Try It, Taste It, Love It: The Morden City Phenomenon
Manitoba’s “immigration incubator” is a hidden gem for potential newcomers
The first thing you hear when trying to explain Morden city’s immigration pilot is: “What? A population of only 10,000? What are we going to do there? That’s too small!” The next thing you hear about the city is from those who have finally settled there: “I never thought I’d be so happy or would have accomplished so much in this city!”
The year 2012 was the start of Morden city’s immigration pilot. Since that time, it is the only city in Canada to have its own community-driven immigration stream within the framework of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP).
The idea was a brilliant one, as the city had been desperate for immigrants to cover employment and community growth needs. And unlike other cities that have tried but failed to introduce separate immigration streams, Morden was able to create a perfectly structured immigration initiative that resulted in excellent retention rates — not only are people coming through the Morden stream, they are also staying and contributing to the city, making it bigger, better, and culturally unique.
Morden’s immigration stream has numerous advantages. It is open throughout the year and accepts applications from all over the world. However, the stream has a wide range of requirements that candidates must satisfy. Potential Mordenites must satisfy Manitoba PNP requirements before meeting a set of federal “must-haves” for provincial nominees. This makes the application sound arduous, but for some it’s the simplest way to immigrate to Canada.
If you are ready to try Morden immigration, you must be able to demonstrate English language skills, have specific in-demand experience, possess no connections to other provinces, and intend to settle in Morden. Compared to all other streams and programs in Canada, all you need in English is Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5, which means IELTS with a 5 in Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking modules; this applies if you are professional in a trade skill (e.g. welder, carpenter, cook, baker, heavy equipment mechanic, etc.).
Unlike trade skills professionals, if you are a highly skilled specialist, such as a construction or transportation manager, food service supervisor, or veterinary technician, then you must have a federal Express Entry profile in order to apply. The last would mean your English should not be less than IELTS with a 6 in all modules, and sometimes higher; your language skills must be sufficient to earn 67 points under the Federal Skilled Worker Class to enter Express Entry.
Candidates selected by Morden are invited to a Skype interview. If selected, the principal applicant (at least) must undertake an exploratory visit of at least five days to the city in order to explore it in person. This allows officials to decide whether a candidate is suitable for the Morden community on personal, professional, and cultural grounds.
The cherry on top of this multi-storied cake would be passing the immigration interview with a Manitoba officer following the exploratory visit; indeed, the interview justifies the necessity of the exploratory visit. It is at this point the paper action begins. Once you get through the above steps successfully, you will receive an invitation to apply from the MPNP, meaning that you have earned 500+ points out of 1000 from the MPNP Expression of Interest grid for community support. For the majority of candidates it means that the MPNP Expression of Interest step is quite formal, as with such support you get the right to submit the full package of documents for the Manitoba nomination certificate, receiving it in 3 to 4 months.
(We are now halfway through the process!)
When you receive provincial nomination, there are two roads to choose from for further processing:
- Road #1: trade skilled professionals apply for permanent residence to the federal government on paper — application forms and documents are sent to the Centralized Intake Office in Nova Scotia. The processing may take from 12 to 19 months with a medical check at the end
- Road #2: highly skilled specialists with a federal Express Entry profile apply online with the support of provincial nomination that, in turn, gives 600+ points to their Express Entry profile. The processing takes from 2 to 6 months with a medical check prior to full application submission
Can you choose road #2 from the very beginning to optimize the processing time? Yes! Even if you are a trade skill professional, your skill level is still NOC 0, A, or B, plus you have solid English language skills — you can initially create an Express Entry profile and be confident in a relatively quick process.
Another interesting difference with the Morden stream in particular — and Manitoba in general — is that presently you do not need to perform an educational credentials assessment (ECA) while outside the Express Entry pool. With the Morden stream, the possibility of permanent residence and/or obtaining an immigrant visa is truly in your own hands.
Morden is also unique for its newcomers’ support. Not only does the city organize your move from Winnipeg to Morden, with all your luggage, kids, and pets (if applicable), it also provides transitional apartments where you can stay as long as you want until you find suitable accommodations. You will also get to meet the city’s mayor! Morden volunteers help you in each step towards successful and smooth settlement, and the employers are waiting for you. On average, it may take from 10 to 30 days after landing to find your first job in the city.
Where to work in Morden, you may ask… Although it is not obvious, Morden has a lot of manufacturing, construction, and agricultural companies that happily employ newcomers. The city boasts sewing factories, maintenance and repair shops, a variety of restaurants and cafes, all types of stores, schools, kindergartens, colleges, and more. No wonder people find employment here in no time.
Don’t forget that because you are immigrating with Morden’s support you will receive permanent resident status in Canada, which means you can work in any occupation, open your own business, study at school and, finally, live in any part of Canada, should you decide to move. Through the Morden stream, hundreds of families have found their homes, opened their businesses, and purchased their first homes less than one year after arriving. It’s worth emphasizing that the median price of a Morden house is around CAD $280,000, which is an extremely affordable option for newcomers.
Morden can be considered an immigration incubator — it’s a place where locals take care of newcomers until they become locals themselves, contributing in turn to this unique and fantastic mission of making people’s dreams of a happy life in Canada come true.