Canada has specific immigration programs designed to enable individuals with different skills, education, and work experience to settle in Canada and contribute to the Canadian economy. For those intending to move to Canada as a permanent resident (PR), the permanent residence programs managed through the Express Entry system are the most popular options, but not the only ones. There are other options such as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), Family sponsorship, Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP), the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP), the Caregiver program, and the Start-up Visa program.
In this article, we will be focusing on the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) to help you understand how the various processes work, and the steps to be followed to apply for permanent residency through a PNP.
|Looking to move to a specific province in Canada? See our province-wise articles for more detailed information on immigration streams and eligibility criteria:
How do Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) work?
According to Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are primarily aimed at individuals who:
- Have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of a specific province or territory,
- Intend to settle permanently in that province or territory, and
- Want to become permanent residents of Canada.
Each province and territory has its own Provincial Nominee Program streams (immigration programs that target certain groups such as new graduates, business people, skilled workers in specific professions, or semi-skilled workers), and unique requirements.
Understanding PNP application options
There are two ways to apply for PR through the PNPs:
- Paper-based process (involves submitting a physical application and supporting documents)
- Express Entry (online application)
The mode of application will depend on the PNP stream under which you apply.
How to apply for PNP: Paper-based process
The paper-based process involves two stages:
|Stage 1: Receiving a nomination certificate from the province or territory you intend on settling in permanently.
Stage 2: Applying to IRCC for PR status after the province or territory nominates you.
Here’s a step-by-step approach on how to apply for permanent residency as a Provincial Nominee, through the paper-based process.
Stage 1 includes steps 1 to 4, while steps 5 and 6 are part of stage 2.
Step 1: Identify where you want to live in Canada
Canada has ten provinces and three territories. To apply for PR status as a Provincial Nominee, it is important to decide where you want to settle – more specifically, in which province or territory. You might want to take into consideration factors such as the cost of living, employment opportunities, and the type of lifestyle you want to adopt.
Step 2: Check the PNP eligibility criteria
To be nominated by a province or territory, you must follow the instructions on their website and contact them directly.
To check the eligibility criteria, here are the PNP websites for each province/territory:
Nunavut is currently only accepting applications for entrepreneurs wanting to start their business in the territory.
Applicants intending to settle permanently in the Province of Quebec should contact the province directly for instructions on how to apply for PR status – they should not use the below guidance.
Step 3: Apply to the Canadian province or territory where you intend to live
Each province has various PNPs designed to fill their specific labour market needs. Applicants should review the PNP streams for their province of interest carefully, as each will have unique eligibility criteria, and application intake processes. In general, applicants can either:
- Apply to the province directly for a provincial nomination, OR
- Be invited to apply to the province for a provincial nomination.
While applying to a specific province/territory through the paper-based process, you must select a non-Express Entry stream AND meet the eligibility requirements of the chosen stream for the province/territory.
Many provinces have very specific deadlines for application submissions. Applicants may wish to begin gathering necessary documents before they are invited, so they can ensure everything will be available within the deadline imposed by the province.
Step 4: Wait for the provincial nomination
After submitting an application, if you meet the program’s eligibility criteria including demonstrating an intention to settle in that province, you will receive a provincial nomination certificate. You may refer to specific provincial or territorial PNP websites for processing timelines.
Step 5: Apply for Permanent Residence (PR)
Once you’ve been nominated by a province or territory, you can submit your application for Permanent Residence to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. The application package for Provincial Nominees includes the instruction guide, document checklist, and all the forms you need.
Tip: Be honest, accurate, and truthful while completing your application. If you are found to have misrepresented any information in your application, it may lead to a refusal of your application, and you could be found inadmissible to Canada and barred for up to five years.
The next step in the application process is to pay the fees. As of April 30, 2022, these fees have increased to $1,350 CAD per adult applicant and $230 per dependent child. This amount includes:
- Processing fees for you and anyone you include on your application.
- The Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF) – $515 CAD which must be paid by all adult applicants on the application; you can opt to hold on to it and pay at the next step.
Although the application is paper-based, you must pay the fees online and print out a copy of your payment receipt to be included in the application.
For biometrics: You must also pay a biometrics fee of $85 per adult applicant, to a maximum of $170 per family. You must include proof of having paid these fees in your application. After your application is received, you will receive a confirmation letter with instructions on how to submit your biometric data. Biometrics (fingerprints and photo) are required to be given in-person at various collection centres worldwide. You will have 30 days from the date of the letter to complete this process. You must book an appointment at a collection point close to you and show the confirmation letter when you give your biometrics.
Third-party fees: Depending on your situation, you may need to pay third parties for medical exams, police certificates, language testing, and educational credential assessment (ECA). The instruction guide for your application will help you understand which fees apply to you.
After completing the application package and gathering all the supporting documents, you have to mail your application along with the online payment receipt to the address in the instruction guide. Remember, do not send the application to your local visa office; it must be sent to the Centralized Intake Office in Canada, after which it may be transferred to your local visa office abroad.
Tip: To avoid rejections, before you send your application, ensure you answer all questions, sign your application and all forms, and include the correct processing fee, and supporting documents. You must also include a copy of the valid nomination certificate that the province or territory sent you. If your nomination has expired, you should contact the issuing province or territory.
Step 6: Receive the Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR) and arrive in Canada
The processing time for each application depends on which visa office is processing it. After submitting your application, at any time, you can check the application processing times and status of your application online. As of April 2020, the average processing time for paper-based applications is 15 to 19 months.
While your application is being processed, you will be informed when to submit medical exams and police certificates if they were not provided with your initial application, or have expired since submitting.
Medical exams: You and all dependent family members (even if they are not moving to Canada with you) will be required to complete a medical examination from a designated panel physician.
Police certificates: You may need a police certificate from any country or territory in which you have spent six months in a row or more since the age of 18. In some countries, it can take a long time to get a police certificate. Therefore, you may want to get them early.
If you meet program and admissibility criteria, IRCC will reach out to request the documents required to finalize the application, including your passport (or passport copies) and photos. You’ll also need to pay your Right of Permanent Residence fee, if you haven’t already. At this stage, you must update IRCC on any significant changes to your circumstances, such as family status or new medical concerns.
If no changes are reported, IRCC will finalize your application and issue you a:
- Confirmation of permanent residence (COPR) document
- Permanent resident visa (if you are from a country where you need a visa)
- Letter with important information about your COPR and other requirements
Tip: Keep your COPR document in a safe and secure place. Do not alter your COPR in any way, and do not sign the document until your arrival in Canada as a permanent resident.
Arrival in Canada
Once your application has been approved, you must travel to Canada to complete the Permanent Resident landing process – this is the final stage in processing, and once complete, your permanent residence status will be granted!
During the landing process, upon your arrival to Canada you must present your COPR, and your PR visa (if you need one). You will also need to show your passport, and you may be asked for proof of funds to support yourself and your family.
The officer will ask you a few questions to make sure you still meet the terms to immigrate to Canada. They will be similar to the ones you answered when you applied. Once satisfied that you remain admissible to Canada, the officer will allow you to enter Canada as a PR. The officer will also confirm your Canadian mailing address, and your PR card will be mailed to you at this address.
Note: You don’t have to apply separately for a PR card, if you provide a Canadian mailing address. The application for a PR card is submitted by the officer at the time of completing your landing formalities.
If you are already in Canada, you can make an appointment at an IRCC office near where you live in Canada to complete the landing process and have your permanent resident status granted. You can also leave Canada and return through a Canadian port of entry (an international airport or a Canadian land border) to complete the landing process.
How to apply for Provincial Nominee Programs: Express Entry process
There are two ways to apply for PNP through the Express Entry process:
|Option 1: You contact the province
You contact the province or territory and apply for a nomination under their Express Entry stream. If the province or territory agrees to nominate you, you can then proceed to create an Express Entry profile (or update your profile if you already have one) and show you have been nominated.Option 2: Province contacts you
You create an Express Entry profile first and indicate the provinces and territories you are interested in while creating the profile. If a province or territory sends a notification of interest to your account, you can contact them directly and apply through their Express Entry stream. Tip: In both cases, you will need to create an Express Entry profile during the process, so you should do it right from the start.
Here’s a step-by-step approach on how to apply for PNP through the Express Entry process. Each step outlines the approach for option 1 and 2.
Tip: In our blog, Express Entry: Moving to Canada as a PR, we’ve outlined a step-by-step approach to creating and submitting an Express Entry profile. We encourage you to read it and follow the instructions mentioned.
Step 1: Get provincial nomination
For option 1: If you are already in the Express Entry pool, and you wish to be considered for the PNP, certain streams allow you to apply to the province/territory directly through the Express Entry stream.
For option 2: If a province/territory contacts you with a notification of interest for PNP and you want to be nominated by that province or territory, you must contact them directly and apply to their PNP Express Entry stream. (This process will happen between you and the province or territory – you will not use your IRCC account).
Note: The notification of interest is not a provincial nomination and does not guarantee you will be nominated.
The next steps for both options are similar to Step 2 and 3 of the paper-based process as outlined above, with the only exception of specifically choosing the Express Entry immigration stream while applying on the provincial/territorial PNP websites.
Once the province/territory agrees to nominate you,
- You must update your profile with the nomination and share your Express Entry profile number and Job Seeker Validation Code with the province/territory; OR
- Wait for the province or territory to confirm your nomination with IRCC and accept or reject the nomination in your IRCC Express Entry account within 30 calendar days.
Step 2: Apply for Permanent Residence in Canada
Once you receive your nomination, there are two things to consider –
- If you accept the nomination
- The Express Entry system will generate a letter in your account that confirms your nomination.
- You will be awarded 600 additional points in your Express Entry profile, which will help you get invited to apply.
Note: 600 points is the maximum number of points you can be awarded under the ‘additional’ factors. If you were previously awarded points for having a job offer and/or study in Canada, these points will not be listed in your CRS score. However, as they may be relevant to your ability to meet the criteria of the Express Entry program, you should provide proof of this in your Express Entry application.
Upon receiving the invitation to apply, you will have 60 days to submit your online application for PR. Average processing times for Express Entry applications are generally 6 months – you can check the status of your application in your Express Entry account.
- If you reject the nomination
- Your profile will remain in the Express Entry pool, and you may be invited to apply under any other program.
- You won’t be eligible for the PNP unless another province nominates you.
What should you do if the province or territory withdraws your nomination?
Before you receive the invitation to apply for PR:
After you receive the invitation to apply for PR:
Note: In either of these cases, if you do not follow the directions above, you could be found inadmissible. This means you could be banned from applying to come to Canada for any reason for five years.
Step 3: Receive the Confirmation of Permanent Residence and arrive in Canada
Refer to Step 6 of the paper-based process.
Preparing to settle in Canada
Once you receive your COPR and PR visa (if required), there are things you can do to prepare for life in Canada.
- Use free pre-arrival services, which help you find out more about living and working in Canada.
- Take steps to get recognition in Canada for your education, work experience, and professional licences/certificates.
- Read about living and finding work in Canada.
- Learn about the networking culture in Canada, work on your resume, and start building your personal brand.
- Find immigrant services which will help you settle and adapt to life.
- Read the Welcome to Canada guide to help you adjust.
- Use the Living in Canada tool to find the right services.
|You can use the following Arrive resources to prepare for your job search, even before you arrive in Canada.
Arrive supports newcomers step of the way.
What can you bring to Canada
Before you travel to Canada, see the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website to find out what you can and cannot bring into the country.
You must tell the border officer if you arrive in Canada with more than $10,000 CAD. If you do not disclose this, you may be fined and your funds will be seized.
The PNP process may seem daunting as there are many steps involved. However, if you follow the instructions provided by the Government and consult with authorized immigration representatives, you will be able to successfully realize your dream of moving to Canada!
Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
Green and Spiegel Immigration Law Firm
The information provided in this article is general, is subject to frequent changes and does not constitute legal advice. For specific immigration legal advice that you can rely on, please contact Green and Spiegel.