Agri-Food PilotCanada Immigration Update

Canada Extends Agri-Food Pilot Until 2025

Published on: May 9th, 2023

The IRCC has announced an extension of the Agri-Food Immigration pilot and the decision to lift annual occupational caps for program participants. 

Pilot Updates

On Monday, the IRCC announced an update to the Agril-Food Pilot. The program which was set to end on May 14th, 2023 has been extended to May 2025. The pilot was launched in 2020 to help facilitate the transition of experienced workers in the agricultural and food industries to permanent residence in Canada. The goal was to help reduce labour shortages in meat processing, greenhouse production and livestock-raising industries. 

The annual occupational caps will also be lifted. Originally the cap was set at a maximum of 2,750 applications a year. The IRCC stated that removing these limits would allow for more eligible candidates to apply. 

By the end of the year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) intend to introduce these new changes to the pilot in stages:

  • expanding open work permit access to family members of all participants in the Agri-Food Pilot—regardless of the participant’s job skill level;
  • allowing unions to attest to a candidate’s work experience, as an alternative to employer reference letters;
  • giving applicants residing in Canada the option to either meet the job offer requirement, including the median wage requirement for the job offer, or the education requirement, including educational credential assessment verification;
  • accepting work experience gained under an open work permit for vulnerable workers, giving more workers an opportunity to qualify.

These changes are a significant step in meeting labour market needs of difficult-to-fill roles in meat processing, mushroom, greenhouse crop production and livestock-raising industries by helping to fill roles will full-time, year-round employees. The new changes will also provide wider support to applicants and their family members and expand the pathway for permanent residence for experienced workers in these industries. 

Agri-Food Pilot Program Eligibility

To be eligible for this program, candidates must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Work experience: 12 months of full-time, non-seasonal Canadian work experience in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program in an eligible occupation in processing meat products, raising livestock, or growing mushrooms or greenhouse crops;
  • Job offer: Have a full-time, non-seasonal job offer from a Canadian employer in of the eligible industries and occupations outside of Quebec;
  • Language: Obtain a Canadian Language Benchmark level 4 in English or French;
  • Education: Canadian equivalency of high-school level or greater.

Eligible Occupations Under This Pilot

The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:

Meat product manufacturing (NAICS 3116):

  • NOC 63201 – Butchers – retail and wholesale
  • NOC 65202 – Meat cutters and fishmongers – retail and wholesale
  • NOC 94141 – Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
  • NOC 82030 – Agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors
  • NOC 84120 – Specialized livestock workers and farm machinery operators
  • NOC 85100 – Livestock labourers
  • NOC 95106 – Labourers in food and beverage processing

For greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production (NAICS 1114):

  • NOC 82030 – Agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors
  • NOC 84120 – Specialized livestock workers and farm machinery operators
  • NOC 85100 – Livestock labourers
  • NOC 85101 – Harvesting labourers

For animal production, excluding aquaculture (NAICS 1121, 1122, 1123, 1124 and 1129): 

  • NOC 82030 – Agricultural service contractors and farm supervisors
  • NOC 84120 – Specialized livestock workers and farm machinery operators
  • NOC 85100 – Livestock labourers
  • NOC 85101 – Harvesting labourers

What is the Agri-Food Pilot?

The Agri-Food pilot offers a pathway to permanent residence for agricultural workers in Canada. In recent years, Canadian agriculture and agri-food industries have struggled to fill labour shortages and workers have had to rely on short-term, seasonal work permits in order to find employment. The pilot aims to attract and retain workers by offering a pathway to permanent residence in Canada, allowing workers and their families to work and live in Canada for as long as they like.

 

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