Provincial Immigration Programs in Canada
In Canada, provincial immigration programs are part of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Provincial nominations are a fast-track option when applying for Canadian permanent residency. Under the Provincial Nominee Program, Canadian provinces and territories can nominate those individuals who want to immigrate to Canada, and who have a specific interest in settling down in a particular province. Each province (except for Quebec) and the two territories have their own PNP – they have signed agreements with Citizenship and Immigration Canada that allow for the selection of immigrants who meet all of the required conditions and requirements.
The Provincial Nominee Program has allowed provinces and territories to very effectively absorb new immigrants into their region. Each PNP reflects the needs and priorities of a region, allowing selected nominees to find a good fit in terms of life and work. When those immigrant applicants suit regional needs, they can make a meaningful contribution to the community. In Ontario, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) recognizes that newcomers are a valuable source of labor for many employers. And while the program helps employers to find workers, the province of Ontario can accomplish its short term and long-term economic development priorities.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is effectively an economic immigration program. The program provides an opportunity for the province to designate and nominate immigrants for permanent residency. Qualified immigrants would be individuals with the skills and expertise to accommodate employer needs, while contributing to Ontario’s greater economy. OINP operates in partnership between the Province of Ontario and the Canadian government (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada). While the province nominates the candidates, each individual applies for permanent residency through IRCC, where the final decisions are processed.
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is also designed to help employers who experience difficulties in recruiting skilled workers. Approved employers can actually recruit immigrant workers through various categories with a specific job offer. OINP also allows endorsed investors to obtain permanent residency status for key employees who are immigrants. Once recruited by a prospective employer, individuals must meet OINP requirements, and may then be nominated for permanent residency as official Provincial Nominees. Nominees must then apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada where the process is finalized for permanent residence status.
Regardless of the province, immigrants must have the necessary skills, acquired education, and work experience to make a meaningful contribution. Today, provinces have various program streams to focus on specific target groups, like business people, highly skilled workers, or semi-skilled workers. In most cases applicants should apply through the Express Entry Stream, where many applications for permanent residency are processed in as little as 6 months. Express Entry is a relatively new system, with various criteria that must be satisfied prior to the application.
In Ontario, program streams open and close based on specific employer demand. Clearly, where employer needs have been filled, these streams are at capacity, and don’t require any applicants. However, many category streams remain open to immigrant applicants as job demand continues.