With its generally ‘open’ immigration policies and potentially untapped markets, Canada may increasingly look like an attractive place to relocate or start a business. Canada’s immigration policies are broadly understood to be more welcoming than those south of the border, but to know what this really means for businesses looking to expand their search for employees to international candidates, it is important to consider existing options for Canadian work permits and pathways to permanent residence.
If the potential candidate is looking to settle in British Columbia and has skilled work experience in occupations classified as NOC skill level A, O, or B, a program that should be considered is known as the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (“BC PNP”). There are various categories under the BC PNP, but the one that we will examine in detail here is the Express Entry B.C. – Skilled Worker Category.
The BC PNP is administered in partnership with the federal government of Canada. A number of provinces have their own nomination programs, and as economic immigration streams, they are each designed for workers who have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the economy of the specific province, and for those who intend to live in that province. If approved as a provincial nominee, skilled workers, as well as their dependent family members can apply to become permanent residents of Canada in the Provincial Nominee Class. This is an accelerated process leading to permanent residence. While the permanent residence application is underway, the potential candidate can also apply for a work permit.
British Columbia is looking for skilled workers who have post-secondary education or training and several years of employment experience in a professional, management, technical, trade or other skilled occupations. An overview of the BC PNP stream: Express Entry B.C. – Skilled Worker Category will hopefully assist businesses when considering recruitment of international candidates. In order to meet the eligibility requirements for this particular stream, note the following elements:
Eligibility for a program under the Federal System means eligibility in one of the following categories: Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades, or Canadian Experience Class. A link to determine eligibility under the Federal Express Entry System can be found here:
One of the major hurdles of eligibility in the Federal System is language ability as measured by the test results of an approved language test. Each program under the Federal System has minimum language benchmark requirements in either official language: English or French. For English, the minimum level is 7 for all four capabilities under the Federal Skilled Worker Program and the Canadian Experience Class. If the position can be classified as NOC B, the minimum level is 5 under the Canadian Experience Class. For the Federal Skilled Trades Program, the minimum is 5 in speaking and listening and 4 in reading and writing.
The position being offered must be in NOC skill level A, O or B which coincide to professional, managerial or technical, and skilled trades positions, respectively. The B.C. employer must make a written offer of employment in a position that offers wages that are competitive with B.C. wage rates for the occupation.
The potential candidate’s directly related work experience must be classified in the same NOC code as the B.C. job offer and consist of paid employment. If the NOC codes do not match, experience in an occupation at a NOC skill level that is equal or greater than the NOC code for the B.C. job offer may also be included, if the potential candidate is able to satisfactorily demonstrate that the experience is directly related.
The potential candidates must demonstrate that they meet minimum income requirements according to their annual wage in B.C., the location of residence in B.C., and the number of dependents included in the application.
Potential candidates can confirm their eligibility for one of the Federal Express Entry Programs through creating an Express Entry profile online. Once they have their IRCC Express Entry Profile Number and Job Seeker Validation Code, they would then be able to register a BC PNP profile online. At this point the potential candidate is placed in the Federal Express Entry pool, and their profile remains valid for a year. They will also have a point total assigned to them based on their age, education history, English language score, and work history.
Registration with BC PNP does not guarantee an invitation to apply for permanent residence; however, professionals with significant education credentials and work experience will typically have high enough points under the BC PNP program to receive an Invitation to Apply for a nomination under the BC PNP. The standard processing time* of an application for a nomination through BC PNP varies from two to three months. A successful nomination gives a point bump of 600 points to the potential candidate’s point total under the Federal Express Entry Program – essentially guaranteeing an invitation to apply for permanent residence.
As the standard processing time* for permanent residence applications is six to eight months, the potential candidate, will likely want to have the ability to work in the period between nomination and permanent residence being granted. Conveniently, the BC PNP will issue, upon request, a letter which directs immigration authorities to issue a work permit without the need for labour certification from Service Canada. The work permit bridges the time between nomination and permanent residence.
Canada, not unlike the U.S., consists largely of immigrants and their descendants. But where the two countries increasingly differ are in their policies towards new immigrants. For Canada, an aging, already small population, has triggered immigration policies designed to attract skilled workers to enrich the Canadian economy. As Americans all wait with baited breath for the results of the 2020 elections and what that will mean for their immigration policies, businesses can find reassurance in Canada’s somewhat more consistently friendly, immigration policies.
*The standard processing times for both Provincial and Federal programs are likely to be extended due to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.