The month of March has so far been another busy one when it comes to immigration to Canada’s western provinces. Recent activity among the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) out west will allow a diverse range of workers and graduates to immigrate to a region that is becoming increasingly popular among new immigrants to Canada, with job opportunities and high living standards cited as reasons for this trend.
So far this month, there have been draws in British Columbia (BC) and Manitoba — these provinces continue to invite individuals and families, both in Canada and abroad, to apply for a provincial nomination certificate. In addition, Alberta continues to process applications through its various streams and categories. Further, Saskatchewan introduced an application fee for two of its popular international skilled worker streams — a sign that these streams will continue to open for new applications throughout 2017.
Together, these four provinces make up the region of Western Canada.
By obtaining a provincial nomination, an individual and his or her family, if applicable, may apply to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent resident status. This year, Canada plans to welcome up to 51,000 newcomers through the PNPs, around a seven percent increase on the 2016 target.
On March 8, the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) conducted its fourth draw for foreign workers and graduates in just five weeks. Another draw then took place on March 22. In total, 2,074 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) to the BC PNP have been issued since the beginning of February. Around half of these ITAs were issued to international graduates who completed their studies in Canada.
All 377 ITAs issued on March 8 were issued across a range of BC PNP sub-categories managed under the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS), a unique system used to rank and select candidates under certain BC PNP sub-categories.
The March 22 round of invitations included 12 candidates who had made an Expression of Interest under the Entrepreneur Stream, which is not managed through the SIRS. The remaining 425 ITAs were issued under SIRS sub-categories of the BC PNP.
Some invited individuals are now in a position to submit their BC PNP provincial nomination application through one of the enhanced BC PNP sub-categories aligned with the federal Express Entry selection system, thereby benefiting from an additional 600 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, which in turn means the candidate is first in line to receive an ITA at the federal Express Entry level. The remaining candidates will have their applications for permanent residence processed outside the Express Entry system.
Learn more about the BC PNP categories managed under the SIRS system:
A qualifying job offer from a BC employer is required for the above categories. Potential applicants can use the SIRS Calculator to determine what their score might be if they were to register under the SIRS.
The BC PNP also accepts applications from eligible post-graduates on an ongoing basis through its Express Entry-aligned category and its Skills Immigration category for Master’s and PhD graduates. Eligible applicants to these categories do not need a job offer.
Like BC, Manitoba also operates a unique ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) system for the skilled worker immigration categories of the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP). This system is divided into two categories, allowing skilled workers in Manitoba, as well as skilled workers overseas, to submit an EOI and, if invited, an application for a MPNP nomination certificate.
Candidates eligible for one of the MPNP for Skilled Workers sub-categories are ranked according to a unique points system that awards up to 1,000 points.
On March 16, a total of 313 candidates in the system were issued a Letter of Advice to Apply (LAA, more informally known as an invitation) based on the number of points they had been awarded. A total of 250 candidates, each of whom had at 684 or more points, were issued a LAA under the criteria for the Skilled Workers in Manitoba sub-category. The remaining 63 LAAs were issued to candidates in the Skilled Workers Overseas sub-category who were invited directly under a Strategic Recruitment Initiative, and who had at least 703 points.
The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) has continued to process hundreds of applications to completion this month, with more than 1,300 applications successfully processed to completion so far this year. The AINP’s Strategic Recruitment Stream, Employer-Driven Stream, and Self-Employed Farmer Stream include categories that aim to welcome workers across a range of industries, as well as international graduates and post-graduates.
The AINP streams are all “base” streams, meaning they are not aligned with the Express Entry immigration selection system. Indeed, Alberta does not currently process any applications through the federal Express Entry system.
Earlier this month, the government of Saskatchewan announced a new application fee of $300 CAD will come into force on April 1 for two popular sub-categories of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). The fee will be mandatory for applicants to the International Skilled Worker: Saskatchewan Express Entry sub-category and the International Skilled Worker: Occupation In-Demand sub-category. Until this point, there has been no application fee for these SINP sub-categories.
These sub-categories target newcomers who have work experience in an in-demand occupation. Moreover, no job offer is required for either sub-category.
Both of these SINP sub-categories have opened for new applications on numerous occasions since they were introduced in 2015. Intake quotas for these streams usually fill within a few days, or even hours on occasion. Consequently, potential applicants who prepare in advance by gathering and reviewing required documentation, and by keeping up to date with the program, are best positioned to immigrate to Canada through one of these SINP sub-categories.
“Over recent years, there has been a steady move west among newcomers to Canada, as well as people already living here. The publicly available data bears this out. A shift is occurring, and the Provincial Nominee Programs are the driving force behind much of the population growth out west,” says Attorney David Cohen.
“When it comes to these programs, however, the importance of preparation cannot be overestimated. Take Saskatchewan, for example, where sub-categories frequently open and close without warning. Further, many of the applications received and invitations issued over recent weeks and months were through streams that are not aligned with the federal Express Entry system.
“Even for individuals eligible for Express Entry, there is no harm in also pursuing base PNP options, as well as enhanced categories. Individuals who are seriously considering immigrating to Canada would do well to have their options assessed across a range of programs and streams, including those that are aligned with Express Entry, as well as those that are not.”
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