First quarter of 2018 a busy one for Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs

Stephen Smith, Eman Katem, Noah Turner
Published: April 5, 2018

The first quarter of 2018 saw significant activity and innovation in a number of Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

These programs, which allow provinces and territories to nominate individuals for Canadian permanent residence based on labour market needs, were especially active in Ontario and British Columbia in the last three months.

As part of its Multi-Year Immigration Levels plan, the federal government has raised the 2018 admissions target through Canada's PNPs to 55,000, an increase of 4,000 over its 2017 PNP admissions target of 51,000.

This raised expectations for an active 2018 among Canada's PNPs, and the first quarter of 2018 did not disappoint.

Here's a look at some of the key PNPs that were active during this period.


One of the busiest PNPs in the first quarter of 2018 was the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP).

Of its 10 immigration streams, the OINP's Human Capital Priorities (HCP) Stream was the most active, holding seven invitation rounds and issuing a total of 2,587 Notifications of Interest (NOIs) to candidates in the federal Express Entry pool over the three-month period.

The HCP Stream follows a so-called passive model that allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool and select candidates with a  Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of at least 400 and who meet other eligibility criteria.

Express Entry candidates with a provincial nomination get an additional 600 points toward their CRS score, putting an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence well within reach.

The final HCP draws of the quarter were a good reminder that its requirement of 400 CRS points is not set it stone and can be waived on occasion for candidates who meet specific requirements.

In the case of the March 26 draws, Express Entry candidates with CRS scores as low as 351 were issued NOIs on the strength of their having either a job offer in Ontario or French language skills of CLB 7 or above. This was unusual because a job offer is not typically required under the HCP Stream. A total of 480 NOIs were issued to Express Entry candidates with a job offer in Ontario and another 299 NOIs were issued to Express Entry candidates who met the French language requirement.

These “Targeted Notifications of Interest” were another example of Ontario’s innovative use of the Human Capital Priorities Stream to surgically select Express Entry candidates with specific skill sets — regardless of their CRS score.

The fact the OINP now provides the range of CRS scores among selected candidates along with other details of invitation rounds is one of the key improvements that Ontario introduced in the first quarter of 2018 to the way the HCP Stream operates.

Another key detail that Ontario is providing is the date when selected Express Entry candidates submitted their Express Entry profiles. In all seven invitation rounds conducted in the first quarter, no Express Entry candidate issued an NOI from Ontario submitted their Express Entry profile prior to January 1, 2018.

Ontario's two other Express Entry-linked streams, the French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream and the Express Entry Skilled Trades Stream, also issued NOIs during the first quarter of 2018. New data from the OINP shows that 261 NOIs were issued through the French Speaking Skilled Worker Stream and another 333 NOIs were issued through the Skilled Trades Stream.

The OINP noted that it does not post the CRS score range for these streams because neither has a minimum CRS requirement.

In January, Ontario also reopened its popular Masters Graduate and PhD Graduate streams.

These streams are two of the most sought-after immigration programs offered under the OINP. No job offer is required to apply to these streams, which are designed to retain international graduates who studied in the province.

Intake limits through these two first-come, first-served streams are typically reached quickly, and the Masters Graduate Stream closed around an hour after it opened.

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British Columbia

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) also had a busy first quarter of 2018, issuing invitations to apply for provincial nomination to candidates in its Express EntrySkills Immigration and Entrepreneur streams.

Six draws were conducted exclusively through the BC PNP’s Tech Pilot initiative, which supports the province’s technology sector in its efforts to recruit talent. Another six draws saw invitations to apply for a provincial nomination were issued to candidates in BC’s Express Entry Skilled Worker and International Graduate categories through six draws.

A total of 2,034 invitations were issued through the BC PNP in the first quarter of 2018.

In order to be considered under BC PNP Express Entry categories, most candidates must have an eligible job offer from an employer in the province who is willing to support them through the application process. The only exception to this rule are candidates in the Express Entry International Post-Graduate category.


On January 10, the province of Saskatchewan’s first-come, first-served International Skilled Worker – Express Entry sub-category opened to 400 new applications and reached its intake limit within 24 hours.

This popular Express Entry-linked sub-category does not require a job offer or a connection to Saskatchewan. Instead, it enables the SINP to nominate individuals who are already in the Express Entry pool and have the necessary education, skilled work experience, language ability, and other factors to help them settle successfully in Saskatchewan.

What makes this stream especially attractive to Express Entry candidates is the fact it does not consider a candidate’s CRS score. However, it does have a list of  35 eligible or "in-demand" occupations, 23 of which are regulated occupations with professional certification standards in Canada and/or Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan also invited 251 international entrepreneurs to apply for a provincial nomination in the draw held on January 17, 2018. Candidates in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)'s  'Expression of Interest' pool who had 80 or more points were invited to apply.


The Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) also had a busy first quarter, holding four draws from its Expression of Interest (EOI) pool.

Three of those draws saw the MPNP issue a cumulative total of 556 Letters of Advice to Apply (LAAs) to Express Entry candidates through its new Express Entry sub-stream, which was launched in January as part of a sweeping overhaul of the MPNP that was unveiled in November 2017.

To be considered under the Express Entry sub-stream, candidates must have a valid profile in both Manitoba’s EOI pool and the federal Express Entry pool. Candidates also need at least six months of recent experience in an occupation on Manitoba’s new In-Demand Occupation list, high so-called human capital values, and the confirmed support of a close friend or relative who has been a resident of Manitoba for at least one year.

Manitoba also issued 777 LAAs to candidates in the Skilled Workers in Manitoba Stream and another 623 LAAs to candidates in its Skilled Workers Overseas Stream.

Prince Edward Island

The PNP for the Atlantic province of Prince Edward Island introduced a number of significant changes to its provincial nominee program, the PEI PNP, during the quarter.

Applicants to all PEI PNP streams and categories must now follow a three-step process that begins with the submission of an EOI indicating that they would like to be considered under a program.

EOIs under the Express Entry category and others in the PEI PNP are also now ranked according to a new points grid that awards candidates’ points based on age, language proficiency, education, work experience, employment and adaptability up to a maximum of 100 points.

PEI held two draws from its Expression of Interest pool in the first quarter of 2018, both of which saw invitations to apply for a provincial nomination issued to Express Entry candidates.

There are two pathways to permanent residency through the PEI Express Entry Category, depending on if an applicant has a job offer in PEI or not. This quarter saw a total of 131 invitations issued to Express Entry candidates with valid job offers in the province.

Another 16 candidates were issued invitations through PEI's Business Impact Category.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick briefly opened its Express Entry Labour Market Stream to skilled workers with work experience in Information Technology-related fields, among others.

Candidates, however, had to have attended one of the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP)’s international information sessions. The opening closed to the targeted applicants the next day.

Applicants interested in this stream are required to submit an EOI to the NBPNP. Candidates are assigned a score based on the information provided, after which they are assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Their score;
  • Evidence of training and experience in a high priority sector as determined by the province;
  • Demonstrated ability to become economically established in the province; and
  • The likelihood of positively contributing to the provincial labour market.

New Brunswick is currently only accepting EOIs for the Express Entry Labour Market Stream from individuals currently employed in New Brunswick and from potential applicants who demonstrate French as a first language, proven by a Test d’évaluation de français (TEF), and with experience in the following occupations:

  • Information systems analysts and consultants (NOC 2171)
  • Computer network technician (NOC 2281)
  • Software engineers and designers (NOC 2173)
  • Database analysts and data administrators (NOC 2172)
  • Computer programmers and interactive media developers (NOC 2174)
  • Cooks (NOC 6322)
  • Restaurant and food service managers (NOC 0631)
  • Accounting technicians and bookkeepers (NOC 1311)
  • Managers in health care (NOC 0311)
  • Retail sales supervisors (NOC 6211)


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