Canadian provinces and territories have made adjustments to their immigration programs so that new immigrants can still become permanent residents during the pandemic.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) have been operating throughout the coronavirus outbreak, and there’s no sign of stopping in 2021 either. These programs serve an important purpose to regional economies. They were designed to fill gaps in the labour market with foreign workers who want to move to Canada.
PNPs still held immigration draws and issued provincial nominations even amid service closures and travel restrictions in 2020. The federal government supported the provincial programs by holding Express Entry draws where only PNP recipients were invited to apply for permanent residence. Furthermore, Canada is planning to bring in more than 80,000 new immigrants per year through the PNPs according to the new Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-2023.
In order to operate during the pandemic, provincial immigration departments had to make temporary adjustments to their normal procedures. Here is a comprehensive list of the coronavirus measures in place for each PNP:
The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) is still holding weekly immigration draws, however, they are now excluding occupations in hard-hit sectors such as tourism, hospitality, retail and personal services. Some of these occupations include chefs, massage therapists, and travel counsellors among others. The full list of these 31 excluded occupations is available on the BC PNP’s August 31 news release.
The province makes decisions on which occupations to include in draws based on labour market needs. They will reintroduce these excluded occupations, once they determine that there is an economic need for them.
More information is available on B.C.’s COVID-19 page.
The federal government is not processing Labour Market Impact Assessments (LMIA), for all but 27 occupations in Alberta. Some of these occupations that will be processed include computer engineers, physicians, and graphic designers, among others. LMIAs will also be processed if they were approved under the Global Talent Stream.
It is still possible to apply for immigration under the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) even if the candidate’s occupation is on the refusal to process list. Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) holders who submitted an application to the Alberta Opportunity Stream on or after November 1, are eligible to apply even if they are not working in an exempt occupation. Alberta Express Entry stream candidates can apply for a provincial nomination regardless of their occupation.
More information is available on Alberta’s COVID-19 page.
The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) is now allowing nominees to request a six-month extension to apply for permanent residency to the federal government.
Those applying for an SINP immigration stream may get a conditional nomination if the terms of the employment offer from their original application changed due to the coronavirus outbreak. This may happen if the applicant no longer meets the minimum criteria of the SINP category through which they received their nomination. The conditions will need to be met in order for the nominee to get permanent residence.
More information is available on Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 page.
Prospective immigrants applying for a nomination from the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) will be able to use non-consecutive work experience toward eligibility. In other words, candidates who lost their job and started working again do not have to work for six more consecutive months in order to be eligible to submit an Expression of Interest.
The MPNP will also accept incomplete occupations, as long as they include an explanation letter. Manitoba will still need all documents in order to assess the application. Documents like paystubs, records of employment, and letters from an employer can support an application where the candidate has been laid off, or if their hours have been reduced.
More information is available on Manitoba’s COVID-19 page.
Ontario is another province that will allow candidates to send in incomplete applications, as long as they submit a letter explaining why the application is incomplete. The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) will consider all relevant information when reviewing the application, and may allow candidates to have additional time to send in the required documents.
Despite the pandemic, in 2020 Ontario nominated 8,050 immigration candidates for permanent residence, surpassing its allocation for the year by more than 400 nominations.
Later this year, Ontario is expected to launch an Expression of Interest system for the Employer Job Offer Category. If they follow through with this plan, it will abolish the rushed-seating model that is currently in place.
More details on Ontario’s COVID-19 response is available on the province’s news and updates page for 2020.
Nova Scotia focused on attracting health-care professionals during the pandemic, through the Labour Market Priorities Stream, and the Labour Market Priorities for Physicians stream. In July, 2020, Nova Scotia’s population reached an all-time high of 979,351, thanks in part to immigration.
Prince Edward Island focused on ensuring that immigrants who were already in the province remained on their path to permanent residency. Non-residents of the province currently have to apply in advance to travel to the island.
Newfoundland and Labrador is offering a new immigration program for skilled workers. It is specially tailored for graduates of Memorial University, and workers with experience in an in-demand occupation.
The Yukon Nominee Program does not require foreign nationals to meet the standard of full-time work hours. Those who get laid off or reduced work hours will not be given the standard 90-day notice to find new employment.
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