps in the pilot program?
The annual occupational caps for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot have been lifted. This change will allow more eligible candidates to apply and benefit from the program.
What additional changes are planned for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?
IRCC plans to introduce a series of additional changes by the end of the year, including expanded open work permit access for family members, allowing unions to vouch for candidates’ work experience, providing applicants in Canada with options to meet job offer or education requirements, and accepting work experience obtained under open work permits for vulnerable workers.
Which occupations and industries are eligible for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?
Eligible occupations and industries for the pilot program include meat product manufacturing, greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production (including mushroom production), and animal production excluding aquaculture. Some specific eligible occupations are retail butchers, industrial butchers, farm supervisors, specialized livestock workers, general farm workers, and harvesting laborers.