Provinces across Canada continued to innovate and improve their immigrant nominee programs this past quarter.
Ontario, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick made changes directly affecting Express Entry candidates; Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island (PEI) held selection rounds inviting Express Entry candidates to apply for provincial nomination.
All in all, the months of July, August and September were busy ones for Canada’s various nominee programs, which allow participating provinces and territories to select immigration candidates with needed skills and work experience and nominate them for Canadian permanent residence.
Canada’s nominee programs open up immigration possibilities for foreign workers who may not qualify for the federal Express Entry system or for those who qualify but whose Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is lower than those being invited by the Government of Canada to apply for permanent residence.
Recipients of a provincial nomination through an Express Entry-aligned provincial stream, also called an “enhanced nomination stream,” receive an additional 600 CRS points and are effectively fast-tracked for an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.
Other provincial programs that are not Express Entry-aligned nominate candidates who can then apply directly to Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence. These so-called “base programs” are designed by the provinces to address specific, often lower-skilled labour needs.
Express Entry manages the pool of candidates for three of Canada’s main Economic Class immigration programs — the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Federal Skilled Trades Class, and Canadian Experience Class.
Candidates are invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence based on their CRS score, which considers factors such as age, education, skilled work experience and proficiency in English or French.
Only the highest-scoring candidates are invited to apply through Express Entry draws.
In July, Ontario introduced draws that target skilled workers with experience in six tech occupations:
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) held its first Tech Draw on July 12, inviting 1,623 Express Entry candidates to apply for a provincial nomination. The next draw on August 1 rendered another 1,773 invitations.
Ontario Tech Draws are conducted through the OINP’s Human Capital Priorities Stream, which allows Ontario to search the Express Entry pool for candidates who match both federal and provincial criteria.
A job offer is not required, but candidates must have a profile in the federal Express Entry pool and meet the stream’s provincial criteria.
On September 18, Saskatchewan overhauled the occupation requirement for its Express Entry-linked and Occupation In-Demand sub-categories, dropping its list of in-demand occupations in favour of an excluded occupations list.
The change resulted in the number of eligible occupations jumping from 19 to 218.
The executive director of the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) told CIC News the change would allow the province more flexibility in selecting candidates to fill gaps in the province’s labour market. Instead of constantly changing their list of in-demand occupations, the SINP would stick with one list of ineligible occupations.
A job offer in Saskatchewan is not required under either sub-category, but candidates must have at least one year of work experience in an eligible occupation that is related to their field of study, among other requirements.
Unlike the SINP’s Express Entry sub-category, candidates in the Occupation In-Demand pathway are not required to have an Express Entry profile.
The SINP followed the overhaul of its eligible occupations with a major draw on September 25 that issued a total of 769 invitations to both Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand candidates.
Those invited represented 100 occupations, including civil and chemical engineers, medical radiation technologists, psychologists and information systems analysts and consultants.
Nova Scotia’s maritime neighbour, New Brunswick, announced at the end of July that it would also be conducting occasional, targeted searches of the Express Entry pool in response to labour market needs in the province.
This new approach will be used in addition to the Expression of Interest (EOI)-based invitations issued through New Brunswick’s Express Entry Labour Market Stream.
Alberta holds regular draws that have lower CRS requirements than the typical federal Express Entry draws. In the third quarter, the lowest CRS cut-off score for a federal Express Entry draw was 457, whereas Alberta invited Express Entry candidates with scores as low as 302 on one occasion, and 303 on another.
Manitoba’s Skilled Worker Overseas program also works in conjunction with Express Entry. The province held five draws under the Skilled Worker Overseas program this past quarter, issuing a total of 483 Letters of Advice to Apply (LAAs). Manitoba uses its own unique ranking system, which is different from the federal CRS.
PEI issued 360 invitations over three draws this quarter to those in their Labour Impact and Express Entry categories. There is no break down of how many Express Entry candidates received invitations. PEI also uses its own unique system for selecting candidates.
“Canada’s provincial nominee programs continue to grow and innovate, creating new opportunities for Express Entry candidates and those outside the Express Entry system,” said David Cohen, senior partner with the Campbell, Cohen Canadian immigration law firm in Montreal.
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