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Provincial Nominee Programs

What Are Provincial Nominee Programs?

If you are thinking about immigrating to Canada, the Provincial Nominee Program option might be the route for you. This program allows Canada’s provinces and territories to nominate individuals who want to live in that particular province or territory to become permanent residents of Canada. Provinces and territories look for people who have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to their economies.

Not to get too far into the weeds on this one but immigration is actually a shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provincial government. As such, the provinces and territories have their own immigration programs that target certain groups called “streams.” Each stream has specific requirements you must meet to be eligible. The groups of people these streams target include students, businesspeople, skilled workers, and semi-skilled workers.

How to Apply & Some Things to Consider

Depending on which Provincial Nominee Program stream you are applying to, you might apply using the paper-based process or using the online process through Express Entry where you are notified of the provinces’ interest in your application and directed to apply.

We recommend not applying directly for a provincial nominee program as your sole way of coming to Canada (with some very few exceptions) as these tend to be lotteries for the most part. Again, this can vary depending on the province and the stream that you are looking and the stream but when you look at the number of people who try for this option and then weigh that against the number of spots or the quota that the province has, then it is not that wild of a statement to make.

Some other noteworthy proclivities of the program is that the programs will open and shut quickly (sometimes within hours of opening as the caps have been reached) and when you start considering some of the business streams, they are quite onerous in this as they can take years, have a number of hoops to jump through, while at the same time can be quite costly to set yourself up only to be put into a lottery system where you may or may not be selected to apply.

Again, I want you to treat this as a “lottery” in the sense that if you are picked, you are, and if you are not, you’re not. Provinces typically look at the Express Entry pool of candidates when choosing to nominate an applicant. So, if you are already in the Express Entry pool, you are technically in the pool of being picked for a provincial nomination. 

Paper-based Process

There are two stages for applying to the Provincial Nominee Program using the paper-based process.

First, you need to decide in which province or territory you want to live and apply to that province or territory under a non-Express Entry stream. You must meet the eligibility requirements of the program that nominates you. The nomination decision is based on the particular province or territory’s immigration needs and if you plan on living there long-term.

Second, after you have been nominated you need to submit a paper application to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence. IRCC will decide on your application based on Canadian immigration law. You have to pass a medical exam and get a police check (certificate) no matter which province or territory you move to.

Keep in mind that processing times using the paper-based process are longer than through Express Entry and that you need to go through 2 stages of processing, both with the province/territory and then the Federal government. Needless to say, if you are selected by the province and are successful with getting a nomination then the 2nd phase is more of a formality to ensure that you are meeting the security and medical requirements amongst other criteria within the federal immigration mandates.

Stage 1: Getting Nominated by a Province or Territory 

To be nominated by a province or territory, you must meet the eligibility requirements set out by the province or territory. For a quick look at some of the different programs, click on the following links and you can explore further:  

Also, of note Quebec has great options to immigrate to the province and while this is not technically a PNP program as Quebec has its own distinct immigration system, it is very akin to one and a great stream for people to settle in Quebec, especially if they are a French speaker. Also, it is noteworthy that if you are a high net worth individual, you can settle in Quebec by investing in the province through the Quebec Immigrant Investor Program. This program is the ONLY passive investor program that is open now in the country and has been a hallmark of the Quebec immigration system. You can see their immigration website to learn more about moving to Quebec.  

The following are some of the more popular Provincial Nominee Programs that you might be interested in investigating further.

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)

If you are interested in moving to Ontario, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) can be a good option. This is an economic immigration program for foreign workers, international students, and those with the right skills, experience, and education to meet Ontario’s economic needs.

There are three ways to be eligible for the OINP:

  • You have a permanent job offer from an Ontario employer;
  • You have valuable work experience, education, language skills, and a profile in Canada’s Express Entry,
  • You are a graduate student; or
  • You are an entrepreneur looking to start a new or buy an existing business in Ontario.

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP)

British Columbia (BC) offers three different pathways to becoming a permanent resident through its Provincial Nominee Program: Skills Immigration, Express Entry BC, and Entrepreneur Immigration. Each pathway contains subcategories under which you can apply depending on your National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level, job, or international student status.

To be eligible for the BC PNP, you must apply through one of the following programs: 

  • Skills Immigration: For skilled and semi-skilled workers in occupations in high demand in BC.
  • Express Entry BC: For skilled workers who want a faster way to immigrate to BC. Through this stream, you must qualify for one of the three federal economic immigration programs: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program, or Canadian Experience Class.
  • Entrepreneur Immigration: For those looking to manage a business in BC. Applicants must show that they have the required personal and investment funds to qualify for this stream.

New Brunswick Skilled Worker Stream

The New Brunswick Skilled Worker Stream is designed for workers with the skills, education, and work experience to participate in New Brunswick’s economy. It helps employers connect with workers and graduates whose skills are in demand in the province.

To be eligible for this program, you must show that you are ready for permanent residence. That is, you intend to move to New Brunswick and live permanently in the province. You must have also received a genuine offer of employment to be eligible, and this offer is for a permanent, full-time, year-round position in an eligible occupation. Finally, you must also demonstrate that you are qualified for the position according to the NOC, industry standards, and so on.

It is noteworthy, that the government does “prefer” to see people who already have an attachment to the province in all of the programs and this can be having a family member in the province, already working in the province or even being a graduate of a school in the province that you are applying to.

Stage 2: Applying for Permanent Residence with the Federal Government  

Once you have received your nomination, you can apply for permanent residence through IRCC. You can find the application package here. This package includes an instruction guide and the forms you need to complete. Make sure you follow the guide as it will help you fill out the forms correctly.

If you provide false information on your application for permanent residence, your application will be refused. Furthermore, you will be found inadmissible for the reason of misrepresentation, and you will be barred from applying for permanent residence for five years. So, be truthful when filling out your application!

After you have completed the application package, the next step is to pay your application fees. These fees, in most cases, include the processing fees for you and anyone included on your application, the Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF), a biometrics fee, and other third-party fees.

The RPRF is $500, which is to be paid once your permanent residence application has been approved. You need to pay this fee before you become a permanent resident. This fee can be paid at the same time that your application fee is paid to avoid delays, and the RPRF will be refunded if your permanent residence application is withdrawn or refused. This is the only fee that is refunded after your application is processed.

To avoid delays, you should pay the biometrics fee when you submit your application. This fee covers the cost of collecting fingerprints and a digital photo. Once you have paid the fee, you will receive a letter confirming that you need to give your biometrics and where you can go. You must show this letter when you give your biometrics. You must give your biometrics in person, and you can find a collection point here

Third-party fees include fees for things such as medical exams, police certificates, language testing, and educational credential assessments that you will be required to submit when you apply for permanent residence. Check which fees apply to you by looking at the instruction guide.

To ensure that your application is accepted, make sure that you answer all questions and sign all forms, include your processing fee and all supporting documents. You must include a copy of the nomination certificate that the province or territory has sent you. Your application must be mailed to the address in the instruction guide. Do not send your application to the visa office in your home country.

Online Process through Express Entry

There are two ways to apply using the online process through Express Entry.

The first way is to contact the province or territory you are interested in living in and applying for a nomination under an Express Entry stream. Once you are nominated, you create an Express Entry profile and indicate that you have been nominated.

The second, and most common way, is to create your Express Entry profile first and indicate the provinces and territories you are interested in moving to. If a province or territory sends you a “notification of interest,” you can contact them directly. After that, you apply to the province or territory’s Express Entry stream. If you are nominated, you will receive the offer to your account and you can accept it electronically.

In both cases, you must meet the eligibility requirements set out by the provinces and territories you are interested in, and you must also meet the minimum criteria for Express Entry. You must also be eligible for one of the immigration programs that Express Entry covers, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program; the Federal Skilled Trades Program; or the Canadian Experience Class. If you are invited to apply to Express Entry, you must submit an electronic application to the IRCC.

The first step using the online process through Express Entry is to create an account and an Express Entry profile.

You must meet the Express Entry criteria, including the requirements for at least one of the following programs:

  • Federal Skilled Worker Program
  • Federal Skilled Trades Program
  • Canadian Experience Class

If you meet the requirements, you will be put into the Express Entry pool of candidates. If you have already been nominated by a province or territory, you must show that in your Express Entry profile.

  • In the Application Details section under “nomination and selection,” answer “yes” to indicate that you have a nomination.
  • Choose the province or territory that has nominated you.

Get an Express Entry Stream Nomination (or Have Your Nomination Confirmed)

Step 1: If you already have a nomination
, the province or territory must confirm your nomination electronically. Contact the province or territory directly and give them your Express Entry profile number and Job Seeker Validation Code. The province or territory will confirm your nomination with IRCC, and you will get a message on your account asking to you accept or reject the nomination.

If you accept the nomination, click “accept” and you will get a letter in your account that confirms your nomination. Your profile will then be placed into the Express Entry pool of candidates, and you will be given 600 additional points that will help you receive an invitation to apply.

Step 2: If you do not already have a nomination, there are two ways that you can get a nomination under the Express Entry stream:

  • Apply to the province or territory directly; or
  • A province or territory finds your Express Entry profile and contacts you through your account.

To apply to the province or territory directly, visit their website and apply to one of their Express Entry streams. Once you have received a nomination, you must update your Express Entry profile (see step one). 

The second way to get a nomination under the Express Entry stream is if a province or territory finds your Express Entry profile and contacts you through your account. Provinces and territories can search Express Entry profiles to find suitable candidates to nominate.

If you are selected, the province or territory will send you a “notification of interest” letter to your account. This letter tells you to contact the province or territory to discuss your options. It is not a nomination letter. You will then apply to the province or territory’s Express Entry stream. This process is between you and the province or territory and not through Express Entry. Once you have received a nomination, you must update your Express Entry profile (see step 1). You have 30 calendar days to accept or reject the nomination.

When you receive an invitation to apply for permanent residence under Express Entry, you have 90 days to submit your online application.

What if the Province or Territory Withdraws Your Nomination?

If your nomination is withdrawn before you are invited to apply, you must withdraw your profile from the Express Entry pool and submit a new profile.

If your nomination is withdrawn after you are invited to apply but before you submit your application for permanent residence, you must decline the invitation and withdraw your profile and submit a new one. If you choose to apply for permanent residence anyway, your application will be refused, and your fees will not be refunded.

In both cases, if you do not follow the instructions above, you could be found inadmissible and barred from applying for permanent residency for five years.


As a general rule of thumb, we do not necessarily recommend applying for a provincial nominee program. Again, PNPs operate like a lottery. If a province wants to nominate you, they look to the Express Entry pool to find applicants. We recommend applying through the other Express Entry programs (Federal Skilled Worker, Federal Skilled Trades, Canadian Experience Class) and have the PNP option on the backburner.

Should you have any questions about Provincial Nominee Programs or are ready to dive into getting a Second passport to Canada, feel free to reach out to us and we will surely get you started to understand the options that are available to you!

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