Permanent Residence – Provincial Nominees

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories. All of Canada’s provinces as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories have their own immigration programs. Click here for links to all of these programs. These programs are based on agreements between the federal government and the province. In general, the province adopts its own standards for attracting immigrants, which are different from the federal immigrant programs. For instance, the province may accept immigrants with certain job skills that are needed in that province. Once an immigrant is accepted by the province, the province issues a certificate of nomination. The person then applies for an immigrant visa from the federal government. The federal government conducts the standard security and medical checks. The person and his or her family members are then issued immigrant visas. The person is then expected to take up residence in the province that issued the certificate of nomination.

As of January 1, 2015, a portion of the Provincial Nominee applications now goes through the Express Entry system. Persons nominated under one of the provincial Express Entry streams will receive an automatic 600 points under the Express Entry system. This guarantees an Invitation to Apply under the Express Entry system, along with very rapid processing times of six months or less. For more information, see our web page on Express Entry.

The provinces will continue to process separate provincial nominee “streams” outside of the Express Entry system. These streams will often provide opportunities to people who do not qualify under the federal system. For instance, the provincial programs may accept lesser skilled occupations, or may accept lower language test results.

Through our office in Nova Scotia, we have assisted many workers and their families who wish to apply through the Nova Scotia nominee program. There are currently seven “streams,” including two Express Entry streams: one for skilled workers, and one for persons with work experience in Nova Scotia. As of January 1, 2016, Nova Scotia opened up two new programs for persons who intend to purchase or start up new businesses in Nova Scotia. Applicants in all streams must intend to settle in Nova Scotia. In addition, Canada has just launched a new Atlantic Immigration Pilot. This program awards work permits and permanent residence to persons with job offers in the four Atlantic provinces. These provinces include Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.

The province of Quebec maintains its own immigration system for skilled workers and investors. All persons intending to live in the province of Quebec must go through the Quebec system. The other provinces have systems that are not exclusive. A person can choose to apply through the provincial system or through the federal system.

The purpose of each provincial nominee program is to attract immigrants to live permanently in the sponsoring province. All the programs provide incentives for this to happen such as settlement services. However, under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, an immigrant cannot be legally compelled to live in a particular province after landing.