Rural and Northern Immigration Canada

August 18, 2021: IRCC has published special updates to this program.

If you combine all immigration programs to Canada, you may see more than 50 options. At first, you may get excited, but in reality, most people do not qualify for any of them. Luckily, the government of Canada comes up with new options once in a while. One of the latest immigration options is the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. Of course, a pilot program means authorities will review it after a while. Consequently, they may then either make it permanent, make changes to it or stop it altogether. Thus, if you qualify today, don’t hesitate.

Targetted Communities for Rural and Northern Immigration

This program is for the following communities only.

Of course, IRCC may make changes to this list at any time.

Basic Requirements for Rural and Northern Immigration

You may apply for immigration under the Rural and Northern Pilot only if you meet the following requirements:

  • Have a valid job offer from a local employer
  • Get a recommendation from an approved community
  • Meet the minimum work experience or be exempt as an international student
  • Take an English or French language test and meet the minimum requirements
  • Hold the minimum education credentials
  • Have access to enough settlement funds
  • Show you intend to live in the community

Who is a valid local employer?

A valid local employer must meet the following requirements:

  • It is an active employer in the community
  • The employer has a real opening for the position
  • It has no past issues with the employment law
  • The employer is capable of fulfilling their obligations

In other words, the immigration authorities must make sure the employer genuinely needs the foreign national.

What is a valid job offer?

A valid job offer must be:

  • Permanent (i.e. with no end date),
  • full-time,
  • non-seasonal,
  • matches the experience of the applicant, and
  • the salary is more than the minimum wage posted by Canada Job Bank.

What are the minimum education credentials?

You need to hold a Canadian high school diploma. Of course, if you completed your education outside Canada, then it must be equivalent to a Canadian secondary school diploma or higher. Consequently, you need to refer to one of the following organizations to assess your foreign education credentials:

What is the minimum work experience?

You need to show at least one year of full-time work experience in the past three years. If the job offer is a NOC skill level D, the work experience must be in the same occupation.

Exemption from work experience for International Students

International students who study in Canada could become exempt from work experience requirements. Of course, you need to meet specific criteria.

Exemption for Master’s degree students or higher

If you have completed your Master’s degree or higher in Canada, you do not need to show work experience if,

  • you were a full-time student in Canada,
  • the program you attended was in the same community you want to immigrate, and
  • you obtained your degree in less than 18 months since the submission of the application.

Exemption for other international students

If you have completed your studies in Canada, you do not need to show work experience if,

  • you were a full-time student in Canada,
  • your program was at least two years,
  • at least 16 months of the program you attended was in the same community you want to immigrate, and
  • you obtained your degree in less than 18 months since the submission of the application.

Regardless of the credentials, you are not exempt under the following circumstances:

  • at least half of the program was online or distance learning,
  • you were using a scholarship that mandates you to go back to your home country, or
  • at least half of the program was English or French learning.

Which skill levels are acceptable?

Luckily Rural and Northern Immigration accept all skill levels. However, depending on the job offer, your skill level must meet the following table.

Job Offer NOC Skill Level Work Experience NOC Skill Level
0 0 or A
A 0, A, or B
B A, B, or C
C B or C
D Experience in the same job as the job offer


If you are not familiar with the concept of NOC, read the following article:

What are the minimum language requirements?

The minimum language requirements depend on the job offer skill level. You need to take at least an official language test. The following tables show the list of acceptable tests and their minimum scores.

Minimum scores for NOC 0 or A job offers

Test Language Speaking Listening Reading Writing
CELPIP English 6 6 6 6
IELTS General English 5.5 5.5 5.0 5.5
TEF Canada French 271 217 181 271
TCF Canada French 7 398 406 7


Minimum scores for NOC B job offers

Test Language Speaking Listening Reading Writing
CELPIP English 5 5 5 5
IELTS General English 5.0 5.0 4.0 5.0
TEF Canada French 226 181 151 226
TCF Canada French 6 369 375 6


Minimum scores for NOC C or D job offers

Test Language Speaking Listening Reading Writing
CELPIP English 4 4 4 4
IELTS General English 4.0 4.5 3.5 4.0
TEF Canada French 181 145 121 181
TCF Canada French 4 331 342 4


Consider the following:

  • The figures above are minimums. You need to meet the minimum under each ability (i.e. speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Even if your score falls under the minimum for one of the abilities, you may not apply.
  • You need to know one of the official languages of Canada only. However, if you know both, take two tests: one in French and the other in English.
  • If you present multiple test results for the same language, the officer considers the newest test results. Nonetheless, they do not combine test results.

The key to Rural and Northern Immigration

While this immigration option seems tempting, consider a key factor: Job Offer! Regardless of your work experience or credentials, you may not apply if you do not have a job offer. Of course, you also need to receive a recommendation from one of the communities.

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Al Parsai, MA, DTM, RCIC
Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

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This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

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Al Parsai

Al Parsai is a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) in Toronto, Canada. He also teaches immigration courses at Ashton College in Vancouver, Canada. Al, who holds a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University, is a member of ICCRC and CAPIC organizations. Al, the CEO of Parsai Immigration Services, has represented thousands of applicants from more than 50 countries to the immigration authorities since January 2011.

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