Guide: Provincial Nominee Program in Canada
You’ve probably heard of or read about Canada’s immigration programs. There’s quite a number, each with its own unique requirements and application process.
Often, we get asked this question: What is a provincial nominee program (PNP)? Well, today, we’ll be looking into that in detail.
Put simply, this is an immigration program that allows each province (except Quebec) to nominate people who’ve expressed interest in settling in that specific territory.
The PNP program varies from province to province, where each has their own criteria, guidelines, and streams designed for skilled workers, business professionals, and students.
In the end, every province gets to receive immigrants who have the precise knowledge, skills, and work experience relevant to the needs of their current labor market.
Even though the federal government has the final say on who gets permanent residency, securing a provincial nomination will raise the chances of your application going through.
If you are you planning to settle in Canada under this program or simply eager to learn more about it, the following information is just what you need to equip yourself with.
How to Get a Provincial Nomination
One thing worth mentioning before looking at how to get this coveted nomination is that the number of nominations a province can issue every year is set by the federal government.
Once the number is determined, the province then decides how to distribute the nominations among their PNP streams.
In some provinces, immigrants with rich work experience, skill, and knowledge in a field that is on demand get the top priority while in others the privilege is assigned to those who have family members already residing in the province.
That said, you can go about getting your provincial nomination in two ways:
- Inside Express Entry
- Outside Express Entry
Express Entry (EE) an application management system recently introduced by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to help in the management of permanent residence applications.
Let’s briefly take a look at each
Inside Express Entry
Under this category, you will realize that some PNP streams have been linked to the federal EE System. Meaning, for one to qualify, first they must join the EE and have an active profile within its pool of candidates. Most of the PNPs open to potential immigrants fall under this category.
As a foreign national looking to settle in Canada, make it your priority to submit an EE profile. Register your interest in your province of choice within the system. If you are lucky to secure a provincial nomination under this category, you will receive an extra 600 points on top of what you have under the comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
With such points, you are more likely to qualify for the EE draw, but that is once you get a formal invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence (PR) from the PNP you selected.
Outside Express Entry
This category exposes you to PNP streams available outside the federal EE. You can contact the immigration office at the province of your choice and then apply directly for a provincial nomination, regardless of whether or not you are in the EE pool.
If it goes through i.e. the province issues you a nomination, the only thing you will be required to do is create an EE profile then submit an application for PR directly to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as a provincial nominee.
However, unlike the first category, applications processed under this option take relatively longer.
Requirements for Provincial Nominee in Canada
As we mentioned earlier, eligibility varies from province to province. However, there are a few aspects of this eligibility process common in almost all the PNPs in Canada.
The majority of provinces structure their PNPs to attract foreign nationals who are more likely to stay in their territory rather than shift to another place within Canada. To achieve this, they allocate more priority to immigrants with some type of connection to the province. It could be either of the following:
- Family Ties – You have family members who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada residing in the province.
- Education – You pursued and completed your studies in an institution within that province.
- Job Offer/Work Experience – You have a job offer issued by an employer based in the province or you’ve previously worked within their territory.
- Language – Provinces like Ontario mostly have a huge demand for French-speaking workers thus they often design their PNPS to give priority to immigrants proficient in French.
- Property ownership or lease agreement for a residence in Ontario
- Personal relationships or social connections
- Past visits to Ontario
- Professional networks or affiliations
For those planning to immigrate to Ontario, here’s a quick look at what to expect from the PNP.
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)
OINP, in partnership with the federal government, facilitates the immigration of non-Canadian nationals together with their family members to Ontario while at the same time contributing towards economic development, job creation, and retention.
Today, OINP has a total of three major categories immigrants can apply under. They Include:
- Business Category- Comprises two streams: Corporate and Entrepreneur Stream
- Employer Job Offer Category- Streams include Foreign Worker, International Student, and In-Demand Skills.
- Human Capital Category – Includes five streams namely Masters Graduate, Ph.D. Graduate, French-Speaking Skilled Worker, Human Capital Priorities, and Skilled Trades Stream.
Expect a different set of requirements and sub-streams for each category. The three streams aligned with federal EE include Human Capital Priorities, Skilled Trades, and French-Speaking Skilled Worker.
Candidates in the EE pool who qualify for either of the three Ontario EE streams will be issued with a notification of interest from Ontario in order to be eligible.
At the same time, in order to qualify for EE and be considered for a nomination by Ontario province, you must qualify for either of these two federal immigration programs:
- Canadian Experience Class
- Federal Skilled Worker Program
OINP is structured to help in the realization of government priorities, particularly immigration of qualified and competent professionals in the education and healthcare fields, a fact that makes it employer-driven. This implies that if you have a job offer from a pre-screened employer or a nomination from an established international corporation, you stand a better chance of acquiring permanent residence.
Even without a job offer, you can still apply and be accepted under the international student category. Also, if you are an entrepreneur looking to implement a new business idea or acquire an existing business in Ontario, you may be nominated by the province for permanent residence.
To learn more about OINP, check out their immigration website.
When Do I Apply?
The variations in the application process set by each PNPs extend to when to apply as well. In Ontario, most of the streams only accept applications during a specific time of the year.
Usually, the program is open for a short period of time, from just hours to a couple of days, after which it’s then closed since most will have reached their threshold. Visit the Ontario Immigration website more often for new updates.
As for the processing times, the period depends on a number of factors, including the application submission volume and application process (outside EE takes a relatively shorter time compared to Inside EE). On average, however, most applications are processed within six months.
Because applications are processed based on the existing criteria, it’s recommended that you seek the help of a reliable immigration professional who is up to speed on the recent changes to OINP.
In addition to what we’ve discussed in this guide, spare some time to check out the immigration website for the province you intend to immigrate to. Equipping yourself with as much relevant information as possible is part of what you need to do in order to ace the application. Remember, changes to the provincial nominee program in Canada happen more often and so before you proceed to apply for permanent residency under this option, ensure you’ve taken into consideration the most recent developments. If stuck or unsure how to proceed, you can always seek the help of an immigration lawyer or consultant.