Updated: Jul 23
This article is complimentary to the live video above and will cover the following topics:
Let's dive right in!
The Atlantic Immigration Program, formally known as the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program, is an immigration pathway for skilled workers from outside of Canada and international graduates from an Atlantic Canadian post-secondary institution. Through this pathway, skilled immigrants or international graduates will be able to live and work in Atlantic Canada. The program is employer-driven, meaning, employers in Atlantic Canada have submitted an interest or need to their government that they need to hire internationally or someone living in Canada as a temporary resident, like a student, for example, to fill job positions that they are not able to fill locally. Since it is employer-driven, you need to have a job offer from a designated employer in Atlantic Canada to be eligible for this program.
The program started out as a temporary, pilot program back in 2017 under the name Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program and ended on December 31, 2021. I am assuming that there was enough interest generated through the pilot program to make it a permanent program with no end date and is now called the Atlantic Immigration Program.
Atlantic Canada is made up of the Eastern provinces - New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador.
If you are new to the term “Provinces”, Here is a bit from my new book - From Foreign Student to Canadian Citizen - And Everything in Between:
Canada has 10 Provinces and 3 Territories. The Provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.
The difference between Provinces and Territories is relative to their governance. But for the sake of this quick lesson, it doesn't matter. Just know 10 are called Provinces, and 3 are called Territories.
Provinces are comparable to States in the United States. New York and California are States in the United States of America…. Ontario and Alberta are Provinces in Canada... St Ann & Kingston are Parishes in Jamaica.
Toronto is a city in Ontario, like Los Angeles (LA) is a city in California, and Ocho Rios is a city/town in St Ann.
Here is a map of Canada showing the Atlantic Provinces:
How it works
Employers in Atlantic Canada must apply to their provincial government to become “designated” to hire workers as part of the Atlantic Immigration Program. Once an employer is designated, they can hire multiple candidates from foreign countries or international student graduates within Canada to fill various job positions. These employers are what make up the Designated List of Employers. Once you see an employer on this list, it means the province has approved them to hire through this program.
The Atlantic Immigration Program does not assist with finding candidates, or jobs for candidates, employers must seek out candidates on their own by posting jobs or looking for candidates using a recruiter or on their own.
For Skilled Foreign Workers
“Foreign” is any country outside of Canada, in this context. So, as long as you live outside of Canada, you have checked one eligibility box.
A skilled worker is someone who has worked for at least 1 year, 30hrs per week (or a total of 1560 hrs), within the last 5 years. You can count part-time and full-time paid employment only and hours must be accumulated over a period of at least 1 year. Self-employed, unpaid internship or volunteer hours do not count. The TYPE of employment is also important and is defined under what is called the “National Occupational Classification” or NOC. Immigration uses this system to describe and classify job and skill levels. The type of employment you have had has to fall under skill type 0 (zero), A, B or C. Your foreign work experience must align with most of the main duties and actions of your NOC code. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/express-entry/eligibility/find-national-occupation-code.html#noc
NOC Skill Type 0 are managerial level jobs, such as project managers, restaurant managers, human resource managers, government managers, commissioned police officers, construction managers etc.
NOC Skill Type A - are professional jobs that you obtained a university degree to be qualified for such as a medical doctor, architect, financial auditor, professional consultant, etc.
NOC Skill Type B - are technical jobs and skilled trades such as an architectural technologist (drafter), administrative assistant, hr recruiter, chef, electrician, plumber, etc.
NOC Skill Type C - are intermediate jobs that you qualify for with a high school education or specific training such as a truck driver, waitress (food and beverage server), butcher, receptionist, housekeeper, etc.
As a skilled worker, you also need to show the educational requirements for the job position. Even if it is only high school level, as required by NOC Skill Level C.
Don’t be intimidated by the NOC job titles or duties. If your job title at your place of employment is or was a “CAD Operator”, for example, if you search for that title, nothing will come up. That does not mean your job doesn't qualify, it may just have a different title, using this classification, so you have to do a bit of looking. A CAD Operator, or drafter, is called an Architectural Technologist on the NOC system, for example.
Once you have completed employment under one of these classifications, you have checked the next eligibility box.
With these two combinations, “foreign” and “skilled worker”, per the definition above, you need to find a job that is being offered by an employer on the designated list of employers, and receive a formal, full-time job offer from the employer. Part of your preparation to move to Canada is a settlement plan. This is a requirement of the program. Settlement plans are free and are designed to help you to prepare and adjust to your new home in Atlantic Canada. There are several settlement service providers available through the government of Canada website. https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/immigrate-canada/atlantic-immigration/settlement-service-provider-organizations.html
Settlement services are meant for helping you AFTER you have found a job. They do not provide assistance with your job hunt.
With your job offer, certificate of endorsement from your employer and settlement plan you will prepare your permanent resident application and/or work permit. The certificate of endorsement is provided by your employer to prove that the province has approved the job offer, meaning you the candidate, and the job position meets the requirements of the Atlantic Immigration Program.
The processing time for the permanent resident application is about 12 months, subject to change. Given this timeline, you may apply for a temporary work permit to move to Atlantic Canada and start working while you wait for your permanent resident application to be approved.
For International Graduates
International graduates have to meet some of the same requirements as skilled workers with the exception of the work experience requirement if the program of study was full-time and at least 2 years. Otherwise, they qualify under the skilled worker category. The international student must also have attended a recognized school in Atlantic Canada and lived in Atlantic Canada during the course of study.
How it works - Proof of funds
The proof of funds required for the Atlantic Immigration program is significantly different and lower than the Express Entry program. A single individual must show $3,327 Canadian dollars However, if you have dependents, like children, or another family member like a spouse, even if they are not coming with you, you have to show proof of funds for them too. Each additional family member is +/- 1000$ extra.
Here is the link to the table from the Government website for the exact amount.
Designated List of Employers
The list of designated employers is available on the government of Canada website. This list will only tell you which employers are approved for hiring internationally through the Atlantic Immigration program. It will not usually tell you which employers are currently hiring or what jobs are available. Each province has its own website to show the list of employers.
You can find this list Here.
Where to find jobs
Some provinces provide job matching services, whereby you can complete a form and the department staff will work on matching your skills with jobs that need to be filled locally, at no cost to you. Newfoundland & Labrador & Nova Scotia are such provinces - https://www.gov.nl.ca/ipgs/empservices/job-matching/ https://isans.ca/program/skillsmatch/
The province of Nova Scotia also provides resources and links to places you can search for jobs - https://novascotiaimmigration.com/work-here/finding-a-job/
Job hunting is a job. No matter where you are looking for a job, in your own country, internationally… It takes some work and patience. The longer way of doing it is to find the list of designated employers. Do a little research on the different provinces, if you don't care which province you want to go to, then start in alphabetical order. From each province's list, look out specifically for company names that sound like they will have a job in your field, for example, “AnyDay Plumbing & Renod Inc.” could have a job for a plumber. Identity all the company names that seem relevant to you, then go to each of their websites and browse the careers section for any postings. If they don’t have a careers section on their websites, send them an email inquiring about a position through the Atlantic Immigration Program with your resume attached. The patience and thick skin you will need is that not all of them will reply and the first go around may not be fruitful but I have learned that this is part of job hunting in Canada. Keep on keeping on. Then move on to the next province and do the same process.
I used to partner with an entity that did this hard work for you, they would find all the designated employers that were hiring, find the job position, and contact information. After covid, the entity changed hands, and I discontinued the partnership. But it is possible for you to do that heavy lifting, and just zone in on companies that are relevant to you. Don't just look for anything, find your NOC code and match it with the companies that have obvious names.
AIP vs LMIA
These two programs are comparable in the context of a job offer. To migrate to Canada using any one of these pathways, you, the applicant have to have a job offer from an employer in Canada.
An LMIA - short for Labour Market Impact Assessment is a document a Canadian employer applies for to show that they cannot find anyone with Canadian status, either citizen or permanent resident. For high-population provinces, or cities, like Toronto, I cannot imagine that this could be an easy process. It is possible but could prove challenging. I tried this program initially, and abandoned ship when it started to get very demanding of company financial information and proving that no one in Canada can do what I do.
In my opinion, the AIP is the program where the LMIA is already done for you, by way of the designated list of employers. Employers have already started there is a labor shortage, the prince has approved it and now you just have to find the right job. It is a simpler process both for the employer and job seeker, compared to the LMIA.
If you are looking for an LMIA-approved job from outside of Canada, this is technically what the AIP is.
Pros & Cons of the Program
Like everything that exists, there are pros and cons; benefits and downsides. The list for either of these can be extensive, but to list a few:
Proof of funds is relatively low compared to other programs.
You can use this program as a pathway to Canada, even if you do not want to remain in Atlantic Canada. Once you have permanent residency, all of Canada is open to you to move around.
Educational requirements and language proficiency are lower compared to other programs
A relatively easy pathway to Canada compared to Express Entry
The job search may be time-consuming and discouraging.
You must remain in Atlantic Canada and the employer you came through the program with until you have permanent residency, which is a minimum of a year.
Pros & Cons of Atlantic Canada
The cost of living is lower than in other popular destinations in Canada like Toronto and Vancouver.
Access to the Ocean & fresh seafood
Low population density, so less competition for jobs, less congestion, and traffic!
Settlement services provided
Possibility of Hurricanes
May not be very multicultural, compared to Toronto.
For more on how to move to Canada, check out my new book below and YouTube channel.