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Provincial Nominee Programs

Each of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories operates its own immigration programs, called Provincial Nominee Programs, or PNPs. As the provinces have different populations and economies, their immigration programs are unique and built to fit their economic and demographic needs.

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Each province, with the exception of Quebec, operates several PNP streams. These streams are designed by the provinces to help meet their unique immigration goals, so the eligibility criteria and application procedures vary. However, PNPs are a popular option because they can be the fastest pathway to Canadian permanent residence.

All decisions regarding Canadian permanent residence must be approved at the national level by the federal government, so Canada’s provinces cannot approve permanent resident status on their own. This is why the provincial programs are considered “nominee” programs.

A successful applicant to a PNP will be nominated by the province to submit an application for permanent residence to the federal government. This means that securing a provincial nomination is always step one in a two-part process. First, an interested immigrant is approved at the provincial level and then they must apply to the federal level.

Provinces and Territories

Each of Canada’s provinces and territories operates its own unique Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) designed to meet its economic and demographic needs. Program requirements and application procedures vary greatly between provinces, so interested applicants should consult each of the provinces in order to determine their eligibility.

Express Entry Provincial Nominee Programs

In 2015, Canada introduced Express Entry as a system to manage applications for permanent residence through same major economic immigration programs. Since then, many Canadian provinces and territories have developed ‘enhanced’ PNP streams that are aligned with Express Entry. This means that some PNPs require that an applicant have an Express Entry profile in order to meet the PNP eligibility requirements.

If an applicant is nominated through a PNP which is aligned with Express Entry, the applicant can then claim 600 additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, virtually guaranteeing they will receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence in the next Express Entry draw. Alternately, if an applicant receives a nomination through a PNP which is not aligned with Express Entry, then they must submit a paper-based federal application for permanent residence as a provincial nominee. Paper-based federal applications for permanent residence can take significantly longer to process than electronic Express Entry applications.

Provincial Nominee Program FAQ

Am I qualified for a PNP?

All PNPs operate differently, so interested applicants must have their criteria assessed using the eligibility requirements for each individual program organized by each province. Follow the links above to view the requirements for PNPs by province.

How do I apply to a PNP?

As all PNPs are different, the process for applying varies depending on the program in question. Some PNPs accept applications from qualified applicants at all times, so if you are qualified for the PNP you can submit whenever you are ready. Other PNPs use a first-come, first-served system, where they keep the program closed for the majority of the year, only opening for a few hours at a time where they accept several hundred applications. Finally, some PNPs invite foreign nationals to submit applications, either by selecting candidates directly from the Express Entry pool, or by having interested individuals submit a formal Expression of Interest.

The PNP application process can be confusing and applications can be refused if they are submitted incorrectly or if they are incomplete. Applicants should take care to ensure that applications are completed correctly and submitted through the proper channel.

Can I qualify for a PNP if I don’t qualify for Express Entry?

Many PNPs require that applicants have an active profile in the Express Entry pool. However, there are exceptions to this where some provinces issue nominations to applicants who do not have Express Entry eligibility. These programs vary in their eligibility requirements, so it is best to consult with a representative to discuss your eligibility. All PNPs resulting in a nomination require that the applicant then submit a permanent resident application to the federal government.

If the PNP is not aligned with Express Entry, the federal permanent residency application must be submitted in the paper-based format, rather than electronically. Paper-based applications take much longer to process than electronic applications submitted through Express Entry. While the average processing time for a permanent resident application submitted through Express Entry is 6 months, a paper-based application is processed in an average of 18 months.

What factors make me eligible for a PNP?

The eligibility factors for PNPs vary from province to province. As PNPs are a part of an economic immigration strategy, PNPs are usually organized in such a way that they attract workers who can readily contribute to the economy and who have a high likelihood of remaining in that province. Therefore, some PNPs privilege immigrants who have experience in occupations which are in-demand in that province. Other PNPs prefer immigrants who have a connection to the province, like a relative, as this increases the chance that they will remain in the province.

As with most economic immigration programs, young applicants who possess strong language skills, high levels of education, and skilled work experience are better suited to succeed. Otherwise, it is necessary to consult the above-mentioned list of PNPs in order to determine the eligibility factors for each program individually.

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