Canada announces extension to the Agri-Food Pilot, facilitating access to permanent residence for workers and their families 

May 8, 2023—L’Orignal, Ontario— The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of supporting the agri-food sector’s labour market needs and strengthening Canada’s food supply system. One key to success for Canadian farmers and food processors is their ability to recruit and retain a skilled workforce.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the extension of the Agri-Food Pilot, which will now run until May 14, 2025. Launched in May 2020, the pilot helps facilitate the transition of experienced workers in agricultural and food industries to permanent residence in Canada.

To support employers and candidates, the Minister also announced the removal of the annual occupational caps, or the limits for how many candidates can apply for a specific occupation under the pilot. Removing these limits will provide an opportunity for more eligible candidates to apply. By the end of the year, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) intends to introduce new changes to the pilot in stages, including

  • 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

Together, these changes are a significant step in meeting the longstanding labour market needs of employers in the meat processing, mushroom, greenhouse crop production and livestock-raising industries by helping fill ongoing labour needs with full-time, year-round employees. They also provide wider support to applicants and their family members, reduce barriers and vulnerability for candidates, and expand the pathway to permanent residence for experienced workers in these industries.

The Agri-Food Pilot complements Canada’s existing suite of economic immigration programs, which includes the Atlantic Immigration Program, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot, the caregivers pilots, the Global Skills Strategy, Express Entry, and the Provincial Nominee Program. It continues to promote the skills and labour required in the agriculture and agri-food sector while also providing an opportunity for these workers to settle in Canada and contribute to our economy.

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