In May 2022, Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs together issued more than 1,400 invitations to apply for provincial nomination. Read on to understand what this means and if applying for provincial nomination could be for you.

What is the Provincial Nominee Program?

The Provincial Nominee Program is an option for workers who have the skills and experience to contribute to a specific province or territory's economy. Provinces and territories target different groups, so each one has its own unique requirements. For example, provinces and territories could target various groups ranging from students and businesspeople to skilled and semi-skilled workers. This is one avenue through which foreign nationals can become permanent residents in Canada.

Why did the Provincial Nominee Program come into existence?

Both the federal and provincial governments share responsibility for immigration in Canada under the Canadian Constitution. Before Provincial Nominee Programs existed, the majority of Canada's immigrants were settling in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Provincial Nominee Programs were launched in 1998 to not only "spread the wealth" of newcomers to this country but also to help ensure that the provinces have more control over who they wish to have settled in their province.

Each Provincial Nominee Program has at least one stream that aligns with the federal government's Express Entry selection system. If an Express Entry applicant is also nominated by a province, it gives them additional points on their application. These additional points more or less guarantee an invitation for permanent residence under the Express Entry program.

How to apply for a Provincial Nominee Program

The way to apply is dependent on which program you are applying to. There are two processes: paper-based and online (referred to as Express Entry). Regardless of which way you choose to apply, you will be required to pass a medical exam and get a police check.

For the paper-based process, interested foreign nationals must apply through one of the province or territory's non-Express Entry streams. If you meet the eligibility requirements, the province may nominate you. Once nominated, you can apply for permanent residence through a paper application. This method takes longer than Express Entry.

If you opt to apply through Express Entry, you have two options. First, you can apply under the province or territory's Express Entry stream. If you are nominated, you create an Express Entry profile and show that you have been nominated. The second option is to create an Express Entry profile in advance and select your provinces and territories of interest. Then, the provinces or territories you've selected may send you a "notification of interest." You will contact them directly and then apply to their Express Entry stream.

An Overview of Provincial Nominee Programs

Each province and territory have their own program to attract skilled workers to their unique economic needs and opportunities. Remember that each program has its own streams – so although the programs available are limited by the number of provinces and territories in this country, there are more than 80 provincial immigration streams overall.

Here is a brief overview of some of the programs that are offered:

  • Alberta Advantage Immigration Program: Involves eight streams that are divided into a category for workers and a category for entrepreneurs. Applicants must meet specific criteria and show an intention to reside in the province long-term.
  • British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program: Consists of three streams called Skills Immigration, Express Entry BC and Entrepreneur Immigration Streams. The program targets skilled workers, international graduates and other professionals with the skills, experience, and qualifications needed in British Columbia.
  • Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program: Has streams for skilled workers and families that are seeking to reside in the province permanently. It is currently being renewed.
  • New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program: Consists of streams that target entrepreneurs, international graduates and skilled workers.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program: Focuses on skilled workers, international graduates, and entrepreneurs that meet criteria which include having a job offer, the intention to reside in the province, and the ability to become economically established.
  • Nova Scotia Nominee Program: Seeks eligible skilled workers, international graduates, entrepreneurs and professionals who hope to permanently settle in the province.
  • Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program: Targets foreign workers, international students, business owners or entrepreneurs who intend on settling down permanently in the province as permanent residents.
  • Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program: Targets skilled workers, international graduates, and entrepreneurs. Must intend on living and working in the province and be able to become economically established.
  • Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program: Selects and nominates eligible foreign nationals through its International Skilled Worker: Express Entry and Occupation In-Demand categories.
  • Northwest Territories Nominee Program: Has two streams, Employer Driven and Business, that are broken down into sub-streams, including one specifically for skilled workers.
  • Yukon Nominee Program: Helps eligible employers nominate internationally-trained foreign workers and those in business for Canadian permanent residence.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.