On September 28, 2022, Alberta announced the expansion of its provincial immigration programme to accept applications from religious employees who support their communities’ spiritual and pastoral needs.
The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) is a federal-provincial program that nominates people for permanent residence if they have the skills to fill job shortages or plan to buy or start a business in Alberta.
Alberta has thousands of faith communities representing a wide range of religious traditions. These communities rely on clergy and other religious workers from other countries to meet their liturgical, pastoral, and spiritual requirements.
However, these religious workers currently do not have a clear pathway to obtaining permanent residency in Alberta. As a result, many established religious workers who form strong community bonds must leave the country when their temporary residence permit has expired.
The government of Alberta is taking action to attract these workers under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program to ensure that religious organizations can better serve their communities.
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With the new changes, religious newcomer professionals who wish to work for religious groups and establish themselves permanently in the province can apply to the Alberta Opportunity Stream, Alberta Express Entry Stream, and Rural Renewal Stream.
However, candidates must meet the existing program requirements, including language, education, and wage requirements, and receive a job offer from an Alberta-based faith organization.
These changes in Alberta’s program align with other provinces, such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, which allow religious workers to apply under their provincial immigration programs.
To guarantee that the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program helps the province’s economy and communities, the government of Alberta will monitor the labour market and make adjustments as necessary.
Alberta Programs under which religious workers can apply
If religious workers meet the existing eligibility criteria, they can apply to the program through the Alberta Opportunity Stream, the Rural Renewal Stream, or the Alberta Express Entry Stream. Below is the summary of all three programs.
Temporary foreign workers who are already employed in Alberta and have a full-time job offer from an Alberta employer in an eligible occupation are eligible for the Alberta Opportunity Stream.
Moreover, the Rural Renewal Stream is for those with a job offer from a community to work in one of Alberta’s designated rural communities.
At last, the Alberta Express Entry Stream enables Alberta to nominate qualified applicants from the federal Express Entry system who have strong ties to Alberta or are employed in a profession that supports the province’s diversity and economic growth.
Religious faith is a central part of the lives of huge numbers of Albertans. The spiritual health of our society is enlivened by diverse faith communities, all of whom share a commitment to serving the common good, particularly the most vulnerable.
The worship of many faith communities depends on clergy and religious workers from overseas, but until now there has been no clear pathway for religious workers to obtain residency in Alberta.
These changes will align Alberta with the policies of several other provinces, and will underscore the essential role that religious workers play in the health of Alberta communities.Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta.
Source: Government of Alberta
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