Alberta is home to thousands of faith communities from a diverse range of religious traditions, many of whom depend on clergy and other religious workers from abroad to support their liturgical, pastoral and spiritual needs. However, currently there is no clear pathway for such workers to seek or obtain permanent residency in Alberta, meaning that many well-established religious workers who develop close ties to their communities have to leave the country after the expiry of their period of temporary residency.
To ensure that religious organizations can better serve their congregations, Alberta’s government is taking steps to attract these workers under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program.
“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.”
Religious newcomer professionals are now eligible to apply under the Alberta Opportunity Stream, Alberta Express Entry Stream and Rural Renewal Stream to work with religious organizations and settle permanently in the province. Applicants must have a job offer from an Alberta-based faith organization and meet the existing criteria under the program, including language, education and wage requirements.
“Many of Alberta’s cultural communities rely on spiritual leadership to help maintain their connection to their roots and to prepare for future challenges. Making it easier for spiritual leaders to come to Alberta is an important step to recognize the needs of immigrants and to help them make a home in our province.”
“Alberta’s diversity is a critical part of our province’s future success. This announcement is another step that Alberta’s government is taking to strengthen our province with newcomers who can support the diverse religious and spiritual practices of Albertans.”
The changes align Alberta with other provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, which allow religious workers to apply under their provincial immigration programs.
The Government of Alberta will continue to monitor the labour market and make changes to the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program to ensure it supports Alberta’s economy and communities.
- The Alberta Advantage Immigration Program is a federal-provincial program that nominates individuals for permanent residence in Alberta if they have skills to fill job shortages or are planning to buy or start a business in Alberta.
- Religious workers can apply to the program under the Alberta Opportunity Stream, Rural Renewal Stream and the Alberta Express Entry Stream if they meet existing eligibility criteria.
- The Alberta Opportunity Stream is for temporary foreign workers who are already working in Alberta and have a full-time job offer from an Alberta employer in an eligible occupation.
- The Rural Renewal Stream is for individuals who have a community-supported job offer to work in one of Alberta’s designated rural communities.
- The Alberta Express Entry Stream allows Alberta to nominate qualified candidates from the federal Express Entry system who demonstrate strong ties to Alberta or are working in an occupation that supports Alberta’s economic development and diversification.