Canada launches Agri-Food Immigration Pilot

The long-awaited Canadian immigration program will provide a pathway to permanent residence for workers in certain agri-food industries.

Applications are now being accepted for the Agri-Food Immigration Pilot.

The pilot is intended to address the labour needs of Canadian employers in the meat processing, mushroom and greenhouse production, and livestock-raising industries. Temporary visa holders who are already in Canada working in these fields will be able to apply for permanent residence under the new pilot.

Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will admit up to 2,750 principal applicants plus their family members annually for the next three years under the pilot. Applications are being accepted from now until May 14, 2023, according to an IRCC media release.


Canadian employers in the agri-food sector have been calling on the federal government to help them recruit and retain the workforce they need to operate. The pilot’s intended launch date was supposed to be at the end of March but was delayed due to the global coronavirus pandemic. It provides an option for temporary foreign workers (TFWs) with agri-food work experience to gain permanent residence.

The Agri-Food Immigration Pilot does not include the province of Quebec, which has its own immigration system. However, Quebec employers who hire non-seasonal temporary foreign workers can benefit from the two-year Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) that is part of the pilot, as long as the worker’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) code is eligible. They can then apply for a permanent selection from Quebec through the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ).

The occupations and industries eligible under the pilot include:

  • Meat product manufacturing;
    • Retail butchers
    • Industrial butchers
    • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • Food processing labourers.
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production;
    • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • General farm workers
    • Harvesting labourers.
  • Animal production excluding aquaculture;
    • Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
    • General farm workers.

The agriculture and agri-food industry supports 1 in 8 jobs across the country. In 2019, agriculture exports hit a record $67 billion.

“Attracting and retaining talented workers is essential to help grow our economy and improve the living standards of all Canadians,” Marco Mendicino, Canada’s minister of immigration, said in the release. “The Agri-Food Pilot will attract applicants for permanent residence who have worked in Canada, who can economically establish in Canada, and who support the labour needs of farmers and processors.”

 With