WHAT IS THE PROVINCIAL NOMINEE PROGRAM?
Administered by the Province of BC under an agreement with Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”), the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) is the province’s only direct economic immigration tool for bringing in new British Columbians. The program allows BC to nominate a limited number of foreign workers, international students and investment-ready entrepreneurs with the skills and expertise needed to grow the provincial economy. The BC PNP enables nominees and their dependent family members to apply to the federal government for permanent residence in the provincial nominee class. The federal government (IRCC) sets the number of nominees available under the PNP and has the final selection authority for immigrants to Canada.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES TO THE BC PNP?
In the past few years, BC PNP has been redesigned to improve processing times for applicants, and ensure the program meets BC’s labour market and economic development priorities.
In early 2016, the BC PNP introduced a new online registration system which allows BC to select the highest impact candidates, not just those first in line, ensuring strong outcomes for the province. The registration is a points-based system similar to an expression of interest – registrants receive a score based on the information they provide in the online system and this score determines if they will be invited to apply.
The score is based on six factors that are important indicators of how likely an individual is to succeed into the labour market and contribute to the economy: skill level of the BC job offer, wage, education, years of work experience, official language proficiency and region of employment.
WHO CAN APPLY?
Foreign workers who have accepted a full-time, indeterminate job offer in BC may be eligible for one of the program’s Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC categories: Skilled Worker, Health Care Professional, International Graduates, Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled and Northeast Pilot Project. The BC PNP’s International Post Graduate categories are job offer exempt and require completion of select programs of study at the post-graduate level.
Those interested in applying to the BC PNP must first register a profile online.
The BC PNP also has a specific category for Express Entry candidates who plan to work and live in BC but do not currently hold enough points under Express Entry to receive an Invitation to Apply. Applicants who have submitted an Express Entry profile and are eligible for both Express Entry and BC PNP may submit an online profile through ‘EEBC’ through BC PNP. If selected, the applicant may submit an application to BC PNP for a Nomination. When approved, the BC PNP will automatically add 600 points to the applicant’s online Express Entry Profile. The applicant would then continue through the Express Entry PR application process, but with a Nomination from the province.
BC PNP has extended their Tech Pilot to June 2021. The Tech Pilot helps employers in BC to quickly hire and support PR for in-demand foreign workers and international students. Registrants enjoy weekly invitations to apply and prioritized review by BC PNP. There is also continuous support provided to tech sector employees by the BCPNP. The BC PNP has selected 29 ‘in-demand’ occupations that are eligible for the Tech Pilot. A full list can be found here. As of June 26, 2018, applicants eligible for the Tech Pilot must have a job offer of at least one year (365 days), as opposed to the regularly required offer of permanent employment. At the time of application, the job offer must have at least 120 days remaining.
Due to increased unemployment in certain sectors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, BC PNP has temporarily suspended Invitations to Apply to individuals in 31 tourism, hospitality, retail and personal service occupations. This suspension is likely to remain in place through 2020. A full list of the occupations excluded from Invitations to Apply is found here.
Complete details about the BC PNP program criteria is available in the BCPNP Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC Program Guide.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
- Registration: international workers who have accepted a BC job offer can register at no cost. They can go to BCPNP Online, create a profile, complete a registration and receive their score immediately.
- Invitation: periodically, the BC PNP invites the highest scoring registrants to apply for a Nomination. Those invited to apply have 30 days to submit an online application and pay a $1150 application processing fee. Note that the fee to apply was increased in August 2020.
- Registrants not invited and those who do not apply within 30 days of being invited are removed from the pool after 12 months.
- Application: the BC PNP will assess applications against program and category-specific criteria and select candidates to become Provincial Nominees. Currently, the processing time is 2 – 3 months.
- Nomination: those approved, or nominated, will receive a Confirmation of Nomination and a work permit support letter, if required, which they can use to apply for a new work permit or to extend one that will soon expire.
- Permanent Residence: After being nominated, Provincial Nominees and their dependent family members have up to 6 months to apply to IRCC for permanent residence. IRCC conducts security and admissibility checks and makes the final decision regarding permanent residence.
WHEN WILL APPLICATIONS BE ACCEPTED?
The BCPNP issues invitations based on the annual allocation of provincial nominations and the program’s processing capacity. Information about invitations to apply including invitation dates, number of invitations issued and minimum scores by category are be posted on the BC PNP website.
HOW MANY OPENINGS WILL THERE BE?
BC’s quota or ‘allocation of provincial nominations’ is set by the federal government. An allocation of 6,500 for 2020 has been confirmed.
WHAT CAN I DO WHEN MY WORK PERMIT EXPIRES PRIOR TO RECEIVING POSITIVE NOTIFICATION FROM PNP ON MY APPLICATION?
The BCPNP will not nominate an applicant if they are in Canada and out of status. If a foreign worker’s work permit is near expiry, applicants must work with their employers who must apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and work permit, or LMIA-exempt work permit, so that the applicant continues to hold status while the nomination application is being processed.
HOW CAN EMPLOYERS SUPPORT THEIR CURRENT WORKERS WITH THE BC PNP APPLICATION PROCESS?
The best thing an employer can do is to familiarize themselves with the program criteria by reviewing the BC PNP Program Guide available on the BC PNP website. This will help them understand the program requirements and their obligations as an employer supporting a BC PNP application. Employers can also help their employees prepare for and schedule a language test at an accredited language test centre. While official language proficiency is not a requirement for all categories of the BC PNP, it is a factor that may increase an individual’s registration score which in turn increases the employee’s chances of receiving an Invitation to Apply.
WHAT ARE THE PROCESSING TIMES FOR THE BC PNP APPLICATION?
Most applications are reviewed and processed in 2-3 months. Check the BC PNP website for the most up-to-date information about their current processing times.
HOW DOES BC PNP WORK AS A PATHWAY TO IMMIGRATION?
Foreign workers who are Nominated by the BC PNP are eligible to apply to IRCC for permanent residence for themselves and their dependent family members under the Provincial Nominee class. The BC PNP may also support a nominee’s application to IRCC for a work permit with a Work Permit Support Letter if they need to renew an expiring work permit.
HOW WILL THE CHANGES BENEFIT EMPLOYERS IN THE TOURISM AND HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
The program can be a valuable tool for employers to retain their international workforce or recruit new international workers by supporting them to obtain permanent residence. BC PNP also continues to offer a pathway to permanent residence for entry level and semi-skilled workers in tourism occupations.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT BC PNP?
For more details, visit www.WelcomeBC.ca/PNP.
Update provided by Katie Van Nostrand, an employment lawyer with Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP. The information provided in this article is necessarily of a general nature and must not be regarded as legal advice. For more information about Mathews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, please visit mathewsdinsdale.com.