IMMIGRATION TO CANADA: OVERVIEW OF BRITISH COLUMBIAN PATHWAYS

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Our provincial motto is “Beautiful British Columbia” and visitors to the province are mostly pleasantly surprised that the reality meets the expectations. Foreign Nationals looking to immigrate to Canada may want to target British Columbia because of its natural beauty, budding technology industries, and the West Coast pace of life. No matter the reason, Foreign Nationals have various options for immigration to British Columbia.

In Canada, all immigration visas are ultimately issued by the Federal government. Accordingly, the best starting point to formulate your path to immigrate to British Columbia is to understand the programs available through the Federal – Economic Class. Below is an outline of the minimum requirements of the Federal programs in the Economic Class:

FEDERAL – ECONOMIC CLASS

Eligibility for Federal Skilled Worker Program

At least ONE year of continuous full-time (or equivalent part time totalling 1,560 hours) paid work experience in NOC skill type 0 (Managerial), skill level A (Professional), or skill level B (Technical and Skill Trades) within 10 years of application.

A minimum score of Canadian Language Benchmark (“CLB”) 7 in all four abilities (writing, reading, listening, speaking) of an approved language test in English or French.

Either of the following:
o Certificate, diploma or degree from Canadian secondary institution or post-secondary institution; OR
o Completed Foreign Credential equivalent and Educational Credential Assessment from a designated organization.

Proof of funds unless you are currently legally able to work in Canada and have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada.

Eligibility for Federal Skilled Trades Program

At least TWO years of full-time work experience (or equivalent part time totalling 3,120 hours) within the five years of application.

  • Either of the following:
    • A minimum score of CLB 4 in reading and writing and CLB 5 in speaking and listening in English; OR
    • Niveaux de Compétence Linguistique Canadien (“NCLC”) 4 in reading and writing and NCLC 5 in speaking and listening in French
  • Meet job requirements for the skilled trade set out in the NOC, except for needing a certificate of qualification.
  • Either of the following:
    • A valid offer of full-time employment for at least ONE year; OR
    • A certificate of qualification in that skilled trade issued by a Canadian provincial, territorial, or federal authority.
  • Proof of funds unless you are currently legally able to work in Canada and have a valid job offer from an employer in Canada.

Eligibility for Canadian Experience Class

  • At least ONE year of skilled, full-time (or equivalent part time totalling 1,560 hours), legal work experience in Canada in NOC skill 0, A or B within 3 years of application.
  • Either of the following:
    • A minimum language level of CLB 7 for NOC 0 or A jobs; OR
    • A minimum language level of CLB 5 for NOC B jobs.

Application Process

The Government of Canada has an online questionnaire to assess the eligibility of potential applicants to the various Federal Programs in the Economic Class. Before applying, potential applicants can input their information to confirm their eligibility before applying. The online questionnaire can be accessed here.

Applications to the above Federal Economic class programs is facilitated by the Federal Express Entry system. This is an online system where interested applicants create an online profile after confirming their eligibility, so that their profiles may be entered into a pool with other applicants. While meeting the minimum requirements confirms eligibility to a program, it does not guarantee that the applicant will be selected for an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Selection of applicants for invitations to apply is determined according to the points assigned to their profile based on factors such as age, education, work experience and language capability and that of their accompanying spouse, if any. Each round of invitations has a specific threshold score, and invitations are issued to a number of the top applicants whose point totals exceed that threshold. Below is a brief overview of factors that could affect an applicant’s point totals along with a summary of maximum points for each factor:

A. Core/Human Capital Factors (Maximum 500 points)

    • Age: 0 to 110 points with maximum points for ages 20 to 29 years old (0 to 100 with spouse)
    • Level Of Education: 0 to 150 points with maximum points for Ph.D. (0 to 140 with spouse)
    • Official Language Proficiency: 0 to 160 points with maximum points for top CLB scores (0 to 150 with spouse)
    • Canadian Work Experience  0 to 80 points with maximum points for 5 years or more of experience (0 to 70 with spouse)

B. Spouse or Common-law Partner Factors

    • Level of Education: 0 to 10
    • Official Language Proficiency: 0 to 20
    • Canadian Work Experience: 0 to 10

C. Skill Transferability Factors (Maximum 100 points)

    • Education: up to 50 points for either of the following:
      • good/strong official language proficiency AND a post-secondary degree; OR
      • Canadian Work Experience AND post-secondary degree
    • Foreign Work Experience up to 50 points for either of the following:
      • Official language proficiency of CLB 7 or higher AND foreign work experience; OR
      • Canadian work experience AND foreign work experience
    • Certificate of Qualification (trade occupations)  up to 50 points for good/strong official language proficiency AND certificate of qualification

D. Additional points (Maximum 600 points)

    • Sibling Living in Canada (Citizen/Permanent Resident): Up to 15 points
    • French Language Skills: up to 30 points
    • Post Secondary Education in Canada: up to 30 points
    • Arranged Employment: up to 200 points; with maximum of 200 for NOC 00 and 50 for NOC 0, A, B positions
    • Provincial Nomination: 600 points

Click here for a summary table of maximum points available for the various factors.

You can also get a better understanding of how points are assigned under the Express Entry system by following the prompts at the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) tool found at https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/skilled/crs-tool.asp.

For reference as to the threshold score for the most recent round of invitations to apply, the June 11, 2020 round of invitations to apply for permanent residence under the Express Entry system were sent to 3,559 applicants and the threshold points to be invited was 437.

BRITISH COLUMBIA PROVINCIAL NOMINEE PROGRAMS

The Federal government of Canada and governments of a number of Provinces and Territories have entered into agreements to select individuals for permanent residence in their respective Provinces and Territories. As noted in the chart above, such a nomination issued by a province would boost an applicant’s score by 600 points. In British Columbia, if you are eligible under one of the Federal program in the Economic Class and are able to enter the Federal Express Entry system, you can also participate in the corresponding Express Entry BC programs, which are summarized as follows:

Express Entry BC

  • Express Entry BC – Skilled Worker
  • Express Entry BC – Healthcare Professional
  • Express Entry BC – International Graduate
  • Express Entry BC – International Post-Graduate

Eligibility

Applying under the Express Entry BC Stream, if applicants are eligible, is more advantageous than applying under the regular BC PNP Skills Immigration Stream. The reason is that the Express Entry BC Stream involves an accelerated permanent residence process. As these programs are connected to the Federal Express Entry system, applicants must also be eligible for one of the above three Federal Programs under the Economic Class to qualify. In addition, applicants would also need to meet the other requirements for Express Entry BC Stream which include the following:

  • acceptance of a full-time, indeterminate job offer (i.e. a permanent job or a job without a set end-date) from a BC employer;
    • the job must be in NOC 0, A or B
  • qualification to work in the job in BC;
  • minimum of two years of directly related work experience;
  • show you can support yourself and dependents; and
  • wages offered are comparative to BC wage rates for the occupation.

Application Process

Once eligibility is confirmed, applicants would register through the Express Entry system as well as the Provincial Nomination Program system. If they receive a nomination from the Provincial Program their Express Entry profile receives a point boost of 600 points – significantly boosting the chances of being selected for an invitation to apply for permanent residence. This nomination will also be accompanied with a work permit support letter allowing applicants to work while they wait for their application for permanent residence to be approved.

An example of when the Express Entry BC –Skilled Worker program is appropriate, would be a BC employer wanting to bring a foreign trained accountant into their Vancouver office. The foreign trained accountant meets the requisite minimum number of years of work experience by having two years of experience directly related to the job offer for an accountant position. Additional years of experience only serves to add to the applicant’s point totals. Meeting the required credentials under the NOC description for accountants as well as the language requirements of the Federal Program in the Economic Class is also important.

BC PNP Skills Immigration Stream

  • Skilled Worker
  • Healthcare Professional
  • International Graduate
  • International Post-Graduate
  • Entry Level and Semi-Skilled

Eligibility

Applicants who are ineligible for the Express Entry BC programs because they are ineligible for any of the Federal Programs under the Economic Class, may still consider applying for a provincial nomination through one of the above Skills Immigration Stream programs. The eligibility for the programs through the Skills Immigration Stream is slightly different from the Express Entry BC Stream in relation to the language requirements. Under the Skills Immigration Stream, for applicants with job offers for occupations classified under NOC B, C or D, their language test results must meet a minimum score equal to or great than CLB 4 across all four competencies (listening, speaking, reading and writing). For applicants to the Skills Immigration Stream with job offers for occupations classified under NOC 0 or A, there is no requirement to submit valid language test results, unless applicants would like to claim points for language.

Below is a list of designated testing agencies for either official language:

Maximum points available for language ability is 30 under the BC Provincial Nomination Programs. While the points available through this option are significant, applicants not claiming points for language could potentially make up the shortfall in points for language with points for other factors.

Note that the Entry Level and Semi-Skilled category is only available through the Skills Immigration Stream. If applicants are considering occupations that are available under the Entry Level and Semi-Skilled category, there is a complete list available on the BC PNP Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC Program Guide available here.

Eligible positions are occupations in tourism/hospitality, long-haul trucking and food processing.

Application Process

Applicants to the Skills Immigration Stream would complete registration online for the suitable BC Provincial Nomination Program. Registration Scores are allotted accordingly under the Provincial Nomination Program and applicants’ profiles are placed in a selection pool. Periodically, highest-scoring individuals are invited to apply for a provincial nomination. Applications that are approved receive a nomination to apply for permanent residence. Along with the nomination, applicants usually receive a support letter that allows a simpler process for applying for a work permit.

CONCLUSION

Navigating the various Federal, Provincial and joint Federal-Provincial programs can be a complex tasks for those interested in immigrating to British Columbia. Whether it be through one of the Provincial Nomination Programs or through another economic class, Foreign Nationals considering immigration to British Columbia have many options to consider. This overview of the various, potential options aims to provide some clarity to the different paths to take.

Key Contacts: