December 14, 2020—Ottawa—Today, the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship announced changes to make the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) more flexible for applicants and welcomed the first two practical nurses under the Pilot to Sault St. Marie.

The Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven program that spreads the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities. It helps these communities to attract the workers they need by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers.

Under the changes to the program, candidates will no longer have to obtain eligible work experience over a continuous period of time. Instead, they can demonstrate that they have accumulated the required 1 year of eligible work experience (1,560 hours) in the 3 years preceding their application, even if there were breaks in their employment. The policy applies to all applications received under the Pilot, as well as all future applications going forward.

Altering this requirement ensures that candidates are not penalized for short breaks in their employment history, including temporary work interruptions or layoffs caused by the pandemic.

Individuals must still meet all other existing admissibility and program requirements, including the recommendation process in the participating RNIP community in which they wish to settle.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has also introduced a temporary measure that allows RNIP applicants who are waiting for a decision on their permanent residence application to apply for a work permit without being penalized due to processing delays caused by the pandemic.

These measures come as IRCC announces the first permanent residents accepted under RNIP. Minister Mendicino spoke of how proud he was to welcome Alexander Nangpukin Likilasua and Brilla Mercy Kunjumon, who are working as licensed practical nurses in Sault Ste. Marie, and how grateful he is for their service and dedication to their patients during the pandemic.