APRIL 26, 2017
Canada’s provinces have carved out an increasingly important role in the country’s economic immigration selection system, known as Express Entry. As a result, more candidates are noting that staying up to date on the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) can be a decisive step towards achieving their Canadian immigration goals.
Candidates with a provincial nomination are awarded 600 additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points and placed at the front of the line for selection in a subsequent draw from the pool, essentially meaning that it is a golden ticket to Canada. It should be noted, however, that although a provincial nomination is clearly helpful, it is not required in order for a candidate to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence. Indeed, most invited candidates over 2015 and 2016 received their ITA without obtaining a nomination.
The latest data on Express Entry-aligned PNP streams came with the release this week of an in-depth report from by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), covering 2016. IRCC had previously issued similar reports covering 2015, which was the first year of the system’s operation.
In 2015, around 13 percent of candidates who were issued an ITA had obtained a provincial nomination certificate through an Express Entry-aligned (‘enhanced’) PNP stream. However, through 2016 this share doubled to 26 percent of all invited candidates.
The graph below shows the trend line (in orange) of provincial nominees who were issued an ITA over the first two years (or 50 draws) of Express Entry. While the percentage of invited candidates with a provincial nomination changes from draw to draw (represented by the blue line), it is clear that the PNPs have become a more important factor over time.
Not only did the share of candidates invited with a provincial nomination double year-on-year, but nearly half of the nominations uploaded to candidates’ Express Entry profiles in 2016 were uploaded in the final quarter of the year. This can be seen from the number of candidates who were invited with a provincial nomination over that period.
How does it work?
Some PNP streams are active, in the sense that an eligible Express Entry candidate may submit an application, or an Expression of Interest, without first being invited to do so by the province in question. On the other hand, passive PNP streams (notably Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities stream) only allow candidates in the pool to apply upon being contacted by the province.
It is also important to note that different provinces operate their PNP streams in other different ways. For example, some require a job offer, while some do not, and some are first-come, first-served, while others are based on an Expression of Interest/Invitation to Apply model.
For many candidates, PNPs have proven to be the route to Canada. This is especially apparent for candidates who were invited to apply for permanent residence, despite having core CRS scores (i.e. without the additional points for a provincial nomination, a job offer, or education obtained in Canada above high school) below the minimum score drawn. the score the case among candidates with a core CRS score below CRS cut-off thresholds in previous draws may benefit from a provincial nomination, as it brings them enough additional points to obtain an ITA.
The graph below, courtesy of IRCC, shows candidates in the Express Entry Pool as of January 3, 2017 and ITAs issued in 2016 by core CRS score.
As is clear, there were many candidates who had core CRS scores below the minimum score drawn, but who nonetheless obtained an ITA.
Provinces active in Express Entry
Over the course of 2016, a total of 8,798 individual candidates in the pool were invited to apply having obtained a provincial nomination.
Throughout the year, a total of 13,292 candidates who had obtained a nomination, as well as their family members, actually landed in Canada as permanent residents. It is likely that many of these newcomers obtained their nomination in 2015, before landing in 2016.
In 2015, a total of 4,960 newcomers (applicants and family members) landed in Canada having previously obtained an enhanced provincial nomination certificate.
The destination provinces of landed immigrants who had obtained an enhanced provincial nomination is represented in the table below. While the destination province and the province that issued the nomination may not match in every single case, nominees by and large will have landed in the province that issued them their nomination, given that they made a commitment to do so when applying. Therefore, this data is a fair indication as to which provinces were most active in Express Entry through 2015 and 2016.
2017 PNP activity
Similar data for the year so far is not yet available, but there has been plenty of activity on the PNP front over recent months.
For example, Ontario has reopened its popular Human Capital Priorities stream, Nova Scotia announced just this week that its Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry stream will soon reopen, Saskatchewan continues to have intake periods for its Express Entry-aligned International Skilled Worker sub-category, and BC has conducted no fewer than seven draws so far in 2017, each of which has included a number of Express Entry candidates being invited to immigrate to the province.
The table below shows the range of such streams that are, or at one stage have been, operational.
“This trend shows little sign of abating, and so it is apparent that candidates in the Express Entry pool would be well served by staying up to date on these programs — they could be the pathway to permanent residence.