Canada’s provincial nominee programs (PNPs) are reacting in different ways to the coronavirus crisis.
Some are delaying draws, while others continue to issue invitations to apply, despite the border restrictions being put in place by the federal government.
Canada is in a period of outright instability concerning how coronavirus will impact immigration in the coming months.
One thing for certain is that once this difficult period is over, Canada will return to the immigration policy that is to see it welcome more than 350,000 newcomers per year by 2022.
Below are the responses of the 10 PNPs concerning coronavirus.
British Columbia has announced a number of measures being taken by the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program in response to the coronavirus crisis.
The provincial has closed its Vancouver office to all in-person inquiries and cancelled all in-person interviews, to be rescheduled at a later date.
In a notice posted on the BC PNP website, the province also any delays with document submission, application submission and other responses should be highlighted to staff via email and would be taken into consideration during application processing.
“The health and safety of BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) staff, clients, and the community in which we operate is our top priority,” the notice said.
“As we face this difficult challenge, we are taking steps to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on the BC PNP, while doing our best to give timely and accurate information about our operations.”
The province says it will continue weekly draws for the BC PNP Tech Pilot. It said that while other draws would also continue, they may be less often.
All inquiries via email and phone will be responded to within five business days.
Post-nomination support will also continue, including requests for work permit support letters and changes of employment.
The key change is that “in-person interviews for Entrepreneur Immigration have been cancelled and will be rescheduled when possible.” However, Entrepreneur Stream final reports can still be submitted online.
“Our hearts go out to those who have been affected during these unprecedented times,” the BC notice said.
“We appreciate the people working in healthcare, local communities, and governments around the world who are on the frontlines working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.”
The province of Alberta has declared a public health emergency over COVID-19.
Alberta immigration has introduced a series of special measures and changes due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program.
1) Submitting Applications
Alberta says it will not accept electronic applications. It will only accept applications by mail.
The AINP will now accept copies of all document types including educational transcripts for Post-Graduation Work Permit holders and copies of signatures on forms from candidates, spouses and dependents and representatives.
New candidates can submit an incomplete application if they:
- Meet all selection criteria but are missing documents due to COVID-19.
- Give an explanation in writing as to why the documents are missing.
- Give evidence they have requested the documents, or evidence the issuing organization is not issuing documents due to coronavirus.
- Alberta Opportunity Stream: they include either valid language results or proof of registration for a language testing session on or before October 29, 2020.
- Alberta Express Entry Stream: they include valid language results and an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), if applicable.
NOTE: New applications that do not meet these requirements will be declined.
Current candidates who cannot provide documents due to COVID-19 must provide:
- A written explanation as to why the documents cannot be acquired.
- Evidence they have requested the documents, or evidence the issuing organization is not issuing documents due to coronavirus.
2) Application Assessment
Where applications are incomplete due to COVID-19 or information cannot be verified, they will be placed on hold for 60 days from mailing date for new applications, or 60 days from assessment date for current applications.
The 60-day hold is renewable up to six months. After six months, a decision will be made based on the information available at the time.
Candidates must contact the AINP in the event of changes to employment, contact details or family status.
3) Alberta Opportunity Stream
New and current Alberta Opportunity Stream candidates who are working from home due to government social distancing directives may be eligible for nomination.
Candidates still working for and performing some of the duties in their job description may be eligible, provided they can demonstrate they will be returning to their regular job duties after the pandemic.
New and current candidates who change employer or are working from home during the pandemic will have their applications placed on hold for 60 days.
The following candidates will have their applications put on hold for 60 days to allow them time to meet criteria:
- Candidates who have had a change in their employment circumstances, specifically those who are:
- Unemployed or not working full-time.
- Working in an ineligible occupation
- Working in or have a job offer for a different occupation than the one included in their application.
- Working in or have a job offer for a different occupation than their work experience.
- Post-Graduation Work Permit holders working in an occupation unrelated to their field of study.
- Working in Canada but may no longer have authorization for work being completed due to a change in job duties, employer, location and/or wage.
- Candidates who:
- Have moved from an eligible work permit to an ineligible work permit to maintain employment.
- Are working in a regulated occupation in Alberta who cannot meet licensure/registration requirements.
- Have an ineligible language test.
4) Alberta Express Entry Stream
Draws and nominations will continue for the Alberta Express Entry Stream.
Only candidates living and working in Alberta will be considered for a nomination.
Until further notice, Alberta will not process applications from candidates with no recent employment history in the province, including those who have received a Notification of Interest letter and those whose applications were already being assessed for eligibility.
The following criteria must be met to receive a nomination:
- Employer must be incorporated or registered and operating as a business that has an established production capability, plant or place of business in Alberta.
- Candidates must be currently working in Alberta.
- Those working from home or elsewhere due to government social distancing directives may be eligible for nomination if they meet all other criteria.
- Those working virtually from outside Alberta are not eligible.
- Candidates must have a work permit authorizing them to work in their occupation in Alberta.
- The work must be:
- Full-time (minimum of 30 hours/week).
- Wages must meet minimum wage and meet or exceed requirements set out in a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), or meet or exceed the lowest prevailing wage for the position.
- In an eligible occupation. See Alberta immigration ineligible occupations.
- The following are ineligible:
- Candidates with a job offer for part-time, casual or seasonal employment regardless of working hours.
- Independent contractors, business owners or temporary agency workers.
The following will have their application put on hold for 60 days:
- Candidates who were working in Alberta prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but are currently not working full-time.
- Candidates working in a regulated occupation in Alberta but cannot meet licensure/registration requirements.
The province of Saskatchewan has declared a state of emergency over COVID-19.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program has postponed Entrepreneur Expression of Interest draws until further notice.
It has not issued guidance concerning EOI draws for its Saskatchewan Express Entry and Occupations In-Demand streams.
The province of Manitoba has not yet declared a state of emergency over COVID-19, although the provincial response to the virus is well underway.
There has been no specific response from the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program.
The province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency over COVID-19.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program post a response on its website saying it is continuing to process applications and issue nominations.
However, it said processing times may increase given applicants may experience delays obtaining information from third-party organizations.
Employer Job Offer Stream: COVID-19 Guidance
1) Permanent, full-time position required
- Applicant must have a job offer in a role that has been approved by the OINP.
- Role must meet all prescribed employer and position criteria.
- Role must be permanent, full-time and meet wage criteria (median or low wage).
Ontario states: “We cannot approve an application if an employee has been terminated and the employment relationship no longer exists.”
2) Application submitted to OINP but not processed
Applicants and employers are required to notify the OINP of any change to an application, including changes to job offers.
Ontario states: “We will be reaching out to all employers to confirm that job offers/employment positions still meet program criteria.”
Scenario 1: No change
Where there are no changes to the job offer, the OINP will continue to assess the application.
Scenario 2: Job offer rescinded or employment terminated
Where a job offer or employment position is no longer available, the application cannot be approved. The application will be considered incomplete and the application fee refunded.
Scenario 3: Temporary layoff
Where a job offer or employment position has been affected by a temporary layoff due to COVID-19, but otherwise meets criteria, applications will be held for 90 days.
3) Application approved by OINP and candidate nominated
Notice requirements: nomination approved
The nominee’s terms of employment must remain consistent throughout the nomination period until permanent residence, including employer, job title and duties, wage, hours of work and location.
Nominees and employers are advised to notify the OINP of any changes. The approval might be cancelled if the above conditions are not met and if employment is terminated.
Nominees do not need to contact the OINP unless the employer has withdrawn the job offer or terminated employment.
Employers should notify the OINP of any changes to employment terms, excluding temporary layoffs.
Where a job offer or employment position has been affected by a temporary layoff due to COVID-19, but otherwise meets criteria, Ontario will continue to support the nomination, but may ask for more information from employers.
Employer response scenarios after nomination
Scenario 1: No change
Where there are no changes to the job offer, the OINP will continue to support the nomination.
Scenario 2: Job offer rescinded or employment terminated
Where the nominee’s employment has been terminated due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario will cancel the approval of the position.
Nominees will get 90 days to find another employer and be given the opportunity to submit a new application.
Candidates who have received an Invitation to Apply through the Entrepreneur Stream will have their 90-day submission deadline temporarily extended.
Candidates who have submitted a completed application and are facing challenges due to COVID-19 should contact Ontario will further details.
Ontario offers the following examples of challenges:
- Delays obtaining information that relates to the monitoring of an application.
- Candidate forced to temporarily close, suspend, or alter business operations.
- Candidates temporarily unable to fulfill hiring and employer requirements.
Ontario states: “The OINP will continue to address the specific concerns of applicants as they arise.”
No refusal of application or cancellation of nomination without notice
Ontario states: “No application will be denied and no approvals will be cancelled without notifying the applicant and employer. We will carefully review responses to these notices before making a final decision.”
The province of Quebec has declared a state of emergency over COVID-19.
Quebec Guidance For Permanent Immigration Candidates
The Quebec Immigration Ministry says requests for permanent immigration continue to be processed, although government measures ‘could have an impact on the processing times for requests’.
Quebec Guidance For Temporary Foreign Workers
Temporary foreign workers with a work permit about to expire or already expired, and who have lost their jobs, are advised to follow federal guidance on what to do next. They may be able to extend their stay, switch to a visitor visa or qualify for a Temporary Resident Permit, depending on their situation.
TFWs with a pending application for an extension to an initial work permit, and have lost their jobs, are advised to take the same steps as above.
TFWs on open work permits who have lost their jobs are advised to do the same, although the guidance points out that they are free to search for a new job.
All three categories of TFW mentioned above may qualify for financial assistance through Quebec’s Temporary Aid For Workers Program, as well as similar federal programs.
Applicants for the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) who have accumulated the required year of full-time experience, but lost their job due to COVID-19, have been told that they must be employed when submitting an application.
The year of experience accumulated will likely still count towards their application, as the PEQ requires 12 months of work experience in the last 24 months. It means that once they find another job, they are eligible to apply for the PEQ, provided their work experience is in the last 24 months.
Applicants for the Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) who had not accumulated the required year of full-time experience, but lost their job due to COVID-19, can still count the time worked towards their application.
They can submit their application once they have resumed employment and accumulated 12 months of full-time work in Quebec in the previous 24 months.
Quebec Guidance For International students
Ministry of Immigration, Francisation, and Integration guidance for international students applying for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) is that requests for temporary selection are still being processed.
“Temporary residents must maintain a valid temporary immigration status at all times,” the guidance says.
For international students who have had their course suspended and were working towards a diploma to submit a Quebec Experience Program (PEQ) application, the MIFI guidance simply clarified the program requirements.
Candidates must have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate university degree, a diploma of technical college studies or a diploma of vocational studies at the secondary level which, alone or with a certificate of professional specialization obtained consecutively, certifies 1,800 hours or more of continuous training and leads to a given trade.
MIFI says it is closely monitoring the development of the coronavirus situation and will provide continuous updates.
It has suspended all full-time and part-time French courses currently offered in educational institutions and through community organizations.
Allowances as part of the Financial Assistance Program for the Francization of Immigrants (PAFILI) will continue to be paid until the end of the course suspension for full-time students and until the end of the current session for part-time students.
The reception of the Direction of the Registrar of Francization located on the second floor of 1200, Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal is closed until further notice.
Those who had appointments will be contacted. Documents can be sent by mail or dropped in the document deposit box located on the ground floor of 1200, Saint-Laurent Boulevard in Montreal.
Information and integration sessions for newcomers are also suspended until further notice. All Journées Quebec recruitment missions are also suspended.
The province of New Brunswick has declared a state of emergency over COVID-19.
The New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program says it is continuing to accept and process applications for its economic immigration streams.
A statement said that there may be delays in the processing of files due to coronavirus.
New Brunswick has announced it is restricting inter-provincial migration to help the fight against the spread of coronavirus.
Provincial ‘peace officers’ are authorized to turn away visitors trying to enter the province from Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. All unnecessary travel into New Brunswick is prohibited in a move aimed to half the spread of COVID-19.
All travellers entering the province from the three neighbouring will, like international travellers, be required to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.
Inter-provincial travellers will be stopped and required to produce identification. Their contact information and intended destination will be collected, even if they are only passing through the province.
The province says commercial traffic and essential workers will be exempt from the restrictions, “so that services are maintained and critical supplies can continue to move across provincial boundaries unimpeded.”
Exemptions also include police officers, firefighters, paramedics and members of the military.
The province of Nova Scotia has not yet declared a state of emergency over COVID-19, although the provincial response to the virus is well underway.
The Nova Scotia Nominee Program has not issued a specific coronavirus-related response.
The province of Prince Edward Island has not yet declared a state of emergency over COVID-19, although the provincial response to the virus is well underway. The Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program postponed its Expression of Interest draw scheduled for Thursday, March 19. The PEI Office of Immigration says it is currently providing essential services only. Candidates who have been invited to apply are advised to call 902-620-3628 to schedule a time to deliver their file. For general inquiries, call 902-620-3628 or email [email protected].
The province of Prince Edward Island has not yet declared a state of emergency over COVID-19, although the provincial response to the virus is well underway.
The Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program postponed its Expression of Interest draw scheduled for Thursday, March 19.
The PEI Office of Immigration says it is currently providing essential services only.
Candidates who have been invited to apply are advised to call 902-620-3628 to schedule a time to deliver their file.
For general inquiries, call 902-620-3628 or email [email protected].
The Newfoundland & Labrador Office of Immigration says it will continue essential services for newcomers and employers during the coronavirus crisis. Application screening and processing will continue at reduce volume, a statement said. The Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) continues to accept applications online, but paper applications are no longer being accepted.
The Newfoundland & Labrador Office of Immigration says it will continue essential services for newcomers and employers during the coronavirus crisis.
Application screening and processing will continue at reduce volume, a statement said.
The Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) continues to accept applications online, but paper applications are no longer being accepted.
The same applies to applications for the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) in the province.
“Employees who are in the process of providing documentation to employers as part of an AIP application should do so electronically,” the statement said.
Employers should scan and send AIP applications by email.
The statement says designated employers under the AIP will remain designated until further notice and Job Vacancy Assessment (JVA) applications will continue to be processed.
Candidates Outside Canada, Permanent Residence Applications
For candidates currently outside Canada, Newfoundland says application will continue to be processed, “but you will probably not be able to arrive in Canada in the near future,” due to federal government restrictions. However, the federal government has announced a number of exemptions to the ban on people entering Canada.
Candidates who have submitted permanent residence applications should “wait until there is communication on alternative ways to land in Canada,” the statement said. Biometrics submission for applicants is currently suspended until April 13.
Contact and Information Sessions
The Office of Immigration has an email service for candidates directly impacted by coronavirus-related issues.
Information sessions with international students and graduates, plus public and employers are currently suspended. Webinars continue to be available, the statement said.
This page will be updated as and when provincial responses related to immigration are published.