Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs)

Canada’s provincial nominee programs (PNPs) offer a pathway to Canadian permanent residence for individuals who are interested in immigrating to a specific Canadian province or territory. 

Each Canadian province and territory operates its own PNP designed to meet its specific economic and demographic needs. Read on to find out how you can immigrate to Canada as a provincial nominee!

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Provincial Nominee Program Application Process


Every year, the Canadian federal government increases the number of invitations for PNP candidates. These programs are the fastest-growing route to economic immigration in Canada.

What are Provincial Nominee Programs?

Each province, apart from Quebec and Nunavut, 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 easiest 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 apply to the federal government for permanent residence. This means that immigrating to Canada through a PNP 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.

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Provinces and Territories

Each of Canada’s provinces and territories, apart from Nunavut and Quebec, 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 to determine their eligibility.

How to apply for a Provincial Nominee Program in Canada

Step-by-Step guide to applying to a Canadian PNP:

  1. Find the PNP that is right for you: Consult the list of provinces and territories at the top of this page to determine where you would like to immigrate. Make sure to check the requirements for each PNP to determine your eligibility.
  2. Apply to your chosen PNP: Submit an application directly to your chosen province or territory.
  3. Obtain a Provincial Nomination certificate: If your application is successful, the province or territory will nominate you to apply for Canadian permanent residence. Make sure to check the latest PNP invitation draws here.
  4. Submit your application for permanent residence: Apply to the Canadian federal government for permanent residence. If your chosen PNP is aligned with Express Entry, you can do this online. If not, you must submit a paper-based application.

How to apply to through the 'base' PNP process

Some PNPs do not require an Express Entry profile to apply. These programs are called ‘base’ PNPs. While the nomination process is different for each program, the general process is essentially:

  1. Apply for nomination
  2. If nominated, apply for Canadian permanent residence through Permanent Residence Portal.

Once you have been nominated by a Canadian province or territory, you can submit your application for Canadian permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada through IRCC’s online Permanent Residence Portal.

Base PNP permanent residence 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.


How to apply through the Express Entry Process

  1. Create an account and submit an Express Entry profile.
  2. Apply to an Express Entry-aligned PNP
  3. Receive an Express Entry stream nomination
  4. Confirm the Express Entry on your profile and receive 600 additional points
  5. Wait to receive an invitation for permanent residence
  6. Apply for Canadian permanent residence through the Express Entry system

As all PNPs are different, the process for applying and receiving a nomination through the Express Entry system varies depending on the program.

Some PNPs always accept applications from qualified applicants, so if you are qualified for the PNP you can submit whenever you are ready. Other PNPs use an Expression of Interest (EOI) system, where qualified applicants submit a profile that is ranked on a points-based system for the chance to receive an invitation to apply for nomination. 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.

How many PNPs are there in Canada?

Each of Canada’s provinces and territories, except Quebec and Nunavut, operate its own PNP program with several streams. Altogether, there are more than 80 different provincial nominee programs.

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 non-Express Entry federal application for permanent residence as a provincial nominee. Non-Express Entry federal applications for permanent residence can take significantly longer to process than electronic Express Entry applications.

How much does it cost to immigrate through a PNP?

The cost of immigrating through a Provincial Nominee Program is about $2,300 – $3,800 CAD, depending on the program you are immigrating through. Some provinces do not charge applicants processing fees, whereas other provinces, such as Ontario, charge as much as $1,500 CAD.

  1. Language tests: Average cost – $300
  2. Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) (if applicable): Average cost – $200
  3. Biometrics: $85/person
  4. Government fees: $1,325/adult & $225/child
  5. Medical examination fees: average cost – $450/adult & $250/child
  6. Police clearance certificates: average cost – $100/country
  7. Provincial Nominee Program processing fees: Up to $1500 CAD

Total cost: Between ~$2,300 – $3,800 CAD

Can I immigrate through a PNP without a job offer?

There are many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) for overseas candidates without a job offer in Canada. These programs typically target candidates with skills or work experience that can help the province respond to labour market or demographic gaps.

To learn more, visit our dedicated blog post that explores the best PNPs for candidates with no connections to Canada.

Did you know?

Quebec does not have a provincial nominee program. You can learn more about Quebec immigration on our dedicated page.

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Am I eligible for a Canadian PNP?

If you have a connection to a province or work experience or skills that are indicated as in-demand, you may be eligible for a Canadian PNP.

The eligibility factors for PNPs vary from province to province. As PNPs are a part of an economic immigration strategy, they 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 prioritize immigrants who have experience in occupations that 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.

What are the requirements for Canada’s PNPs?

Provinces and territories are often looking for applicants with work experience that meets the needs of their specific labour market, often in addition to other language and education requirements.

Each province sets their own eligibility requirements for language proficiency, education, and skill set. In order to qualify, you must also demonstrate that you will be able to contribute to the local economy and have a genuine intention to settle in that province or territory.

What is the processing time for a PNP application?

Processing times for nomination applications vary from one province to the next, but it typically takes a few months.

Applying for Canadian permanent residence through a PNP program is a two-step process. 

First, you must apply to the province. Once that has been approved, you must then submit your application to the federal government. Only the federal government can grant you Canadian PR.  The processing time for your permanent residence application will depend on whether you submitted a ‘base’ or ‘enhanced’ PNP application. 

This tool can help you find out the processing time at the federal level.

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 through a different portal, or by paper. A non-Express Entry PNP application is typically subject to longer processing times.

How are Provincial Nominee Program points calculated?

Since each province set their own eligibility requirements, they use different points systems to determine who can apply or receive an invitation. Points are typically based on a combination of age, work experience, education, language, and connections to the province. Not all nominee programs use a points system to rank their candidates.

How can I increase my chances of receiving a nomination?

Just by submitting an Express Entry profile, you can increase your chances of receiving a provincial nomination. Provinces frequently scan the Express Entry pool and invite profiles that help respond to labour or demographic gaps. Ensuring your profile is strong and indicates your interest in multiple provinces can also help increase your chances of being invited through an Express Entry PNP.

Since many PNPs require candidates to have a connection to the province, studying or working in Canada can also help to increase your chances.

What is the ideal PNP candidate?

The ideal PNP candidate is one that has work experience and skills that help a province respond to labour market or demographic needs. Other factors that may increase one’s chances include:

  • Strong ties to the host province (ex. previous work experience, job offer, previous studies, family)
  • Work experience in an in-demand occupation
  • Strong English proficiency
  • Proficiency in French

How does my IELTS score affect my PNP chances?

Many provinces consider an applicant’s language exam score when determining eligibility, or whether a candidate receives an invitation in a PNP draw. Most programs will consider this in their minimum eligibility requirements, or as part of their scoring criteria if applicable.

How to calculate your PNP points

To calculate your PNP points, you first need to understand the eligibility criteria of the provincial program you are applying through, and if, and how they award points to potential nominee candidates. If the program you are applying under uses a points system, you can then calculate your points against each factor to determine your score.

Do I need an ECA report for PNPs?

Most PNPs require an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report to demonstrate the Canadian equivalence of an applicant’s foreign credentials. To verify whether you need an ECA, you should check the eligibility requirements for the program you are applying under.

Some provinces also require that you authorize the organization to share the results of your ECA report with the PNP.

What does it mean to be invited to apply by a provincial nominee program?

An “Invitation to Apply” (also referred to as a Notification of Interest or Letter of Interest) is essentially an invitation from a province to apply for nomination. When issuing an invitation, provinces will also provide applicants with a deadline that they need to submit the application by. The deadline will vary depending on the program an applicant is invited through.

How does the PNP application process work?

The PNP application process will vary depending on the program an applicant is applying through. There are three main types of PNP processes:

1.      Expression of Interest (EOI) process

Some provinces require eligible candidates to first submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) profile to the program’s pool of candidates. The province then holds Expression of Interest draws, where they invite candidates to apply for nomination. The criteria of these draws usually change from draw to draw. The draws may target a combination of a candidate’s score on the province’s points grid, work experience in a particular occupation, language ability, or highest education level.

Examples of programs that operate using an EOI system include Prince Edward Island Express Entry stream, Saskatchewan Occupation In-Demand and Express Entry streams, and Manitoba’s Skilled Worker streams.

2.      Notification of Interest (NOI) process

Other nominee programs invite candidates directly from the Express Entry pool without them even having applied. These programs typically target candidates with certain work experience or skills that respond to labour market needs. Examples of programs that send Notifications of Interest to candidates in the Express Entry pool include Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities stream, Ontario’s French-Speaker stream, Nova Scotia’s Labour Market Priorities stream, Alberta Express Entry stream

3.      Apply directly to the program

Certain programs allow eligible candidates to apply directly for nomination.

Examples of programs like this include BC PNP International Post-Graduate stream, the Alberta Opportunity Stream, and New Brunswick’s Skilled Worker stream.

Documents required for a PNP

Candidates must provide documentation that demonstrates their eligibility for the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) they are applying to. Most provinces typically require:

  • language results;
  • educational credential assessment (ECA) reports;
  • proof of work experience;
  • proof of settlement funds;
  • civil documents; and
  • status documents

Many PNPs also require proof that the applicant intends to reside in their province upon being nominated. Other required documents will depend on the program you are applying under.

Canadian PNPs for healthcare professionals

Healthcare workers are in high demand. For this reason, many provinces offer PNPs specifically for healthcare workers. Examples of PNPs for healthcare professionals include:

Canadian PNPs for international students

Canada views international students are the ideal immigrant. To retain international graduates, there are several Provincial Nominee Programs offered to international graduates across Canada. Examples of programs for international graduates include:

Canadian PNPs for IT professionals

Canada’s tech sector is booming. To meet growing industry demand, provinces offer programs specifically for IT professionals. Examples of PNPs for IT professionals include:

Canadian PNPs for entrepreneurs

Provinces across Canada welcome foreign entrepreneurs for their ability to stimulate the economy and create jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Examples of PNPs for entrepreneurs include:

Do I need work experience to immigrate through a PNP?

Most Provincial Nominee Programs require at least one year of work experience to apply. However, some nominee programs designed for post-graduate students do not require work experience or a job offer to apply. Examples of these programs include the Ontario Masters Graduate stream, the Ontario PhD Graduate stream, and the British Columbia International Post-Graduate stream.

Can I immigrate through a PNP without IELTS or CELPIP?

Almost all PNPs require candidates to take a designated French or English language exam to demonstrate their proficiency in one of Canada’s official languages. If you are planning to immigrate to a particular province, you should check the language requirements for the program you are interested in to determine what level of language proficiency is required.

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