Under a shared jurisdiction between Ottawa and the provinces, Canada operates a two-tiered immigration system, offering programs for skilled workers, at both federal and provincial levels.
Through a network of Nominee Programs (PNP), almost all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories can nominate skilled worker candidates for admission to Canada with the specific skills required by their local economies. Successful candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination can then apply for Canadian permanent residence through federal immigration authorities. This is an important component of all provincial programs.
Many provinces also run their own categories under the Canada Express Entry System. As a result, the provinces have an increasing role in the selection of economic immigrants.
In some instances, candidates who do not qualify 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.
Many of the large provincial programs face problems with processing delays. Canada attracts considerable interest from potential new immigrants, far surpassing the processing capacity of immigration programs.
The Canada Express Entry system has successfully tackled processing delays, while many of the provinces are now choosing to open and close their popular streams periodically throughout the year to avoid large backlogs.
Under some provincial programs, candidates are nominated by a prospective employer and, once approved by the province, are subject to an expedited process. In the initial stages, applicants can receive temporary, renewable work permits to enter Canada while they are being processed for permanent residence.
The skilled worker-based provincial programs, with the exception of Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, generally require an employer to sponsor the applicant 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.
Sponsoring employers under most provincial programs 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.
To qualify as a sponsored employee, the position being filled must generally conform to a National Occupation Classification (NOC) skill type 0 or level 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.