Provincial Nominee Program for Immigration to CanadaPermanent residence to Canada for skilled workers
Over the past few years, this immigration program has evolved from a small adjunct to the three main federal economic immigration programs into the program that now admits the largest number of permanent residents to Canada each year. This article provides a comprehensive introduction to the Provincial Nominee Program in the following structure.
What are Canada’s "Provinces and Territories"?
Overview of the PNP System
Who can apply for PNP?
How to apply for PNP?
Applying via Express Entry System
Applying via Paper-based System
Commonly asked questions
We can help
Canada is a federation with fourteen components: the national Government of Canada; 10 provincial governments; and three territories. The term "Provinces and Territories" refers to its 10 provinces and three territories as a group. The key difference between a Canadian province and a Canadian territory is that the provinces derive their authority from the Constitution Act of 1867, whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the Parliament of Canada.
Thus, territories and provinces are the administrative units of Canada below the national government. They have unique traditions and culture, climate, flora and fauna, job and education opportunities, as well as immigration programs.
All three territories are located north of 60º latitude and have fairly severe weather conditions. As a result, they are very sparsely populated; while they account for 40% of Canada's landmass, they represent approximately 3% of its population.
Quebec is a province with a special status in Canada due to its historical association with France and French culture.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) provides provinces and territories freedom and flexibility in how they choose to address their specific economic development needs; at the same time, PNP distributes the benefits of economic immigration equitably across all provinces and territories. PNP is jointly managed by Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), a branch of the Canadian government, and the specific immigration authorities in each province or territory.
This program is for workers who:
- Have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory;
- Want to live in that specific province or territory; and
- Want to become permanent residents of Canada.
CIC and IRCC are the same thing
You may find the abbreviation “CIC” used on some Canadian government pages; it stands for “Citizenship and Immigration Canada.” This is simply an old name for the government department recently renamed Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) department. Some government websites still use the old terminology.
Furthermore, the applicant has to choose a stream under which he or she applies. Streams are immigration programs available at the provincial level, each designed for specific groups of workers. For example, a particular program stream may select any one of the following:
- Skilled workers;
- Semi-skilled workers;
- Business people;
- Students; or
- Healthcare professionals, etc.
Can you apply for more than one province or territory at a time?
No, you cannot apply for multiple PNP programs at the same time. It contradicts the very philosophy behind PNP – this program is designed for persons who want to live in and contribute to a specific province or territory. However, if you being your application through the Express Entry system, you can submit your expression of interest to multiple provinces or territories. Note that at this stage, you are not applying to these provinces, you only expressing your interest in them.
Can you apply for more than one stream in the same province or territory at a time?
No, you cannot. You can apply for only one stream at the same time. If you want to apply for another stream you must withdraw any previous application.
A candidate who receives a nomination can proceed to the second stage, which involves applying for permanent residence in Canada through the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada department at the Federal government level. The application may be submitted via:
- The Express Entry (EE) system online; or
- A paper-based application.
Note that an applicant may choose the stream but not the method of application. Each PNP stream has its own method, and most require a paper-based process. Streams that are associated with the Express Entry system are called Express Entry streams and streams that require paper applications are called non-Express Entry streams. Nearly all provinces and territories have at least one stream that is an Express Entry stream. To learn more, read our article in how the Express Entry system works.
In 2019, 68,647 people were selected to immigrate to Canada through the Provincial Nominee Program, the highest count since the program was launched. This figure represents more than 20% of all permanent resident admissions to Canada. The figure on the right shows the number of permanent residents that were admitted by each province or territory in 2019. The following provinces admitted the largest number of immigrants:
- British Columbia - 12,575
- Manitoba - 12,545
- Ontario - 12,341
- Alberta - 11,236
- Saskatchewan - 10,962
There are some basic eligibility criteria to apply for permanent residence under the Provincial Nominee Program. These are as follows:
- A person applying under PNP must plan to live in the specific province where the person submits his or her PNP application. Furthermore, the person must plan to live:
- Outside the province of Quebec, which manages its immigration programs differently from other provinces and territories, and
- Outside the territory of Nunavut, as it does not participate in the PNP.
- An applicant must be nominated under the stream of a particular province or territory and must plan to live in that province or territory.
- The applicant must pass a medical exam and obtain a police check certificate, no matter where he or she plans to live in Canada.
Before you can apply for permanent residence, you must be nominated under the stream of a particular province or territory. There are also a set of minimum requirements for applicants who can receive a nomination:
- Meet the requirements of one of the provincial or territorial streams;
- Demonstrate a strong willingness to settle in that province or territory, and
- Be able to contribute to the local economy.
Note that each province or territory in Canada determines its eligibility criteria for the streams it offers. This set of requirements is usually based on their particular labour market needs at that particular time. The applicant’s language proficiency, education, work experience, skill set, and family ties may also be taken into consideration by provinces and territories.
Your PNP application process will involve two stages. In the first stage, you apply for a nomination under one of the immigration streams to the respective provincial immigration authority. Upon receiving a nomination, you start the second stage and apply to IRCC for permanent residence in Canada.
There are two methods to apply for a PNP program:
- Apply Online through Express Entry System: Used for Express Entry PNP Streams. This method is discussed in this section.
- Submit Paper Documents: Used for non-Express Entry PNP Streams. This method is discussed in the next section.
Remember that an applicant can choose which stream to apply for, but not the method of application. Each PNP stream has its own method for applying, and most streams still require paper documents. Both methods of application are explained below.
If you decide to apply online by using the Express Entry system, there are two ways you can start your application — you can either begin the process through a province or a territory or you can being the process by submitting your profile in the Express Entry system and joining the Express Entry pool. The two approaches differ in the sequence of actions and both are explained below. If you find the process confusing, contact our team for guidance.
OPTION 1: Begin the Process Through a Province or Territory
You will first contact the province or territory where you want to immigrate and apply through its online system. If the province or territory selects you for nomination then you enter your information in the Express Entry system. Thus, the steps are:
- Contact the province or territory to which you want to immigrate: Visit the website of the province or territory you wish to immigrate to and look for currently available Express Entry streams. Check the eligibility criteria for the EE stream you’re interested in.
- Apply for a nomination under the province's or territory’s EE stream that matches your profile: You may apply directly to the province or territory immigration authorities via an e-portal. Each province or territory has its own electronic system through which you can apply. If the province or territory agrees to nominate you, you will be issued a nomination certificate proving that you have been nominated. You can receive this certificate either via email, or special e-portal of the province or territory, or in paper form.
- Create an Express Entry profile, or update your profile if you already have one: Create your EE profile by following these step-by-step directions. Note that if you already have an EE profile, you should update it to inform the system that you are now interested in the particular province or territory that has nominated you. This is the technical requirement that is a prerequisite for receiving a confirmation of your nomination via the Express Entry system.
- Contact the respective province or territory directly, outside the EE profile, and share additional information with them: Contact the province or territory via email or its e-portal and notify it of your Express Entry profile number, and Job Seeker Validation Code. After that, wait for the province or territory to send you a confirmation of your nomination via the Express Entry system.
OPTION 2: Begin the Process Through Express Entry
In this approach you first create your Express Entry profile and then indicate your interest in one or more territories or provinces within the Express Entry system. Provinces and territories have direct access to the Express Entry pool; they can search and find candidates to nominate. Thus, in this approach the steps are:
- Create an Express Entry profile and indicate the provinces and territories you are interested in: The very first step should be to create an accurate and current profile in the Express Entry system. You can express your interest in a particular province or territory, or all provinces and territories, by indicating this while completing the EE profile. You can update this information later as well.
- Check your mailbox in the EE profile regularly: If a province or territory finds that you are a person who meets its current labour needs, it will send you a notification of interest letter. You can get more than one notification of interest letter at the same time. Remember that a “notification of interest” letter is not a nomination and does not guarantee that you will receive a nomination. This letter only invites you to contact the province or territory directly and discuss available options for your immigration.
- Contact the province or territory directly: You can contact it either via email or a special e-portal. They will tell you for which PNP Express Entry stream you are eligible and may ask you to provide additional information.
- Apply to the province’s or territory’s PNP Express Entry stream: Apply directly to the province or territory immigration authorities via an e-portal. Each province or territory has its own electronic system through which you can apply. Be careful, as this process is conducted between an applicant and the province or territory without any use of the Express Entry profile. The province or territory will assess your application. If it is approved, you will get a message in your EE profile account inviting you to accept the nomination. Remember that you can get more than one notification of interest at a time, but can only have one nomination. To receive another nomination (from other province or territory), you have to decline the previous nomination.
Regardless of which pathway you use up to this point (option 1 or option 2 above), the next set of steps for both options are the same and are as follows.
- Accept a Provincial or Territorial (PT) nomination via your EE profile: You will have 30 calendar days to accept your nomination in the EE profile. The province or territory will contact you directly and send you a copy of your nomination certificate. When you accept a provincial or territorial nomination, you will be automatically awarded additional 600 points in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), which is usually sufficient to trigger an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence at the next round of invitations. Read our article on the Comprehensive Ranking System.
- Wait until you are selected during the round of invitations: You will be issued an invitation to apply (ITA) at this step, which is basically a permission to submit your application for permanent residence. You can find more information about the Express Entry rounds of invitations.
What if you reject or ignore a PT nomination?
An applicant can accept, reject, or ignore a PT nomination. If a person starts the process through the province or territory and then rejects the nomination, he or she must register for the Job Bank within 30 calendar days from when his or her created profile was placed in the EE pool. After that, a person may apply under any federal economic immigration program that he or she is eligible. An applicant may also restart the process for application under the PNP. However, if a person starts the process through Express Entry System and then rejects the nomination, he or she will remain in the Express Entry pool. After that, an individual may be invited to apply under any federal economic immigration program that he or she has been found eligible for. An applicant may also restart the process for application under a PNP.
Remember that If you have an offer for nomination in your EE profile account but prefer to be nominated by a different province or territory, you must reject that nomination. You will not receive a nomination from another province or territory if you have an outstanding offer from any province or territory. Therefore, it is not a good idea to ignore the nomination.
- Complete your application for permanent resident status in Canada: Upon receiving an ITA, you should carefully complete the application for permanent residence. Since this is a critical step, it is advisable to seek the help of a professional and read a step-by-step guide to filling out the application.
Please, be careful as the province or territory can withdraw your nomination at any time before you submit a complete application for permanent residency. If the province or territory withdraws the nomination before you receive an ITA then you have to perform the following:
- Withdraw your profile from the Express Entry pool, and
- Submit a new EE profile.
If the withdrawal occurs after you receive an ITA then you must:
- Decline the ITA, as it is not automatically declined by the EE system. If you do not decline the ITA, you will not be able to submit a new EE profile for being considered for another nomination.
- Withdraw your current EE profile from the EE pool, and
- Submit a new EE profile.
In either of the above cases, if an applicant does not follow the directions, he or she could be found inadmissible. This means that an applicant could be banned from applying to come to Canada for any reason for five years. Since the ITA can be withdrawn, it is best to have your package of documents required for a permanent residence application prepared in advance. With this advance planning, you can submit the completed application as soon as you get the ITA. If you decide to work with our team, we will assist you in preparing all documents in advance and filling out the application for permanent residence within a day of the ITA, to minimize your chances of it being withdrawn.
Do you qualify for Express Entry to Canada?
This section provides step-by-step guidance for completing the application for a paper-based PNP streams. The paper-based application process for PNP consists of two stages.
In the first stage you submit your application and wait for a decision. The steps are as follows:
- Decide where you want to live in Canada: Do some research, read articles about the peculiarities of each of Canada’s provinces or territories and decide what suits you best.
- Find out what streams are currently available in this province or territory: Check out this map of active PNP regions to find links for currently operational PNP programs where you can see the available streams.
- Apply for the non-Express Entry PNP stream: You may be surprised to learn that most streams require paper applications. The application will be specific to the PNP stream you select. You will have to complete it and submit it along with the necessary supporting documents.
- Wait for a provincial or territorial nomination: The province or territory will review your application based on two criteria:
- Immigration needs of that particular province or territory, and
- Your sincere intention to live in a particular province or territory.
If you receive a nomination after the First stage, you should follow the steps outlined below.
- Gather Documents: You should prepare your package of documents in advance i.e. even before you learn the outcome of the First stage. If an applicant does not provide all the required documents or other requested information, the application will not be considered. Our team can assist you in this process and make you feel confident in the completeness of your document package. Note that if one of your documents is in a language other than English or French, you must provide an English or French translation, either:
- Fill out the application for permanent residence: Upon receiving a provincial or territorial nomination, you can apply for permanent residence. Your application will be complete if you fill out and submit all necessary forms. This is one of the most important steps in the application process and requires accuracy, clarity, and attention to detail. Our experienced team can be your guide and advisor in your quest for Canadian permanent residence under the PNP. Note that you should fill out your application in a pdf-format electronically. After you complete it, the application will be validated by a 2D barcode. Then, you should print all pages and sign with a handwritten signature.
- Pay all the fees: You have to pay your fees online. Your fees include:
- Submit the application: You must submit your application to one of the IRCC offices. Remember that you should put the completed forms, all supporting documents required and fee payment in a single envelope. You must use:
- Regular mail, or
- Wait for approval: If your application is complete, you will receive an acknowledgment of receipt via a letter or email. Remember to check your mailbox regularly.
How long is PNP application process?
Recall that applying for permanent resident status under PNP is a two-stage process. The wait during the first stage depends on the immigration authority of each particular province or territory. The duration of this process varies in each province or territory and may be from four weeks to six months (or more in some exceptional cases).
During the second stage, you must apply for permanent residence to the IRCC. The duration of this process depends on the application method used for the stream under which you were nominated.
If you use the Express Entry PNP stream:
- A candidate waits in the Express Entry pool until an Invitation to Apply (ITA) is issued during a round of invitations. Typically, candidates who got a nomination receive an ITA at the very next round of invitations following their nomination, as they are awarded an additional 600 points in the CRS score usually bumping them to the top of their particular stream’s list. Rounds of invitations usually take place every two weeks.
- After receiving an ITA, the candidate must complete the application within 90 days.
- The processing time for an application for permanent residence is about 6 months after submission.
If you use the Non-Express Entry stream (i.e. paper-based application):
- Upon receiving a provincial or territorial nomination, a candidate must fill out the application form for permanent residence as soon as possible. This is in the candidate’s best interest, because a nomination can be withdrawn at any time before the applicant submits a complete application for permanent residence to the IRCC.
- Processing time for an application for permanent residency is about 15-19 months.
Note that processing times depend on the following factors and will vary based on them:
- The accuracy and quality of the information in your application;
- Whether or not the application and its supporting documents are complete;
- How easily IRCC can verify the applicant’s information;
- How long the applicant takes to respond to any questions or requests for clarification raised by IRCC;
- Other factors.
You can also check PNP processing time online for the second stage.
What are the fees for a PNP application?
An applicant must pay fees for immigration under the Provincial Nominee Program.
Right of Permanent Residence fee
If an applicant includes his or her spouse or common-law partner in the application, the applicant must pay double these fees.
CAN $225 must be paid for each dependent child included in the application. You will also need to pay the biometric fee for any child included in the application who is aged 14 to 19; however, biometric fees are capped at CAN $170 per family.
You will also have to pay fees to third parties for yourself and your family members (if applicable) for:
- Medical exams;
- Police Certificates; or
- Language Assessments, etc.
Please note that you must have your receipt printed to add it to the final application as proof of payment. So, save these receipts!
Should family members be included in the application?
Applicants must include all dependents on their application, whether or not the dependent persons are coming to Canada with the immigrant. Dependent persons include:
- Common-law partner; and
- Dependent children – daughters and sons (including step-children, children adopted before the age of 18, and children who are not in the applicant’s custody) who:
- Are under the age of 19 and do not have a spouse or common-law partner; and/or
- Are dependent on the applicant’s financial support because of a medical condition.
All dependent family members must be included on the original application and cannot be added at a later date. If an applicant has dependent family members who are not accompanying them to Canada, they must provide a detailed reason as to why they are non-accompanying, along with appropriate supporting documentation.
How should I choose the province for my PNP application?
Deciding on the best province or territory for you to immigrate to Canada is extremely important. The next stage of your life will be connected with this place. You should take into consideration the climate, the culture, living expenses, educational and job opportunities, etc. Here are some tips that can help you:
- Check where your profession is in demand: Search for the most updated job vacancies online and compare the numbers in different provinces. You have higher chances of receiving a nomination to apply for a province or territory where your profession is needed.
- Consider housing costs and options: Housing prices differ across provinces and in different cities, and we recommend you check them beforehand. Choose a province or territory that seems affordable to you.
- Consider the culture, climate, and other Quality of Life factors: This province will be your home for the next several years, perhaps for the rest of your life. Make sure that its cultural, and social milieu fits with your values and personality.
- Contact our team to find out the best stream for you to apply for: Each province and territory has its own streams. The eligibility criteria for them are different in many ways. You should read and analyze this information in your specific context. It is a rather complicated process to read about each stream and evaluate your chances for success. Our team of professionals can assist you, assess your case and propose a course of action that is the best fit for you.
How can I improve my chance of obtaining a PNP nomination?
First of all, we recommend you monitor the trends in the number of candidates invited to apply for permanent residence under the streams you like. Choose one that has had a large number of applicants selected in previous months.
Secondly, you should keep track of recent news regarding immigration to Canada and the dynamics of the labor markets in various provinces and territories. This will help you anticipate the plans and intentions of the Canadian government as well as of provincial governments to increase or decrease the number of immigrants admitted under particular streams.
Third, if you choose to apply for an Express Entry PNP stream, you can find tips on how to improve your CRS score.It is a complex task to improve your chances of being nominated. You should spend lots of time monitoring the recent immigration updates at federal and provincial levels as well as monitoring the current trends in different provinces and territories. Contact our team and we will provide you with comprehensive assistance throughout the process of application. We will assess your case and find out a set of streams in different regions where you will have the highest chances of getting a nomination.
Can I move out of a province or territory after using its PNP program?
Legally, yes. Upon receiving a permanent resident status, you can move to and take up residency in any province; provinces or territories cannot prevent you from leaving them. However, if you apply under PNP, but you intend to move out of the province, you are committing misrepresentation. If your intentions are discovered, it may be a ground for withdrawal of your permanent residency status.
Moreover, some provinces and territories require signing a Performance Agreement letter (different variations of this name are used). Under such an agreement, you must reside and fulfill certain obligations in the province you immigrated to. Some provinces require posting a Good Faith Deposit. The deposit is a significant amount that you lose if you leave the province without fulfilling specific promises to that province. Your immigration advisor can provide more information about this topic.
What strategy should I use to improve my chances and quicken the timeline?
There are several strategic questions that you must answer before you embark on your quest for Canadian permanent residence. A well-crafter strategy that fits your unique circumstances can improve your chances of success and can shorten your waiting period. Each immigrant's circumstances are unique and require professional assessment to determine his or her strengths and weaknesses of it. Some of the questions you should consider are the following:
- Should I apply under Express Entry or under PNP?
- Should I apply to both?
- Should I apply to more than one paper-based streams in multiple Provinces or Territories?
- Which program is best suited for my background?
- Is there an optimal month of the year to apply for a specific stream?
- Should I apply along with my spouse or should I file separate applications for them?
- If I get an invitation from a Province or Territory but want to wait for a better offer, what should I do?
- Can I move out of the province after immigrating there under its PNP?
- Should I have a proof of funds documents ready?
- What is the cheapest program to immigrate to Canada?
- What is the quickest program to get a Canadian permanent residency?
There are no cookie-cutter answers to these questions. They depend on your specific profile and the labor market conditions when you are applying. It is best to seek the advice of experts who understand the process and can provide guidance that is tailored to your unique needs. Our team of professionals can assist you at one, more or all stages of the application process. Please contact us if you need our assistance.
Still not sure if you should immigrate to Canada under the Provincial Nominee Program? Confused about which stream you should apply under? Don’t want to waste time and effort on an unsuccessful application? Contact us, and our team of professionals will assess your credentials. We will give you a realistic assessment of your chances of success and assist you in creating the best strategy for success in immigrating to Canada. We will explain how to avoid the pitfalls and improve your credentials in order to get a provincial or territorial nomination.
As the requirements for each stream under the PNP differ in each province or territory, you should prepare your applications carefully. The importance of providing clear, complete, and accurate information throughout the whole process cannot be overstated. Our well-experienced team can be your guide and advisor in your quest for Canadian permanent residence. We will help you prepare the necessary documents and assessments, as well as help you prepare applications for both stages. If you still have any questions, please contact us and we will be happy to help.