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What’s New in Provincial (Immigration) Nominee Programs
By Brian Edward Tadayoshi Tsuji (604-688-2286; bett@istar.ca)

In Canada we are experiencing strong economies in a number of provinces such as British Columbia and Alberta. The demand for labour is high. The unemployment levels are low. The Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) in British Columbia and Alberta and the other provinces are reacting to the increasing demands of the individual provinces for more labour. Consequently processing times for PNP applications filed in British Columbia and Alberta are now being reduced significantly.

There are a number of important changes taking place in Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) across the country. The key changes are: processing times are being reduced; more staff are being hired; programs are improving their clarity of requirements; new programs are being considered; and some programs are being discontinued. 

PNPs continue to grow rapidly in popularity. This results in more applications being filed. The PNPs have been able to hire enough new staff to deal with the increased numbers of applications. Consequently processing times for PNP applications are now being reduced significantly.

BC PNP has hired a number of new officers and staff.  BC PNP has implemented a number of internal policies to “streamline” the application process. The combination of these two factors has been positive.

The processing time has been reduced on the Skilled Worker applications to approximately 4 weeks from the previous 8-12 weeks.

Similarly BC PNP Business application processing time has been reduced. The processing time on the initial assessment is now approximately 7 days. The processing time to obtain processing of the full application to obtain BC PNP Business approval which can be used for a work visa application is now approximately 4 months.

BC PNP policy is constantly being clarified and changing. New policy is posted on the BC PNP website at: www.PNP.gov.bc.ca or ecdev.gov.bc.ca/programsandservices/pnp/index.htm
You should constantly check the website for updates in policy

BC PNP is attempting to become more specific on which occupations qualify and which occupations are excluded. If you go to the website you will find the latest list of occupations which qualify and the occupations which are generally excluded.

Previously under the International Student category it was only graduates of BC university programs who were eligible. It is now opened up to graduates of two year BC college programs as well.

The BC PNP is unlikely to approve Skilled Worker applications that pay less than $15.00-$16.00 per hour.

With BC PNP International Student applications BC PNP may accept $14.00 per hour in situations where the graduated student is in a training program. The employer will need to show the graduated student will be moving up the salary scale as the graduated student gains experience.

Previously, for a BC employer to be eligible, the employer needed to have been in business for one year in BC and have at least 5 employees. It is now possible for an employer who has a track record of success in other countries and other provinces that wishes to open a new office in BC to apply for BC PNP. This type of application will require a detailed history of the employer elsewhere, what the employer wishes to do in BC, and how many new employees it will hire or is in the process of hiring.
An example of an exception which may qualify is a serial entrepreneur who had started a few companies in BC previously. The applicant has now started a new company which has been in business in BC for 6 months and will be shortly hiring three engineers.
Similarly, a company with a big presence in the rest of Canada, and has been in business in BC for 6 months, and will shortly hire Canadians could apply.

It should be noted if an applicant does not qualify under one of the categories set out in the BC PNP website, the option is available to file an application that will be “considered on its merits.” If you wish to file an application “considered on its merits” which does not fit in a stated BC PNP category it is recommended you contact BC PNP by telephone to discuss your potential application.

BC PNP is moving away from requiring the position be advertised. The website states BC PNP is not expecting the employer to demonstrate a shortage. However, if your applicant is in a category where it is debatable as to whether there is a shortage, to be safe you may still wish to do advertisement in a local newspaper (eg. Vancouver Sun), local internet job website (www.working.com), and the Federal Internet Job Bank.

Similarly, Alberta PNP has increased its capacity to process applicants. The budget for the Alberta PNP staffing has been increased. As of April 2, there are now 23 people and 16 program officers at Alberta PNP.

At present Alberta PNP has little or no backlog. A completed application can be processed in 5 days or less. The average processing time for an application has been reduced to less than 4 weeks. It should be noted that over 90 percent of the application Alberta PNP receives are incomplete resulting in increased processing times.

With the increase in budget and staffing, Alberta PNP targets have also increased.
In 2006, the target was 500. The target was exceeded as 525 were processed. In 2006-2007 the target is 1000. This number will be achieved. In 2007-2008 the target will increase to 2,500.

In the future, there may be an expansion of the Alberta PNP program in terms of eligible occupations and new categories.

Alberta PNP currently has several pilot programs:

  1. Food Processing Pilot Program deals with meat processing and butchering.
    This Pilot Program is related to the Alberta Department of Agriculture.
  2. Hospitality Sector Pilot Program deals with beverage servers and room attendants.
    The applicant must meet training requirements set out by the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association.
  3. Long Haul Truck Driving Pilot Program.
  4. Self Employed Farmer Pilot Program.
    There are several requirements that the applicant must meet including: visit Alberta Agriculture; invest a minimum of $500,000 in a farm; and have experience as a farmer.

For more details you should check the Alberta PNP website.

Alberta PNP forms have been changed. The new forms will be up on the Alberta PNP website by April 2, 2007.

Nova Scotia PNP also has several changes:

  1. No more applications are being accepted under the Economic Category since July 1, 2006. The stream is being redesigned, and the new criteria should be released in the Fall of 2007.
  2. There is a new Family Business Worker category as of December 2006. Here is the link to the specifics: http://www.novascotiaimmigration.com
  3. There will be an International Student Stream that should be introduced this Spring.
  4. New criteria for the Community-Identified Stream are coming (as far as we know – age limit of 55, similar to Skilled Worker Stream without the job offer), probably sometime this Spring.
  5. There are no application fees.

It should be noted that the Prince Edward Island PNP Immigrant Partner Category temporary suspension of the processing of new applications has been lifted effective as of April 16, 2007. The PEI PNP website will post details of the program re-instatement.

For further details please see PEI PNP website and contact PEI PNP. Website and contact information is set out below.

Immigration Services, PO Box 1176, 94 Euston Street, 2nd Floor, Charlottetown, Prince Edward IslandC1A 7M8. Telephone: 902-894-0351; Fax: 902-368-5886; Email: peinominee@gov.pe.ca; Web: www.gov.pe.ca/immigration.

Ontario announced a new Pilot Ontario PNP program launched on May 24, 2007.

Ontario’s Pilot Provincial Nominee Program (“Pilot PNP” or “Ontario PNP”) launched on May 24, 2007. In the first year the Ontario PNP will nominate 500 persons.

Ontario PNP only has a Skilled Worker Program.

Some basic points about Ontario PNP procedure:

  1. Applications processed on first come first served basis
  2. Employer driven
  3. Employer makes pre-screening application to Ontario PNP
  4. Employer must certain minimum requirements including: being in business for 3 years; sales of $1,000,000 for previous fiscal year; 5 full time permanent employees; have business premises in Ontario where nominee will work 
  5. Employer able to apply for positions for prospective foreign employee in limited occupations in four sectors of: health; education; manufacturing; construction
  6. There are only 20 eligible occupations:

Professional Stream Health Sector (8 occupations)
Specialist Physicians; General Practitioners and Family Physicians; Pharmacists; Audiologists and Speech Pathologists; Physiotherapists; Registered Nurses; Medical Laboratory Technicians; Medical Radiation Technologists

Professional Stream – Education Sector (2 occupations)
University Professors; High End Researchers

Skilled Worker Stream – Manufacturing Sector (5 occupations)
Machinists and Machining and Tooling Inspectors; Tool and Die Makers; Industrial Electricians; Construction Millwrights and Industrial Mechanics; Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanics

Skilled Worker Stream – Construction Sector (5 occupations)
Carpenters; Bricklayers; Cement Finishers; Tilesetters; Drywall Installers and Finishers

After Ontario PNP approves the Ontario employer’s PNP application the Ontario employer can send the prospective individual foreign employee an application package for nomination as a nominee under Ontario PNP.

Prospective employee will have 60 days after the date of issue of the Pre-screen position form from Ontario PNP to Ontario employer to submit the completed application to Ontario PNP. There is the possibility of obtaining one 30 day extension.

The Ontario PNP will attempt to process each PNP application within 60 days of filing.

There are two categories:

  1. Employer Category
  2. Multinational Investor Category

Details of these categories appear below.

  1. Employer Category

Employers can recruit professionals and skilled workers in the eligible occupations in the Ontario PNP Occupation list.

Steams within the Employer Category
The Employer Category has three streams: Professional; Skilled Worker; and International Student.

Professional Stream
Consists of 8 occupations in the health care sector. It also includes two occupations in the education sector. (Maximum 200 nominations)

Skilled Worker Stream
Consists of 10 occupations in the manufacturing and construction sector. (Maximum 200 nominations)

International Student Stream
Targets recent graduates from Ontario colleges and universities in eligible occupations in the Ontario PNP Occupation List. (Maximum 50 nominations). Only occupations on the Occupation List  are eligible for positions in the first year of the Ontario PNP. They are subject to change in future.

Ratios of Employees to Number of PNP Nominees
The general rule is for an employer in Greater Toronto Area (GTA) it is eligible for one PNP nominee for each five employees. Outside of the GTA employers are eligible for slightly more than one PNP nominee for each five employees.

  1. Multinational Investor Category

Multinational Investor Category is intended to assist human resources needs of companies making major investments in Ontario by allowing expedited granting of nominations for nominated employees. Approximately 50 nominations in this category will be available in first year of Ontario PNP.

Employer eligibility for Multinational Category 
Employer must:

  • Make a qualifying investment in Ontario of minimum of $10 million
  • Create minimum 25 full time jobs

Employer may request up to 5 nominees for each qualifying investment.

Provincial (Immigration) Nominee Programs (“PNP”) are assuming a more significant role in immigration in Canada. There are new changes to PNPs being announced on a regular basis. British Columbia and Manitoba are PNPs with significant recent changes.
Newfoundland and Labrador PNP is now reorganized and again open for business.   

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (“BC PNP”) on March 30, 2005 announced a new reduced minimum investment amount of $800,000 (from the previous $1.0 million) for the BC PNP Business Skills category. This category allows for investment within Vancouver.

BC PNP on March 30, 2005 also announced a new reduced minimum investment amount of $800,000 (from the previous $1.0 million) for the BC PNP Projects category. This category allows for investment within Vancouver. The highlight under the BC PNP Projects category is the company can bring in two key staff as well as the original applicant. 

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program on March 11, 2005 announced a new program that will allow physicians to be nominated by BC PNP. In order to be eligible physicians will need to meet certain requirements such as:

  • be here on a work visa;
  • have passed the Medical Council of Canada Evaluation Examination (if required); and
  • have obtained a letter from the British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons confirming the MCCEE has been passed (if required), has received a positive assessment from his/her supervising physician, and that the physician is now eligible to apply to the BC PNP.

After the physician has written and passed the  MCCEE and has the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons letter, the physician can apply for both a three year extension of the work visa or apply to BC PNP.

To accommodate these changes, one of the categories under BC PNP Strategic Occupations will be renamed to cover Health Care Professionals.
A similar program will also be set up for midwifes.

BC PNP Strategic Occupations (deals with skilled workers) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005 has already exceeded its target number of applications of 300.
BC PNP Strategic Occupations will likely have a large increase in the target number of applications for the April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006 fiscal year. The target number could be as high as 600 which is double last year’s target.

BC PNP Business (deals with businessmen) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005 will also likely see a substantial increase in number of applications, money invested and jobs created. This year alone, 84 candidates (and their dependents) have been approved under the program. Of these, 62% will live in communities outside Greater Vancouver.
These new 84 candidates have committed to invest more than $73 million, and to creat 573 full-time jobs. BC PNP Business will also have a similar large increase in the target numbers for the fiscal year ending April 1, 2006.

On February 8, 2004, the Province of Manitoba announced a new Immigration Program for Young Farmers incorporating a specific section for agriculture into its Provincial Nominee Program for Business

The new farmer program has been designed to help build the rural Manitoba economy and increase population in small communities. It intends to attract 100 new immigrants to Manitoba annually.

The basic qualifications for an applicant to be eligible under the program are:

  • 40 years old or under;
  • Farm experience is helpful but not necessary;
  • Minimum investment of $150,000 in a farming operation;
  • No minimum Personal Net Worth required;
  • Business proposal showing a minimum income of $35,000 before
  • taxes is required for the first year.  Applicants may look for jobs outside the farming operation;
  • It is expected that Applicants will become familiar with the Manitoba mentorship farm program and to determine the availability of the farming opportunities before they move to Manitoba.  They are not required to purchase a farm until after they have been issued their immigrant visas. 
  • A cash deposit will be required.

The intention of the program is to attract young farmers to the Province recognizing that they may be required to derive income from outside the farming operation during the first year in Manitoba.  This is a unique program not restricted to individuals with previous farming experience who have the intention and ability to purchase a farm and thereby integrate into rural Manitoba communities.

The reorganized Newfoundland and Labrador PNP has both a Skilled Worker and a Business Category.

To qualify under the Skilled Worker category some of the key requirements are: job offer from employer in Newfoundland; job offer is in an area listed on the Strategic Sector List; and enough points to pass under the assessment test.

There are two types of Business categories: Immigrant Entrepreneur and Immigrant Partner. To qualify under Immigrant Entrepreneur some of the key requirements are: establishing an active business or purchasing and expanding an existing business in Newfoundland or Labrador in a strategic sector category; net worth of $750,000; minimum liquid assets of $350,000; minimum investment of $200,000 (within Greater St. John’s region) or minimum investment of $100,000 outside of Greater St. John’s region; minimum 5 years business experience; good faith deposits of $25,000; exploratory visit; and business plan. The Immigrant Partner category is intended for prospective immigrants with business and/or entrepreneurial skills and expertise who wish to partner, in a limited manner, with other additional immigrants (to a maximum of 3 additional immigrant partners) in establishing a new business to be located in Newfoundland or Labrador or invest in expanding existing Newfoundland or Labrador company.

Brian Edward Tadayoshi Tsuji
Canadian Immigration Lawyer
2800 Park Place
666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6C 2Z7

Tel:(604) 643-6496 Fax:(604) 605-3596
Email: btsuji@davis.ca Website: http://www.davis.ca

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Brian Edward Tadayoshi Tsuji
Canadian Immigration Lawyer
2800 Park Place
666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6C 2Z7

Tel:(604) 643-6496 Fax:(604) 605-3596
Email: btsuji@davis.ca Website: http://www.davis.ca