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IRCC Lifted the Occupational Cap and Extended the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot

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IRCC Lifted the Occupational Cap and Extended the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot

IRCC has announced the extension of the Agri-Food Immigration pilot and the removal of annual occupational caps for program participants.

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced on May 8th that the Agri-Food Pilot Program will be extended until May 14, 2025. The program aims to assist experienced workers in the agricultural and food industries to transition to permanent residence in Canada.

The Minister revealed the elimination of annual occupational caps. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) believe that removing these restrictions will enable more eligible candidates to apply. IRCC also plans to implement additional changes by the end of the year.

New Changes to the Pilot

The pilot program will undergo a series of phased changes, including:

  • Granting unions the authority to validate a candidate’s work experience as an alternative to employment reference letters.
  • Expanding access to open work permits for family members of program participants, irrespective of their job skill level.
  • Providing applicants residing in Canada with the choice to meet either the job offer requirement, which includes the median wage stipulation, or fulfill the education requirement, including verification through an educational credential assessment.
  • Accepting work experience acquired under an open work permit for vulnerable workers, thereby enabling more workers to meet the qualification criteria, as per IRCC.

Agri-Food Immigration Pilot

Launched in 2020, Canada’s Agri-Food Immigration Pilot aimed to address labor shortages in industries such as meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, and livestock raising.

Initially, IRCC announced an annual admission of up to 2,750 principal applicants and their family members for three consecutive years.

The pilot’s application deadline was set to expire on May 14, 2023.

According to recent job vacancy data from February 2023, the Agriculture, Hunting, Fishing, and Forestry sector employs over 243,000 individuals in Canada, with over 14,000 vacant positions. The industry suffered significant setbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including plant closures, market fluctuations, and disruptions in the supply chain.

IRCC Lifted the Occupational Cap and Extended the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot

Meat Processing Industry

For employers in the meat processing sector seeking to utilize the pilot program, a two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) will be granted. The employer must submit a detailed plan outlining their commitment to assisting the temporary foreign worker in obtaining permanent residency.

According to IRCC, unionized meat processors must obtain a letter of support from their union. In contrast, non-unionized processors must fulfill additional requirements to safeguard the labor market and migrant workers.

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Which Occupations Qualify for Agri-Food Immigration Pilot?

The pilot program includes the following eligible occupations and industries:

  1. Greenhouse, floriculture production, and nursery, including mushroom production:
  • General Farm Workers
  • Farm Supervisors and Specialized Livestock Workers
  • Harvesting Laborers
  1. Animal Production
  • General Farm Workers
  • Farm Supervisors and Specialized Livestock Workers
  1. Meat Product Manufacturing
  • Industrial Butchers
  • Food Processing Laborers
  • Retail Butchers
  • Farm Supervisors and Specialized Livestock Workers

IRCC Lifted the Occupational Cap and Extended the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot

Eligibility Requirements for Candidates

In order to be eligible for the program, candidates must fulfill the following additional requirements:

  • Possess 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in one of the eligible occupations through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
  • Secure an indeterminate job offer for full-time, non-seasonal employment in Canada (excluding Quebec) at a wage equal to or higher than the prevailing rate.
  • Attain a Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in either English or French.
  • Hold an educational qualification equivalent to or greater than a high school level.

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