Most clients, when they consider seeking permanent residence in Canada, tend to focus on the Federal government’s Express Entry program. Canada invited approximately 108,000 people through Express Entry last year, and there are plans to increase that number over the next three years. What is not as commonly known, however, is that Canada’s provinces also run their own robust immigration programs, which can independently, or in conjunction with the Federal Express Entry system, present very good options for hopeful immigrants to Canada.

One of the reasons the Provincial Nomination Programs (PNP) are less well-known, may be that they are extensive and potentially confusing, with each Province running a distinctly different process. Unlike the Federal program, PNP are as varied as the provinces that provide them. This reveals a thoughtful and deliberate approach, as labour shortages and distinct needs vary from one geographic region to the other. For example, Quebec will prioritize candidates with knowledge of French; some provinces may favour particular professions or skills in which they are experiencing a shortage; while other provinces will focus on a particular demographic, such as students and younger workers, or on family or community affiliations for better prospects at adaptability and success for incoming immigrants.

Irrespective of their different programs and preferences, the process is usually the same across the board. An interested candidate can research the available PNP to find whether they meet the required set of criteria. The candidate would then apply through the provincial program directly, usually by creating an online account in the same way they would do for the Express Entry program. Their PNP application will be evaluated by the relevant provincial immigration authority, and if successful, the candidate will receive a Provincial Nomination Certificate. With this certificate, they do not need to apply to the Federal government’s Express Entry program and can instead simply apply to the Federal government for permanent residence.

A candidate can however decide to participate in the provincial and federal programs simultaneously. This is often an excellent option for Express Entry candidates who may not have a sufficient score to qualify for the PR draw and need a boost in points. A PNP certificate could significantly increase their chances in the pool. A PNP certificate automatically provides 600 points. Since most draws require scores of high 400s for successful candidates, a candidate with a PNP nomination would secure an Invitation to Apply. However, PNP should be considered only by candidates who have genuine intent to live in the province from which they are receiving a nomination, which is why upfront research about their destination is an important step.

After a temporary suspension of draws due to the COVID pandemic, Ontario, British Colombia, Manitoba, Alberta, PEI, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan reopened their draws at the start of 2021.  As provinces work to meet the needs of their labour shortages, it is expected that PNP nominations will continue to play a strong part of the Canadian immigration system, and are therefore, an option well worth considering.


Please note that this is general information only and not intended as advice on a specific matter. Please feel free to contact Fakhoury Global Immigration directly with questions exclusive to your situation. This news alert may have been prepared using information from Peregrine Immigration Management, which is licensed to Fakhoury Global Immigration.