Canada’s new, improved provincial pathways to immigration


Far from taking the summer off, Canada’s Express Entry-linked Provincial Nominee Programs spent the months of July, August and September innovating and issuing more than 3,000 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination for Canadian permanent residence. 

The big news in the third quarter of 2018 included the largest invitation round so far this year through Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream, Saskatchewan’s switch to an Expression of Interest system for its Express Entry sub-category and the creation of Nova Scotia’s Labour Market Priorities Stream.

Provincial Nominee Programs, or PNPs, allow participating Canadian provinces and territories to nominate a set number of immigration candidates for permanent residence each year.

All Canadian provinces and territories with a PNP now have at least one “enhanced” nomination stream that is linked to the federal Express Entry system, which manages the profiles of candidates in Canada’s three main federal economic immigration categories — the Federal Skilled Worker ClassFederal Skilled Trades Class and the Canadian Experience Class.

Express Entry candidates who receive a provincial nomination are awarded an additional 600 points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which effectively fast-tracks them for an invitation to apply for Canadian permanent residence.

Over the course of July, August and September, Express Entry-linked PNP streams across Canada issued more than 3,000 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination to Express Entry candidates.

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Ontario drops 400 CRS minimum

The largest invitation round of the third quarter was held through Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Stream on August 9, when it issued 947 Notifications of Interest (NOIs) to Express Entry candidates with a job offer in Ontario. The CRS scores of Express Entry candidates who were issued an NOI in this draw ranged from 350 to 439.

The Human Capital Priorities Stream allows the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) to search the Express Entry pool for candidates who meet its specified federal and provincial criteria.

The August 9 draw was the second of the year through this stream to target Express Entry candidates with a job offer in Ontario, despite the fact a job offer is not required under the stream’s eligibility requirements. Both these draws also deviated from the stream’s criteria by selecting Express Entry candidates with CRS scores below 400.

In September, the likelihood of future draws with a CRS minimum under 400 grew with the OINP’s revision of the stream’s minimum score criteria, which is now be set at the discretion of the OINP’s director.

The OINP told CIC News at the time that the likelihood of the minimum score continuing to drop below 400 will depend on a number of factors, including the number of eligible candidates in the Express Entry pool, Ontario’s labour market needs and the province’s economic immigration priorities.

Ontario’s Express Entry-linked French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream also had an active third quarter.

The stream, which selects French-speaking Express Entry candidates with strong English language abilities (a minimum of CLB 6), among other criteria, held draws on an almost weekly basis through July, August and September and issued 419 NOIs.

To find out if you are eligible for any Express Entry-linked PNPs, please fill out a free assessment.

Saskatchewan goes EOI

Another big story in the third quarter of 2018 was the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program’s adoption of an Expression of Interest system for its Express Entry sub-category in July.

The change brought an end to the first-come, first-served approach to managing applications to the sub-category that had been in place, which favoured candidates who were quickest to apply during its periodic openings.

Saskatchewan says the switch to an Expression of Interest (EOI) system allows its provincial nominee program, the SINP, to better target those most likely to succeed in Saskatchewan’s labour market. As the SINP says on the webpage outlining the new system, “a goal of the EOI system is to ensure strong economic outcomes and long-term retention in Saskatchewan for those invited to apply.”

Under Saskatchewan’s EOI system, Express Entry candidates who would like to be considered for a nomination through Saskatchewan’s Express Entry Sub-category must first submit an Expression of Interest.

Candidates register an EOI profile and are given a ranking score based on their answers to questions concerning work experience, education and proficiency in English or French, among other factors.

Those who score at least 60 points on Saskatchewan’s assessment grid, and satisfy other eligibility requirements, are entered into the pool of candidates for the Express Entry Sub-category and the highest-ranked candidates are invited to apply for a provincial nomination through regular draws.

Source: Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program

After the switch to an EOI system became official on July 16, the SINP held two third-quarter draws from its new pool of candidates, on August 21 and September 27. A total of 691 invitations to apply for a provincial nomination from Saskatchewan were issued in the two draws.

Nova Scotia launches new Express Entry stream

Among Canada’s Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island’s Express Entry-linked  had an especially active third quarter.

On August 2, Nova Scotia announced the creation of its Labour Market Priorities Stream, saying it will be used to invite Express Entry candidates who meet “market-identified labour shortages” to apply for a provincial nomination.

A candidate’s CRS score is not a selection factor.

The province’s Office of Immigration has described the stream as “flexible” and said the specified occupations could vary from draw to draw depending on Nova Scotia’s labour needs.

The first invitation round through the new stream was held on August 8 and saw Nova Scotia issue 314 invitations to eligible Express Entry candidates with at least two years of eligible work experience as early childhood educators and assistants.

Across the Northumberland Strait in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Express Entry candidates were invited to apply for a provincial nomination on three separate occasions in the third quarter through PEI’s Express Entry Stream.

Prince Edward Island does not provide the number of Express Entry candidates invited in an individual draw, so there is no total number of invitations available. However, Express Entry candidates were among the 302 candidates invited in the three Labour Impact and Express Entry invitation rounds held in the third quarter of 2018.

One interesting development with PEI’s Express Entry Stream during this last quarter was news that PEI’s Office of Immigration has started contacting Express Entry candidates who may be a match for labour market needs in the province.

While PEI welcomes Expressions of Interest from Express Entry candidates who would like to be considered for immigration to the province, this new development shows that PEI also may contact Express Entry candidates who have not submitted one if they have work experience required in the province.