British Columbia’s PNP: Immigration pathways to Canada’s Pacific Coast

Michael Schwartz
Published: June 26, 2019

Canada’s gateway to the Pacific, British Columbia, is the country’s third largest province by size and population. It plays host to the vibrant city of Vancouver, as well as a lush, rugged interior dotted by charming small and medium-sized towns.

Recognizing the importance of immigration to its population growth and economic development, British Columbia has developed an extensive provincial nominee program, the BC PNP, which divides into essentially two streams: Skills Immigration/Express Entry B.C. and Entrepreneur Immigration. 

The Skills Immigration Stream provides a pathway to Canadian permanent residence for skilled and semi-skilled workers in high-demand occupations in B.C. and international graduates of eligible Canadian post-secondary programs and institutions.

The Skills Immigration Stream has five categories: Skilled Worker, Healthcare Professional, International Graduate, International Post-Graduate, and Entry Level and Semi-Skilled Worker.

The first four of these categories – Skilled Worker, Healthcare Professional, International Graduate and International Post-Graduate – are also linked to the federal Express Entry system and allow the BC PNP to nominate skilled worker candidates with an Express Entry profile. 

Express Entry candidates with a provincial nomination receive an additional 600 points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which effectively assures an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence in a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool.

Find out if you are eligible to enter the Express Entry pool

In 2018, British Columbia nominated 6,500 immigration candidates for Canadian permanent residence, nearly half of whom came through Express Entry B.C. categories.  

While the eligibility criteria vary from category to category, the requirement that both Skills Immigration and Express Entry candidates have a permanent, full-time job offer from a BC employer is common to all except the International Post-Graduate category. 

Points-based system

In 2016, British Columbia introduced what it calls the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS), a points-based system that ranks eligible candidates in accordance with a score based on factors such as education, work experience, proficiency in English and the type of job offer they have received.

The highest-scoring candidates in each Skills Immigration / Express Entry BC category that uses SIRS are invited to apply for a provincial nomination through regular draws from their respective candidate pools.

Registering an online SIRS profile is required for all Skills Immigration / Express Entry B.C. categories except Healthcare Professional and International Post-Graduate.

Tech Pilot

Another recent innovation put in place by the BC PNP was the creation of its Tech Pilot in 2017. 

The Tech Pilot targets Skills Immigration / Express Entry B.C.  candidates with an eligible job offer in 29 designated tech occupations. Recently extended until June 2020, the pilot facilitates the recruitment of skilled foreign workers by tech companies in the province that are facing labour shortages and reduces the usual job offer requirement from a permanent position to a one-year job offer that has at least 120 days remaining at the time of application.

Aspects of this pilot include concierge service for employers, weekly tech-only draws, priority processing for applications, and some flexibility with job offer duration. 

Entrepreneur streams

In addition to Skills Immigration, there is the pathway of immigrating to British Columbia on the strength of one's entrepreneurial experience.

There are three categories within the BC PNP’s Entrepreneur Immigration pathway: the Entrepreneur Immigration – Base Category; the Regional Pilot; and the Strategic Pilots Category.

The two-year Regional Pilot is the BC PNP’s latest innovation and was introduced last year to support economic development outside the province’s large urban areas. 

The program allows participating regional communities to refer entrepreneurs to the BC PNP whose business proposals meet their local economic priorities. 

Candidates who are invited to apply and whose applications are approved by the BC PNP can then apply for a two-year work permit from Canada’s federal government.

Entrepreneurs who go on to establish their business and who meet the BC PNP’s business performance criteria can apply for a provincial nomination for Canadian permanent residence.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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