Overview of Canadian Provincial Nominee Programs

Overview of Canadian Provincial Nominee Programs

Due to shared jurisdiction between Ottawa and the provinces, Canada operates a two-tier immigration system, offering skilled worker programs at both the federal and provincial levels.

Through a network of Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), almost all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories can nominate qualified candidates for admission to Canada if they possess the specific skills required by their local economies. Successful candidates who receive a provincial or territorial nomination can then apply for permanent residence in Canada through federal immigration authorities. This is an important component of all provincial programs.

Many provinces also manage their own categories in Canada’s Express Entry system. As a result, provinces are playing an increasing role in the selection of economic immigrants.

In some cases, applicants who are not eligible for one of the federal programs may be eligible for admission to Canada under a PNP. Some applicants may also be eligible for a Temporary Work Permit in the interim, which allows the applicant and accompanying dependants to enter Canada prior to being granted permanent residence.

Many of the major provincial programs face processing time issues. There is a great deal of interest in Canada among potential new immigrants, far exceeding the processing capacity of the authorities.

The Express Entry Canada system has been successful in addressing processing delays, while several provinces now choose to open and close their popular streams periodically throughout the year to avoid large backlogs.

The importance of sponsoring employers
Under some provincial programs, candidates are nominated by potential employers and, if approved by the province, their application is fast-tracked. In the initial stages, candidates who have the support of a qualified employer may receive a temporary work permit, which is renewable. This work permit allows them to enter and work in Canada while their application for permanent residence is being processed.

With the exception of programs in Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, Skilled Worker PNPs generally require an employer to support the application for admission to Canada. In the absence of a government-approved skilled employer, the application will either be refused or priority processing will be given to other applications that include skilled employers.

In order to qualify as an employer for PNPs, employers must demonstrate that they have made reasonable efforts to recruit Canadians for the position offered, and must offer terms and conditions of employment that are in line with the labour market for the occupation in question. The terms and conditions of employment required to sponsor a foreign employee may differ from province to province.

In order to qualify as an employee for a PNP, the position to be filled must generally conform to the National Occupational Classification, Skill Level 0, A or B; otherwise, the position must meet the criteria of a specific pilot project to address a specific labour shortage identified by the province.

Provincial pilot programs are designed for low-skilled workers and are limited in scope. Most provinces have pilot projects for occupations requiring low-skilled workers.