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About Canada's Provincial Nominee Programs

The Canadian government made an agreement with local provinces in which they can nominate immigrants who wish to live, settle, and work in that particular province or essentially, immigrate to Canada. In order to receive a visa through the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), the candidate is required to choose a province they seek to live in and subsequently apply for nomination.

The province will then consider the application based on its immigration and labour needs, while also assessing your genuine intention to settle in the province.

For most provinces, Canadian immigration is an important part of not only boosting local economies and development in key sectors but also supporting an aging population

The Following Provinces and Territories Have Provincial Nominations:

British Columbia
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Northwest Territories
Prince Edward Island

Note that the province of Quebec has its own unique immigration selection system and a points system that is also different from other provinces.

What is a Provincial Nominee Program?

map of Canada on charcoal background with red maple leaf | Provincial Nominee Program PNP

Provincial Nominee Programs (“PNPs”) that allow accelerated immigration processing according to provincial needs have been set up in most provinces in Canada. There are basically two types of PNP programs. 

The first type is the skilled worker PNP. This program will allow expedited processing for skilled workers that have a job offer from a local provincial business in an occupation or business sector that meets local provincial needs. 

The second type of program is a business immigration program. Most business immigration PNPs allow expedited immigration processing if the applicant does some variation of one of the following in the province: 

  • establishes a new business; 
  • invests money, or 
  • enters a joint venture with a local business.

In Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applications, the first step is for the application to be approved by the province. In most cases, this first step is completed quickly. The provincial processing time can range from two weeks to nine months depending on the province. PNP approval is commonly called being “nominated” by the PNP. 

After the PNP approval, the second step is federal approval consisting of police, medical and security checks are still required. This generally takes 6-8 months at most but can be longer depending on individual cases. After PNP nomination has occurred the PNP can assist the nominee to obtain a work visa on an expedited basis, before immigrating to Canada.

How Does the Provincial Nominee Program Work?

two happy African American people typing on laptop | Provincial Nominee Program Canada

When applying for permanent residence  through a PNP under the Canadian immigration system, there are two main options you can choose:

  • Apply directly to a province or territory; or
  • The Express Entry-linked process 

Direct Application Process

Applying for a provincial nomination directly to your chosen province means that you will have to submit a paper application via mail or courier. This is generally a long process and could take anywhere from 15 to 19 months to find out whether or not your application has been successful.

Express Entry Application Process

Taking the Express Entry-linked route has two pathways:

  • Expression of Interest - when you create your Express Entry profile you can express interest in a particular province or territory. This allows a province to select your profile directly from the Express Entry draw pool and send you a PN, provided you have the skills and experience that they are looking for; or
  • Apply through a Provincial Nominee Express Entry Stream - Almost every province in Canada has an Express Entry stream along with a list of in-demand occupations. 

The benefits here faster processing, averaging at about six to eight months, as well as having a higher chance of receiving an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence.

Find out where your job is in-demand in each of Canada's provinces and territories here.

PNPs and Express Entry

Since its introduction in early 2015, most provinces and territories have streams that are aligned with the Federal Express Entry system. Through the Express Entry system, these “enhanced” nominations award nominees with up to 600 additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points.

It is important to understand that a provincial nomination is the single most important factor in the CRS

The CRS gives applicants a score out of a possible 1,200 that is assigned to an Express Entry candidate, which also in effect decides which candidates should get an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residency. 

Most PNP streams have a lower CRS cut-off score than regular Express Entry draws. For example, Alberta's minimum CRS score is 300 which means that simply having a nomination would almost certainly guarantee that you will receive an  (ITA) at the following pool draw.

It is important to note, that in order to take the Express Entry immigration pathway to Canada under an enhanced PNP stream, you will first be required to create an Express Entry profile.


Provincial Nominee Program Infographic | PNP