Explained: Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) 2021

What are your plans for Canada? The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an excellent immigration pathway to look into if you’re planning to move, work or study in Canada. The PNP is made up of over 80 unique immigration streams that target international students, business people, skilled and semi-skilled workers who wish to permanently settle in the country. 

Are you an Express Entry candidate? The PNP can be particularly useful if you need additional points to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency.

Interested to learn more about the fastest-growing Canadian immigration program? Discover how obtaining a nomination certificate can help you secure a future in Canada.

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What is a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)?

The Provincial Nominee Program is a major economic immigration class that is made up of more than 80 immigration streams and managed by 11 provinces and territories of Canada. The Canadian government plans to welcome 250,000 newcomers between 2021 and 2023 through the PNP alone.

11 Provincial Nominee Programs and Application Fees in 2021

There are 11 PNPs that nominate foreign nationals for permanent residence in Canada. You need to apply for a nomination certificate from the province or territory in which you want to settle for at least a few months after you obtain PR status in Canada. Some PNPs are more popular than others due to factors like job opportunities, amenities, and better weather conditions.

Discover the 11 PNPs and their application fees below. Please note that these fees do not include the $1,325 federal application fee.

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How Does a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Work?

A PNP is an umbrella term that encompasses different immigration streams with specific requirements based on the labour market needs of a province or territory in Canada. If you apply for a PNP in Canada and your application is successful then you will be issued with a provincial nomination certificate.

A nomination is basically the equivalent of a recommendation that you use to apply for permanent residency from the Federal Government of Canada.

Good to know: A nomination is worth 600 CRS points in the Express Entry system.

What is a stream?

A stream is an immigration program that targets certain groups and requirements. For example, certain streams may admit skilled French workers from overseas or specific trade workers. There are over 80 immigration streams between the 11 participating provincial governments. Not sure for which stream you qualify for? Start by checking in which province your skills are in demand in 2021.

Example: Take a look at the Ontario Provincial Nomination Program (OINP) and the associated streams below:

Ontario Provincial Nomination Program (OINP)
Streams Criteria
Employer Job Category
International Student Stream
In-Demand Skills Stream
Foreign Worker Stream
You must have a valid, full-time, permanent job offer from an employer in Ontario.
Human Capital Category
Express Entry Human Capital Priorities Stream;
Express Entry French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream
Express Entry Skilled Trades Stream
Masters Graduates Stream
Ph.D. Graduates Stream.
For the most part, you must have an Express Entry profile and meet both the federal and provincial requirements which can include having in-demand job skills.
Business Category
Entrepreneur Stream
To purchase or start a new business in Ontario.

How to Apply for a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

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The application process for PNPs differs depending on the stream you qualify for. All PNPs offer Express Entry linked-streams and non-Express Entry streams that don’t require applicants to have an active profile in the Express Entry pool. Instead, applicants are required to apply directly to the province. The Express Entry system is a points-based immigration system that fast-tracks the application process for skilled foreign workers within six months.

It’s easier to apply for an Express Entry linked stream simply because the entire process is conveniently done online.

Express Entry Process

Step 1: Create an Express Entry Profile

The easiest way to apply for a nomination through an Express Entry-linked stream is to create an Express Entry profile online. This means that not only must you meet the requirements for the stream but you must also meet the requirements for one of three Express Entry programs:

Express Entry Programs

Step 2: Send an Expression of Interest

From your Express Entry profile you can send an Expression of Interest (EOI) to the province you’re interested in. If the province responds by sending a “notification of interest” to your account then you can contact them directly to apply to their Express Entry stream.

Good to know: You could alternatively apply for Express Entry-linked streams by creating your provincial profile first and only after receiving a Notification of Interest, create an Express Entry profile.

Step 3: Receive a Nomination

Once you have been nominated you will receive the nomination certificate through your Express Entry profile. This also means that you automatically receive 600 CRS points and basically guarantees an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency in the next Express Entry draw.

Step 4: Submit an Online Application for Permanent Residency

As soon as you receive the invitation, you have a span of 60 days to submit a complete and accurate application along with all the supporting documents. The average processing time for Express Entry applications is six months.

Provincial Process

Step 1: Create a Profile

The first step is to create a profile in the appropriate system for your stream. Each provincial government has its own system. For example, when applying to Ontario you’ll use the OINP e-Filing Portal and when applying to New Brunswick you’ll use the INB System.

Step 2: Receive an Invitation to Apply

Top candidates will receive an invitation to apply for a nomination. The majority of candidates are chosen based on a scoring system.

Step 3: Apply for a Nomination

If you received an invitation to apply you may apply to be nominated by the province. During this step, you will be required to submit supporting documents such as your language test results and job offer letter.

Step 4: Submit a Paper-Based Application for Permanent Residency

Once you have been nominated, you must submit a paper application for permanent residence to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The average processing time for PNP applications is 18 months.

Express Entry vs Provincial Nomination Program

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The Express Entry System and the Provincial Nomination Program are the two biggest economic immigration pathways in Canada. But how do they differ and which path is right for you?

The Express Entry system is federally managed and designed to attract skilled workers to Canada. Due to its popularity and faster application processing, it is a more competitive pathway to obtaining a permanent resident visa. The Provincial Nomination Program, on the other hand, is managed by the individual provincial governments to attract skilled and intermediate skilled workers based on the economic needs of the specific region. More often than not, PNP streams require that candidates have ties to the province to qualify for a nomination in the form of work experience, a job offer, or education.

Major Differences
Express Entry Provincial Nomination Programs
2021-2023 target: 332,750 new immigrants 2021-2023 target: 245,300 new immigrants
6-months application processing (after receiving an ITA) 18-months application processing (after receiving a nomination)
Strictly online-based applications Online based and paper-based applications
Three major immigration programs Over 80 streams including Express Entry linked-streams
Available to skilled foreign workers
NOC A: Professionals
NOC 0: Managerial experience
NOC B: Technical and trade workers
Available to skilled and intermediate skilled foreign workers
NOC 0: Managerial experience
NOC B: Technical and trade workers
NOC C: Intermediate skilled workers like butchers and truck drivers
NOC D: Labourers like cleaning staff and farm laborers
You can reside anywhere in Canada but only if you did not receive a nomination. You must reside in the province that nominated you.

FAQs About Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program

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1. What are the easiest PNPs in 2021?

1. Saskatchewan’s International Skilled Worker Stream

The prairie province is looking for foreign workers with experience in one of its in-demand occupations. The reason it's easier to achieve a nomination through this stream is that you don't need local work experience or a valid job offer from an employer in the province to qualify.


Saskatchewan Occupation In-Demand Category Eligibility Requirements
Express Entry ProfileNo
Connection to ProvinceNo
Job OfferNo
Language Proficiency CLB 4 or higher
Level of Education1 year of post-secondary education that’s equivalent to a Canadian diploma, certificate, or degree.
AgeNo
Work Experience12 months in NOC 0, A, or B (cannot be in an occupation listed on the SINP Excluded Occupation List)
Income/Settlement FundsYes
Average Processing Time18 months

2. Alberta Express Entry Stream

Alberta is a popular destination amongst newcomers with top-ranked cities like Edmonton and Calgary. The Alberta Express Entry Stream has the lowest CRS score of 300 points. This means that if you are nominated by Alberta you will most definitely receive an ITA since a nomination is equal to 600 additional points!


Alberta Express Entry Stream Eligibility Requirements
Express Entry ProfileYes (Minimum Comprehensive Ranking System score of 300)
Connection to ProvinceNo
Job OfferNo
Language ProficiencyExpress Entry Requirements (CLB 7 for FSWP and CEC; CLB4 for FSTP)
Level of EducationExpress Entry Requirements (tertiary qualification, high school and/or job-specific training or on-the-job-training)
Work ExperienceExpress Entry Requirements (1 year for FSWP and CEC; 2 years for FSTP)
AgeExpress Entry Requirements
Income/Settlement FundsYes
Average Processing Time6 months

3. Ontario Human Capital Priorities Category

Ontario is home to the most immigrants in the country with 139,071 immigrants arriving between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020. If you’re interested in settling in Ontario then Ontario’s Human Capital Priorities Streams are great options! This major category includes streams for skilled candidates with Express Entry profiles, tech workers ineligible occupations, French-speaking foreign nationals, and graduates. The reason for its popularity is because no job offer is required for any of these streams!

2. How long does Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program take?

Once you’ve submitted your final application to the IRCC then the average processing time for PNP applications is 18 months as stated on the government of Canada’s website. However, if you applied through an Express Entry linked stream then your application should be processed within four to six months.

3. Which Provincial Nominee Programs are open now?

The majority of PNPs are open and accepting applications during COVID-19. However, some PNPs may only process applications of candidates already residing in the province. The following PNPs are temporarily closed or paused for improvements and updates:

PNPs: Temporarily Closed/Paused

  • New Brunswick Entrepreneurial Stream
  • Northwest Territories Business Stream
  • New Brunswick Skilled Worker With Family Support
  • Ontario In-Demand Skills
  • Ontario Masters Graduates
  • Ontario Ph.D. Graduates
  • Ontario Entrepreneur

4. Can I Immigrate to Canada as a business owner through a PNP?

Yes, you can! In fact, each PNP has a business or entrepreneur stream designed for business savvy foreign nationals who have what it takes to buy a business in a specific province or start a new business. The requirements including the minimum investment amount differ from province to province.

Learn more about each business stream here.

5. What documents do you need for the Provincial Nominee Program?

During the PNP application process, you will submit two types of applications. The first will be submitted to the province when you apply for a nomination. The second application will be submitted to the IRCC. The supporting documents you need to submit to the provincial government may vary from the documents you need to submit to the federal government of Canada. For example, if your PNP stream calls for a job offer then you will be required to submit a job offer letter to the province.

Due to the fact that there over 80 streams it’s hard to pinpoint each document for your PNP application but the federal requirements are straightforward and we list them below:

Federal Requirements
Document Details
English or French language test results There are designated tests for immigration purposes, including IELTS, CELPIP, TEF Canada, and TCF Canada.
A valid passport/travel document Your passport must be valid during the immigration application process and during your stay in Canada if it's temporary.
Police certification Proof that you do not have a criminal record.
Proof of funds You must have the required settlement funds for immigration purposes.
Proof that your foreign qualifications and work experience are equal to Canadian standards You need to get an assessment report.

Apply for a Provincial Nomination With Help

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Interested in Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program? As one of the biggest immigration programs with the second-highest annual immigrant intake, you surely can’t go wrong with this one! The trick is to find the perfect stream that suits your profile and goals. Still unsure of how to go about the process? Eliminate the guesswork when you apply with Canadian Visa.

We specialize in helping our international clients reach their dreams of settling in their favorite provinces in Canada, and we can help you too. Ready to get started? Click on the link below to fill in an online comprehensive evaluation and we’ll determine your best pathway to Canada.