Historically, the federal government has specific economic immigration programs including the Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, and Canadian Experience Class for foreign nationals to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents without a Canadian job offer. Prior to the launch of the Express Entry system (an application management system), foreign nationals for the above captioned federal economic immigration programs were able to submit an application for permanent residence when they met the program requirements for their specific economic immigration programs. However, since January of 2015, foreign nationals need to first create an Express Entry profile online and depending on their comprehensive ranking system (“CRS”) score, they may receive an Invitation to Apply to submit a full application for permanent residence.
This means meeting the program requirements for the specific economic immigration programs will not guarantee the foreign national will be invited to submit an application for permanent residence. In other words, each foreign national’s score will be ranked against all candidates in the Express Entry pool at the time of a round of invitations. This creates business uncertainty for employers trying to anticipate whether or not their temporary foreign workers will be able to transition into permanent employees, and when this will occur.
Moreover, on October 30, 2019, the minimum CRS score required to receive an Invitation to Apply was 475 points and this is the highest in the last two years. This bulletin will outline the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program as an alternative option for employers to assist their temporary foreign workers in British Columbia to immigrate to Canada as permanent residents.
Provincial Nominee Program
The Provincial Nominee Program gives the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Northwest Territories the power to select immigrants who meet their local market needs and priorities. Each year the federal government releases details on their immigration levels. For 2020, the quota allocated for the Provincial Nominee Program is approximately 67,800 and this is an increase of 6,800 from the previous year. For 2019, the federal government annual allocation for British Columbia is approximately 6,500. This bulletin will focus on the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program, particularly the Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category.
Overview of the BC PNP Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker Category
In general, the Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category is intended for foreign nationals with the skills, education and experience required for high-demand occupations in British Columbia. The foreign national must receive a full-time job offer from a British Columbia employer in an occupation in National Occupational Classification skilled level 0, A or B (managers, professionals or technical occupations). The foreign national must also have a minimum of two years of directly related work experience. Finally, the foreign national must be committed to living/working in British Columbia and becoming a permanent resident of Canada.
If the foreign national and the British Columbia employer meet the requirements in the Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category, then the foreign national may create a profile online. After submitting the online registration, the foreign national will receive a score based on the foreign national’s skills and job. Periodically, the BC PNP office will invite people with the highest scores to apply through BCPNP Online. If the BC PNP application is approved, then the foreign national will receive a Nomination Certificate and may subsequently apply for permanent residency through submitting an application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”). Employers should note that the Provincial Nominee Program is governed by administrative law. As such, the program criteria are subject to change or program closure without notice.
The application procedure for BC PNP is similar to the federal Express Entry system. However, the BC PNP Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category has a number of unique advantages that the federal Express Entry system does not have, including the following (not an exhaustive list):
- Guaranteed Invitations: If the foreign national’s registration score is at least 135 points, then the foreign national will be guaranteed to receive an invitation to apply in the next draw for the category. For the Express Entry system there is no guaranteed invitations.
- Work Permit: If the foreign national is nominated by the province of British Columbia, the foreign national may be eligible to receive a Work Permit Support Letter to apply to IRCC to obtain or renew a Work Permit to start work or to continue work for the British Columbia employer while the foreign national awaits the decision on the application for permanent residence. For the Express Entry system, if the foreign national is outside of Canada and does not currently hold a valid Canadian Work Permit, then the foreign national will not be eligible to apply for a Work Permit while the foreign national awaits the decision on the application for permanent residence.
- Language Requirements: Language test results are not mandatory when the occupation is classified under National Occupational Classification skilled level 0 or A for managers and professionals. For the Express Entry system, the foreign national must meet the mandatory language requirements before the foreign national is eligible to submit an Express Entry profile online. This means if the foreign national’s language competency cannot meet the minimum requirements, then the foreign national will not be able to transition to become a permanent resident through the federal economic immigration programs.
This is a brief outline of the BC PNP Skills Immigration – Skilled Worker category as an alternative to the federal economic immigration programs to apply for permanent residency. For further information on immigration strategies to assist your temporary foreign workers to transition to become permanent residents, please do not hesitate to contact one of the lawyers in our Immigration Law Practice Group.