Ontario is the most populous province in Canada, approximately 40 percent of Canadians live there. The province is home to Ottawa, Canada's capital city, as well as Toronto, the country's largest city and primary business and financial centre. Ontario is the economic, social, and political heartland of Canada. It is by far the most popular destination in Canada for new immigrants from around the world. The most multicultural province in Canada, approximately half of the country's new immigrants settle in Ontario. The province includes people from 200 different countries that speak more than 125 languages. The easiest way to immigrate to Ontario is with a provincial nomination under the Canada Express Entry online immigration system.

Express Entry Ontario

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) is designed to give select foreign nationals, interested in Ontario immigration, the opportunity to apply for Canadian permanent residence through an expedited process. Formerly called the Opportunities Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (OOPNP), the program is for prospective immigrants with the specific skills and experience targeted by the province. There are two different ways to go about getting nominated by the OINP. Outside of Express Entry, a potential immigrant can contact Immigration Ontario and apply to the OINP directly. If given a provincial nomination, he or she can then create a Canada Express Entry profile and add their Ontario nomination credentials.

People interested in Ontario immigration can also begin the process by creating an Express Entry profile and registering their interest in the province within the system. The OINP can then contact the person through Express Entry and formally invite them to apply to the immigration program. If an applicant is given an OINP nomination, the certificate can be transferred to them using Express Entry. This will instantaneously increase their score under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) by 600 points. The person will likely then have enough Canada Express Entry CRS points to receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) during the next Express Entry draw, which takes place every few months.

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program

The basic idea behind the OINP is simple, it facilitates the immigration process of qualified non-Canadian nationals and accompanying family members (spouse/common-law partner and children) to the province. Officially called the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program, those accepted by the program are set on a fast track to Canada as a provincial nominee within the Express Entry system.

The OINP is the first of its kind in the province of Ontario. In addition to providing opportunities to qualified immigrants, the program is also designed to contribute to job creation, job retention and economic development. Naturally, this happens in a multitude of different ways depending on the specific nominee and the specific category they fall under. For instance, the Entrepreneur Category is aimed at attracting new financial investment in order to further economic development in the province. The OINP also furthers the Ontario economy by helping provincial employers attract (and retain) qualified employees. This is especially true for industries and jobs with current labor-market needs. Finally, the OINP is designed to support government priorities, through the immigration of qualified professionals in the health care and education sectors in particular. With that being said, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is primarily employer-driven. What this means for you, a prospective nominee, is that you can only apply to the program if your employer is pre-screened. The position also needs to be preapproved and the employer needs to provide a nominee application package from the OINP.

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Streams

There are six categories that those interested in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program can apply under.

OINP Categories:

General Category
International Students Category
Corporate Category
Entrepreneur Category
Human Capital Priorities
French-Speaking Skilled Worker Category

Each OINP category has its own set of requirements determining who can qualify. Furthermore, each category may have one or more sub-categories. These categories are discussed below. Our guidance will help you decide whether the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is right for you.

OINP General Category

The General Category, as its name implies, is by far the broadest immigration category in the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program. It allows Ontarian employers to recruit foreign employees for approved skills positions. These are classified by the Government of Canada as "NOC 0, A, or B Level." Applications are required from both the employer and the foreign national. These applications must show that both parties fully meet all of the eligibility requirements. If all the requirements are met, a nomination of certification may be issued under the General Category of the OINP.

Applicants must meet several requirements in order to be eligible as a foreign worker under the Provincial Nominee Program Ontario General Category.

Applicant Requirements:

Applicants must have two years of work experience in their intended occupation, within the past five years. If applying for a regulated occupation in Ontario, they must have the appropriate registration in the province.
Applicants' work experience only counts if it was paid and verifiable. It can be obtained in Canada or abroad, but volunteer and other unpaid experience does not count. Work experience within Canada will only count if there is proper work authorization.
Applicants must have a permanent, full-time job offer in a skilled occupation (NOC Levels 0, A, or B) from an Ontario employer. Also, the employer must submit an application approved by Opportunities Ontario. It must remain valid till the time the employee's application is approved.
Applicants must have legal status if living in Canada during the application. Refugee claimants and asylum seekers are not eligible for Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.
A "Joint Verification" form, signed by employer, is required. A "Pre-Screen Position" form is also required.

Employers must also meet a wide range of requirements to be eligible under the General Category of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.

Employer Requirements:

The business must be active for at least three years
The business must have a gross revenue of at least $1,000,000 with at least five permanent full-time employees for companies in the Greater Toronto Area. If the company is outside of this area it must have a gross revenue of at least $500,000 with at least three permanent full-time employees
Job must be located inside of the province of Ontario

Finally, the job position itself must meet a number of requirements.

The Job Must:

Be a skilled occupation defined by the government as NOC Level 0, A, or B
Be a permanent, full-time position
Meet prevailing wage levels for the position in Ontario
Not affect the settlement of any labour dispute the company or its employees are involved in
Not adversely affect employment or training opportunities for Canadian citizens and permanent residents
Be a position that is necessary for the operation of the company

International Students Category

The International Students Category of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is designed for international students in study aboard programs. The category is broken down into three primary sub-categories. These include the International Student with a Job Offer Stream, International PhD Graduate Stream, and Pilot International Masters Graduate Stream. This OINP category is extremely popular among recent graduates from the University of Western Ontario (UWO), University of Ottawa, University of Toronto (U of T), Ryerson University, University of Waterloo (U of W), Brock University, McMaster University, Wilfred Laurier University (WLU), University of Guelph, Carleton University, Queen's University, York University, and University of Windsor.

Pilot International Masters Graduate Stream

The OINP International Masters Graduate Stream is only a pilot program. A maximum of only 1,000 applicants will be accepted. Though students applying in this sub-category do not need a job offer, they must meet an extensive list of requirements.

Applicants Must:

Have the intention to live and work in Ontario
Have graduated from an existing Masters program at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario
Have completed one academic year on a full-time basis
Have submitted their application no later than two years from the date of completion of their Master's degree. It can be submitted during applicants' last semester of study in the program
Currently be residing in Ontario with legal status. Refugee claimants and asylum seekers are not eligible
Have high proficiency in English or French
Have a minimum level of savings or income. It must be enough to support themselves and any of their dependents
Have resided in Ontario for at least one full year during the past two years
Not have plans for further studies in Ontario as a main activity. However, further study is allowed as it relates to regulated occupations in the province.

International PhD Students Stream

Like the International Masters Students Stream, those students applying for the International PhD Students Stream do not need a job offer. There are several requirements that must be met for this sub-category of the OINP.

Applicants Must:

Have graduated from an existing PhD program, successfully completed all of the degree requirements for such a program (and are awaiting their degree) or have at least completed two years of PhD studies at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario
Have submitted their application no later than two years from the date PhD was received
Have legal status if living in Canada

International Student With a Job Offer Stream

Under the OINP, there are several requirements for international students with an approved job offer from a Canadian employer.

Applicants Must:

Have completed at least half of their studies in Canada. They must have already graduated or be graduating soon from a publicly funded college or university in Canada
Have completed a two-year degree or diploma program (or longer) on a full-time basis. Or, they must have completed a one-year post-graduate degree or certificate program (or longer). The second option requires a previous degree or diploma that may be earned from Canada or abroad
Have acquired a permanent, full-time job offer in a skilled occupation (NOC Levels 0, A, or B). The employer must also submit an application to Opportunities Ontario. The offer must be approved and remain valid at the time the students' applications are approved. (The job offer does not need to be in the same field as the students' degree or diploma)
Have submitted their application no later than two years after the date that the students received their Canadian degrees or diplomas. It can be submitted as early as the last semester of the students' studies.
Have legal status if living in Canada. A "Joint Verification" and "Pre-Screen Position" form are also required from their employers.

Ontario Corporate Stream

The OINP Corporate Stream was introduced in the fall of 2015 to help establish and support international corporations interested in expanding into Ontario either by opening or buying a business in the province. Through the OINP Corporate Stream, important employees of the foreign corporation can be nominated for Canadian permanent resident status once the business has been successfully set up in the province. In order to participate in the OINP Corporate Category, several requirements must be satisfied.

Eligibility:

The corporation must invest $5 million or more in the new or existing Ontario business
Five permanent, full-time jobs must be created for Canadian citizens or Canadian permanent residents for each OINP nomination made under this category
Employees seeking an OINP nomination via this stream must be employed by the corporation and be key to the operation of the company in Ontario
Nominated staff members have 24 months to demonstrate a minimum English language requirement in accordance with nomination criteria
The international business must be well established with a proven track record over the past 36 months or longer

Before being nominated by Ontario for Canadian permanent residency status, key employees of the corporation can obtain two-year Temporary Work Permits from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Such a permit allows them to build the business in Ontario while not yet being permanent residents. The OINP will work with the corporation to establish a Performance Agreement that outlines performance commitments and time-frames for the Ontarian enterprise. Successful provincial nominations for key staff members will be conditional on meeting these commitments. A maximum of 5 people can be nominated under this OINP stream for each Ontario business purchased or created by a foreign corporation.

Ontario Entrepreneur Stream

In fall 2015, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program investor component was closed and the OINP Entrepreneur category was officially introduced. The Ontario PNP Entrepreneur stream is designed to help foreigners buy a business in the province or create a brand new Ontario company. Once the business has been established, entrepreneurs can then be nominated by Immigration Ontario for Canadian permanent residency under the OINP Entrepreneur stream. In order to qualify for the Ontario Nominee Program Entrepreneur stream, a list of requirements must be met.

Eligibility:

Each prospective nominee must make a $500,000 minimum investment in the Province of Ontario. If the business is located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) the investment criteria increases to a minimum investment of $1,000,000, unless the business is in the digital media or information and communications technology (ICT) sectors. If the entrepreneur has a business partner who would also like to qualify under this OINP stream, he or she must also make the required minimum investment of either $500,000 or $1,000,000. Please note: all monetary amounts are in Canadian dollars (CAD) not US dollars (USD)
Each prospective nominee must have an $800,000 minimum net worth. If the business is located in the Greater Toronto Area this minimum net worth requirement increases to $1,500,000 unless the business is in the Digital Media or ICT industry
Buying or starting the Ontarian business must create two permanent, full-time employment positions for Canadian permanent residents or citizens
The entrepreneur along with his or her business partner (if applicable) will have 24 months to satisfy minimum program requirements in order to receive a Canadian permanent residency nomination from the province of Ontario
The entrepreneur must have a minimum of 3 years of senior management or business ownership experience in the past 5 years

When opening a new business in Ontario, or buying an existing business, the entrepreneur must own and control at least a 33.3% equity share in the endeavor in order to qualify under this OINP. As part of the application process, the viability of the business plan will be assessed by officials of Immigration Ontario. A performance agreement, outlining key investment and job creation commitments that need to be met within 2 years, will also be required in order for the OINP to proceed with a provincial nomination. Please note: the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program considers businesses to be located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) if they are in the City of Toronto or in the Durham, Halton, Peel, or York regions.

Human Capital Priorities Stream

The OINP Human Capital Priorities Stream is a new category that allows the province to select potential immigrants from the Express Entry pool that have the necessary skilled work experience, language ability, characteristics and education to bring value to the Ontario labour market. The OINP will search through Express Entry profiles that have indicated an interest in Ontario immigration with a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score of at least 400 points. These profiles, that the meet the criteria of the stream, will then receive a Notication of Interest. People who receive a Provincial or Territorial Notification of Interest (PT NOI) from the Province of Ontario through their MyCIC account will have 45 days to apply to the OINP stream. To be eligible under the OINP Human Capital Priorities Stream, an applicant must satisfy all the criteria listed below.

Applicant Requirements:

Education - All candidates must have a Bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D. degree from Canada, or an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) report indicating that their foreign education is the equivalent of those previously mentioned
Language Proficiency - All candidates must read, write, listen, and speak in either English or French at a language level of Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 7, as proven by a standardised language test recognized by the Government of Ontario
Work Experience - All candidates are required to have a minimum of 12 months of continuous full-time employment in a National Occupation Classification (NOC) level 0, A, or B occupation in the five years prior to the date of receiving the Ontarian Notication of Interest. An equal amount of part-time paid work experience (1560 hours) will also satisfy this requirement. Applicants who wish to be assessed against the Canada Experience Class criteria are required to have at least 12 months of cumulative full-time employment (or the equivalent number of hours of part-time experience) within the past three years instead of five.
Express Entry score - All applicants must have a Canada Express Entry Comprehensive Ranking System score of 400 points or greater, throughout provincial and federal processing
Intention to Live in Ontario - All candidates interested Ontario immigration must intend to reside in the province
Funds for Settlement - All OINP candidates must have a sufficient amount of unencumbered funds that can be used to cover moving to the province and getting settled. These funds must be demonstrated by bank statements.

French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream

The OINP French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream is aligned with Canada's Express Entry selection system and enables prospective immigrants that speak French to move to Ontario. People that register for Express Entry and indicate an interest in Ontario immigration may be eligible for the OINP French-Speaking Skilled Worker Stream if they satisfy all the criteria below.

Applicant Requirements:

Education - Candidates must possess a Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, or Ph.D. degree from a Canadian institution, or the same from a foreign school along with an Educational Credential Assessment (ECA) indicating that the education is equivalent to a Canadian degree
French Language Ability - Applicants must have a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level of 7 or higher in French, and 6 or higher in English, which must be demonstrated by the Government of Canada and Ontario approved standardized language test
Work Experience - Candidates applying through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) must have at least 1 year of paid work experience in an NOC level 0, A, or B occupation in the past 60 months. Candidates applying through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) must have a minimum of one year of full-time employment in an NOC 0, A, or B level occupation in the past 36 months
Ontario immigration intention - All immigrants applying through this OINP stream must intend to reside in the province and should demonstrate this intention through a statement of intent and proof of ties to Ontario
Settlement Money - Applicants should have enough money to adequately settle in the province. These funds should be supported by bank statements

Potential immigrants who receive a PT NOI from the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program in their MyCIC account will be given 45 days to apply to the OINP. If nominated by the OINP, the candidate will then have 30 days to accept the Ontario nomination from within Express Entry, which is worth 600 CRS points.

Investors Category (Closed)

In fall 2015 the Ontario investor program was officially closed and two new OINP categories were introduced - the Ontario entrepreneur program, and the Ontario business program for corporations. Ontario investor immigration applications received by October 29, 2015, will be processed normally, but no new investor category applications will be accepted by the OINP after this date. Consequently, people interested in business immigration to Ontario should consider the new OINP entrepreneur stream, which is detailed above.

The final category of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is the Investors Category. This category is designed to give companies that make an investment in Ontario the ability to recruit and retain important employees. The program allows these important employees to immigrate to Canada, ensuring the company's investment in the process. All applicants to this category must be integral to the functioning of the company in question.

Simply put, investments must be of significant importance to Ontario to qualify under the Investors Category. They must also create new jobs for Ontarians. Furthermore, new investments and expansions to current operations are also eligible. The investments must meet all of the requirements listed below to be eligible for the program.

Investment Requirements:

Must receive official endorsement from another Ontario ministry at the Deputy Minister level
Amount of investment must be at least $3,000,000
Must create at least five net permanent full-time jobs for Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Ontario
Must comply with Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations

Employees applying to the program also need to satisfy a list of requirements

Employees Must:

Be actively involved in the management of the business
Control at least 33.3% of the business's equity. Or make a minimum of a $1 million investment in the business
Not have the option of redeeming their investment after a certain period
Invest capital in the business. However, the investment cannot be for the primary purpose of deriving interest, dividends, or capital gains