Canada Provincial Nominee Immigration Programs Overview

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All of the provinces and 3 territories have their own provincial immigration programs (known as Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP)), in order to promote immigration policies suited to a province’s economic priorities. As a result, the provinces are receiving an increasing role in the selection of economic immigrants. In 2015, approximately 110,000 economic immigrants were nominated or selected by the provinces, with the Province of Quebec accounting for another 30,000 applicants.

Applying for admission to Canada as a permanent resident under a provincial program will follow a 2-stage process. Applicants who receive PNP nomination can then apply for permanent residence.

In some instances, persons who are otherwise not qualified for admission under one of the Federal programs, may qualify for admission to Canada under a PNP. Some candidates may also qualify for a temporary work permit in the interim, allowing for early entry to Canada for the applicant and their accompanying dependants.

In 2016 and for the foreseeable future, the numbers of immigrants to be granted permanent residence under a PNP or selected by the Province of Quebec is expected to increase.

However, as is the case with most large provincial immigration programs in Canada, the issue of processing delays continues to play an important issue. Quite simply, Canada as a destination attracts considerable interest which far surpasses the processing capacity of immigration programs.

Applying for admission to Canada as a permanent resident will follow a different and generally, far more expedited process (9-15 months in most cases) if the application is approved under a PNP compared to the federal skilled worker program. In some instances persons who are otherwise not qualified for admission under one of the Federal programs, may qualify for admission to Canada under a PNP and may even qualify for a temporary work permit in the interim, allowing for early entry to Canada for the applicant and their accompanying dependants.

Provincial Nominee Program by Province / Territory:

British Columbia Manitoba New Brunswick Newfoundland and Labrador
Alberta Ontario Nova Scotia Northwest Territories
Saskatchewan Quebec Prince Edward Island Yukon
Nunavut

Here is how the provincial programs typically work. Qualified employers nominate a prospective worker under an expedited process which, once approved by the province, enables an application for permanent residence to proceed under a processing stream that completely bypasses the lengthy federal immigration selection process. At the initial stages, qualified employer-sponsored applicants could receive temporary, renewable, work permits, processed at missions outside Canada, or in certain cases, at ports of entry, while their applications for permanent admission are processed by the provincial authorities and thereafter by the federal authorities for medical and security screening. In many instances, applicants can conclude these formalities without ever having to actually return to their former place of habitual residence.

The skilled worker based PNP’s with the exception of Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, generally require an employer to sponsor the application for admission to Canada. Without a government approved employer sponsorship, the application will either not be approved, or will be routinely passed over in favour of applications with an employer sponsored approval.

To qualify as a sponsoring employer, employers under most of the PNP’s must demonstrate sufficient efforts to hire local Canadians and offer competitive terms and conditions of employment that are relevant to a particular occupation. Between provinces, variations exist in the terms and conditions of employment to qualify to sponsor a foreign worker for an occupation.

To qualify as a sponsored employee under PNP, the position being filled must generally conform to a National Occupation Classification skill level of O, A, B; or alternatively, must meet the terms of a particular pilot project designed for a specific critical skill shortage identified by the province. Pilot programs within the provinces are designed for low skilled workers and are limited in scope. Most of the provinces have variations of pilot projects for low skilled occupations.

In many instances persons who are qualified for admission to Canada under a PNP may also qualify for admission under a temporary work permit in the interim, allowing for early entry to Canada for the applicant and their accompanying dependants.

Under all of the PNP’s, it is important to first assess the advantages of either commencing the process with a work permit, or proceeding straight away under PNP. Work permits issued under the low skilled occupations are limited to 24 months duration and generally could not be extended under current rules. Work permits issued for skilled workers can be extended for 4 to 7 years depending on circumstances. Discussions between the provinces and the Federal government have resulted in the “Pilot project for workers with lower levels of formal training” which allows for extensions of work permits issued under the low skilled occupations.

Clearly, this is an area where ongoing involvement, experience and familiarity with each of the programs, the specific industries and the relevant issues, is a major advantage to a prospective applicant.

Accordingly, interested applicants may wish to contact Attorney Colin Singer at csinger@immigration.ca for further information. They may also complete our Free Online Immigration Assessment


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