The Canadian province of Ontario has opened two new immigration streams through its Opportunities Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (OOPNP) for Canadian immigration: the Human Capital Priorities stream and the French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream. Both streams are aligned with the federal Express Entry immigration selection system.
For successful candidates, nomination from Ontario through one of these streams will result in an additional 600 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points being awarded and an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence being issued. Candidates may only obtain a provincial nomination through one of these streams after receiving a Provincial/Territorial (PT) Notification of Interest from the OONPNP.
Many candidates in the Express Entry pool, as well as many of those thinking of creating an Express Entry profile, have been waiting patiently for Ontario to announce details about how the OOPNP may be adjusted to attract skilled immigrants through Express Entry. As covered recently by CICnews, Ontario, Canada’s most populated province, continues to be the most sought after province by prospective immigrants to Canada.
Objective criteria have been established for both new streams, and a unique aspect of the OOPNP, compared with other PNPs that contain Express Entry streams, is that eligible candidates cannot make an application without first entering the Express Entry pool. These OOPNP streams place eligibility criteria above and beyond the criteria to enter the pool; candidates must either have at least 400 CRS points or have French language proficiency in order to obtain a PT Notification of Interest from the OOPNP.
Human Capital Priorities
The OOPNP Human Capital Priorities stream has attracted a great deal of attention in recent days and weeks, principally due to the fact that candidates are already receiving PT Notifications of Interest.
Candidates who register for Express Entry and wish to obtain a PT Notification of Interest must indicate their intent in immigrating to either Ontario or “All Provinces and Territories.” They must also be eligible to enter the pool through either the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) or the Canadian Experience Class (CEC). Candidates who are only eligible to enter the pool through the Federal Skilled Trades Program are not considered for this stream.
OOPNP searches the Express Entry pool and identifies potential candidates who:
- Have a minimum of 400 CRS points (additional information below);
- Created an Express Entry profile on or after June 1, 2015; and
- Meet other criteria of Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream.
Candidates identified by the OOPNP receive a PT Notification of Interest from Ontario, allowing them to apply to the OOPNP for nomination under the Human Capital Priorities stream. From this point, selected candidates have 45 days to apply to the OOPNP.
One interesting aspect of this stream is that candidates who created a profile before June 1 and have 400 or more CRS points can withdraw their original profile and create a new one. Indeed, some candidates who performed this action have already received a PT Notification of Interest from the government of Ontario.
To be eligible to apply for the Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream, candidates must meet the following criteria:
• CRS score: All candidates must score a minimum of 400 points under the CRS. The score must remain at or above 400 during both the Ontario nomination processing stage and at the federal application for permanent residence processing stage.
• Work Experience: FSWP candidates must have a minimum of one year of continuous full-time employment (1,560 hours or more) or an equal amount in continuous part-time paid work experience in a National Occupation Classification (NOC) level 0, A, or B occupation in the past five years from the date of the PT Notification of Interest from Ontario. This work experience must have been completed in one specific NOC occupation. CEC candidates are required to have a minimum of one year of cumulative full-time employment (1,560 hours or more) or an equal amount in part-time paid work experience in a NOC 0, A, or B occupation in Canada in the past three years.
• Education: All candidates must have a Canadian Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree or an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report produced by a designated organization indicating that their foreign education is the equivalent of a Canadian Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree.
• Language Proficiency: All candidates must have a language level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7 or above in all language competencies (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) in either English or French, as proven by language test results from a standardised language test recognised by the governments of Canada and Ontario.
• Settlement Funds: All applicants must possess sufficient funds that are readily transferable in a convertible currency to cover settlement costs in Ontario. This must be supported by bank statements.
• Intention to Reside in Ontario: All applicants must intend to reside in Ontario, as demonstrated by a statement of intent and indication of ties to Ontario.
Candidates in the Express Entry pool who fulfil all of the above criteria except for the requirement to have at least 400 CRS points have a couple of options for becoming eligible for the stream. They can increase their CRS score by improving language ability in English and/or French, gain additional skilled work experience, complete a study program at a higher education level, or find out whether their CRS score would improve if an accompanying spouse or common-law partner’s factors are added to the profile. Moreover, candidates are also advised to search for a qualifying job offer from a Canadian employer, which may also result in an additional 600 CRS points being awarded.
French-Speaking Skilled Worker
The French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream has so far not attracted the same initial level of interest as the Human Capital Priorities stream, but is likely to catch the attention of French-speaking skilled workers who also have strong English language abilities and who want to live and work permanently in Ontario. Candidates are required to have at least adequate-intermediate French language skills.
In effect, the French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream has the same eligibility criteria as the Human Capital stream, except for the following two aspects:
- There is no requirement to have at least 400 CRS points; and
- Candidates must have a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7 in French and CLB 6 in English, as demonstrated by results from a standardised language test recognised by the governments of Canada and Ontario;
While some candidates may, on first glance, be discouraged by the French requirement, a proficiency of CLB 7 is far from being perfectly fluent. Candidates who studied French in high (secondary) school or have previously been exposed to the language may, with a bit of additional effort and revision, reach adequate-intermediate proficiency and potentially benefit from this new option for Canadian immigration. The new Canada Immigration Language Converter tool allows candidates to compare CLBs with language descriptions and test requirements.
According to the 2011 Canadian census, Ontario is now home to 611,500 Franco-Ontarians, representing 4.8 percent of Ontario’s population. French is particularly strong in Eastern Ontario. A further 1,000,000 Ontarians self-declared French to be one of multiple mother tongues.
“People have been waiting patiently for Ontario to show its hand with respect to how its Provincial Nominee Program would work with Express Entry, and finally the province has turned over its cards to reveal a couple of compelling opportunities for Canadian immigration, ” says Attorney David Cohen.
“While the Human Capital Priorities stream may seem like a passive process in which the province fishes in the pool, proactive candidates are already benefiting from having re-made their Express Entry profiles after the stream came into being. With the arrival of Express Entry this year, however, we’re seeing that an increasing number of provinces are playing a dynamic, hands-on role in immigration. The French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream is another reflection of that reality.
“Let us not forget that, as Canada’s most populated and second-largest province, Ontario remains the most significant immigration destination in Canada. And while many potential immigrants may believe that Toronto is the be-all and end-all of life in Ontario, this province is also home to other cities and towns such as Ottawa, the national capital, and Kitchener/Waterloo, otherwise known as ‘Silicon Valley of the North’ due to its innovate technology sector. Then you also have Windsor, Hamilton and London, among other towns, in Southern Ontario, Sudbury and Thunder Bay in the North, and a whole range of more rural communities across the province. Overall, Ontario is an incredibly diverse and attractive destination, for a multitude of reasons.”
To find out if you are eligible for the OOPNP, or any of over 60 Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.