Express Entry or PNP: What makes “cents”?

B.C. recently raised the price to apply for the Skills Immigration stream, but it is still not the most expensive program in Canada.

It now costs $1,150 to apply for the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Skills Immigration stream, which is up from the $700 that it cost before. B.C. says the fee increase will allow it to better serve the increased number of applicants for its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Currently, there are 9,500 provincial nominees from B.C. waiting to become permanent residents.

Most skilled worker candidates who have received a provincial nomination should expect to pay an application fee between $250 and $2,000. However, there is no application fee to apply for PNPs operated by Alberta, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories or the Yukon.

Entrepreneur applicants in most provinces will generally have to pay higher fees ranging between $1,000 and $3,500.

Immigration is an area of shared federal-provincial jurisdiction under Canada’s Constitution. As such, both levels of government are able to operate programs to select skilled immigrants. The PNP has existed since 1998 to enable provinces and territories to recruit immigrants that meet their labour market needs.

Provincial application or processing fees are determined by each province and territory. They are added on top of the federal immigration fees that successful provincial nominees pay to apply for permanent residence.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Application Fee
Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) $0
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) $1,150
Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) $500
New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP) $250
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) $250
Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) $0
Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP) $0
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) $1,500-2,000
Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP) $300
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) $350
Yukon Nominee Program (YNP) $0

The PNP has grown substantially since the 1990s. Today it is the second most popular pathway to permanent residence for Canadian immigrants. The most popular pathway is through the Express Entry system. 

There are some pros and cons to weigh when choosing the best immigration program to match each individual’s circumstances. On the plus side, PNPs offers pathways to permanent residence for people who are not eligible for Express Entry but who have traits that support regional labour needs. Candidates who are eligible for Express Entry benefit from the system’s fast processing standard.  

Express Entry candidates who receive a provincial nomination are awarded an additional 600 points toward their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score, which guarantees that they will receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. People who are in the Express Entry pool without a provincial nomination have less certainty that they will get an ITA.  

However, there are some disadvantages in applying for a provincial nomination.  Processing times are longer, especially if candidates are not eligible for Express Entry. The website of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) cites a permanent residence processing standard of 19 months for PNP applications compared with six months or less for PNP candidates who received an ITA through Express Entry. The IRCC processing time is on top of the generally one to three months a successful candidate needs to wait for the province or territory to process their PNP application. 

Some immigrants with a higher CRS score instead wait in hopes of obtaining an ITA directly through Express Entry. In addition to a faster processing standard, they can save money on PNP application fees, which they have to pay on top of the federal government’s fees that are required for most economic-class immigration programs. With Express Entry, applicants just pay the federal fees. 

For a single person, the fee is $1,325 to applyCouples can expect to pay $1,325 each plus $225 per dependent child. In addition, there is a biometric fee of $85 for a single person or $170 for a family. 

Ultimately, a candidate’s best bet is to enter the Express Entry pool. It is free to enter the pool and it gives them a greater chance of obtaining an ITA from the federal government, or an invitation from a province or territory to obtain permanent residence through their PNP. In addition to entering the Express Entry pool, a candidate can still apply to a PNP directly in order to improve their permanent residence odds. 

This year, Canada aims to welcome 200,000 economic immigrants through more than 100 economic immigration streams. About 90,000 are expected to arrive through its three federal Express Entry programs and 65,000 through PNPs. 

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

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