Provincial Nominee Programs

Immi Sikand for The Lawyers Weekly

Settling in Canada is a leap of faith for most immigrants. The issues of establishing one self in an unfamiliar community are magnified for permanent residents as they seek employment and to integrate themselves in their new home country. The Provincial Nominee Programs have sought to eliminate, or at least reduce, these difficulties by attracting immigrants whose skills and experience are sought by the particular economic needs of a province.

With the exception of Ontario, most of the provinces in Canada have a "Provincial Nominee Program" (PNP) for the selection of immigrants destined to live in their province. These provinces have entered into agreements with the Canadian government which allows them to select immigrants with particular skills and experience that directly address the specific industrial, economic and labour market needs of the province.

 The program in Quebec is not a PNP; although similar, it falls under the Canada-Quebec Accord on Immigration, which gives Quebec the ability to establish its own immigration program based on who will adapt well to living in Quebec.

Similar to the program administered by the Federal government, the provincial programs select qualified skilled workers and business people on the basis of selection criteria and procedures based on factors that reflect the immigrant's genuine intent to live in the province, and ability to integrate and successfully settle in the province. Selection is based on a combination of factors including age, education, guaranteed employment, official language ability, occupational demand, work experience, family in Canada, and adaptability, which includes time spent working, studying or visiting the province.

The following is a brief description of three of the nine PNPs that are currently in place:

    Nova Scotia (NSNP)

    The NSNP Skilled Worker Stream was implemented to fill areas in which skill shortages exist. Applicants in this program require a guaranteed job offer from an employer in Nova Scotia.

    Saskatchewan (SINP)

    The Saskatchewan PNP was recently revised on January 19, 2005 to expand its opportunities for employers to bring in more skilled workers to Saskatchewan. Rather than a designated skill shortage list of 12 occupations, the program has changed to include skilled workers or professionals; those in management positions; or those who have worked in Saskatchewan for a minimum of six months on a temporary work permit.

    British Columbia (BC PNP)

    Strategic Occupations is for skilled individuals who have a guaranteed job offer. The British Columbia PNP has identified certain sectors as high priorities, specifically "skilled workers", registered nurses, and international students. Applications wanting to work in British Columbia are made by the prospective employer, and not by the individual applicant.

    The BC PNP Business program has three categories: business skills; projects and regional business, all of which were developed to provide British Columbia with a mechanism to increase economic benefits to the province.

    Together with the advantage of having the skills sought after by the destination province, the benefit of pursuing an application through a British Columbia PNP is that applicants are likely to see their application for permanent residence to Canada processed on an expedited basis. Contrasted with the Federal process which can take years to process at some visa posts, most BC PNP applications are processed within a year.

    Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, the Yukon and Manitoba also have their own PNPs.

    Manitoba's PNP has been very successful and is based on six different streams, rather than the usual two or three, which reflects that there can be different combinations of factors that indicate an immigrant's ability to establish themselves in the province.

    Once an applicant has been nominated under the program, the province issues the applicant a Provincial Nominee Certificate. A potential immigrant who is nominated by the province then applies for a Permanent Resident visa at a visa post outside of Canada. The application is then finalized by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, which retains the authority to make the final decision with regards to the normal security checks, as well as criminal and medical checks for applicants who were granted the Certificates.

    Immi Sikand is a lawyer at Sikand Law.

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