Each province in Canada has its own small immigration program and can nominate a limited number of new immigrants each year.
Provincial Nominee Programs
While Canada’s immigration program is primarily run by the federal government’s Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, each of Canada’s ten provinces have their own small immigration program. Through these programs the provinces nominate for permanent residence those individuals who wish to immigrate to their province and meet the specific criteria of the provincial program. These programs vary from province to province but are primarily directed at bringing in foreign skilled workers where there is a shortage of such workers in the province. Each province typically nominates several thousand new permanent residents each year, many of whom are already living in their province and are either working or studying temporarily there. We are based in Toronto, Ontario, and we specialize in assisting those who are interested in immigrating to the Province of Ontario. A brief description of the Ontario program is as follows.
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)
The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) is an immigration program run by the Province of Ontario. It is mainly intended to facilitate applications for permanent residence for foreign nationals who are already in Ontario with legal temporary resident status, either as workers or students. However, it can also be used to facilitate permanent residence for temporary residents in other parts of Canada, including visitors to Canada, and also foreign nationals residing outside Canada.
Foreign Worker or Student with a Job Offer
Ontario businesses may give job offers to foreigners that they wish to employ at their companies and assist them to immigrate to Canada on this basis. Before an Ontario business can assist any foreign worker to apply for permanent residence, they must first meet the criteria to be approved to make a job offer to a foreign worker. To be eligible to do so, the Ontario employer and the position offered must meet the following requirements:
Ontario Company Criteria
- The employer must have been in active business for at least three years,
- Must meet all labour laws,
- If in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), must have a minimum of $1,000,000 in gross annual revenue for the most recent year, and have at least 5 employees who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
- Employers outside the GTA must have gross revenues of at least $500,000 for the most recent year, and at least 3 employees who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.
Job Offer Criteria
- The job must be a permanent, full-time position,
- The position must be in a skilled occupation (NOC 0, A or B)
- Payment must meet the prevailing wage for the occupation,
- The hiring of the foreign worker must not affect any labour dispute,
- The position must have been advertised for a month to show that there are no Canadians available to take the position,
- The position must be necessary to the company’s operations and consistent with the business activities of the company.
To apply for permanent residence as a Foreign Worker, the applicant who is being given a job offer by the Ontario company must have the following:
- Job offer in a skilled occupation from a pre-approved company operating in Ontario,
- Legal temporary status, if in Canada,
- At least 2 years of work experience in the intended occupation, or a license in a regulated occupation.
The application process is two-part, requiring the employer and employee to obtain approval by the OINP, after which Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will process the application for permanent residence, including conducting medical examinations and background checks.
An Ontario business can also nominate an international student who is studying in Canada or has studied in Canada. Like the foreign worker category, the pre-approved Ontario company extends a job offer to the foreign student who may then apply for permanent residence on this basis. To qualify, the foreign student must meet the following criteria:
- At least half of the student’s studies must have been completed at a publicly-funded Canadian college or university; and
- The student has completed at least a two-year diploma or degree while studying full time; or
- The student has completed at least a one-year post-graduate degree or certificate which first requires obtaining a previous degree;
- The student has an offer of permanent, full-time employment in a skilled occupation (Note: the position does not have to be related to the field of study)
- Apply within two years of graduating.
Those applying for permanent residence through the foreign worker or foreign student with a job offer categories may be eligible to apply for an open work permit to enable them to be working while their application for permanent residence processes.
Ph.D. and Master’s Graduates in Ontario
Foreign students who have completed a Ph.D. or Master’s degree in Ontario can apply directly for permanent residence. To qualify, the graduate:
- Must have graduated within the past two years, or be about to graduate, from an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario,
- Have legal temporary status in Canada.
The specific criteria to qualify depend on whether the graduate is a Ph.D. student or a Master’s student.
- Must have completed at least two years of their Ph.D. studies in Ontario,
- Must intend to live and work in Ontario,
- May apply under the program both from within Canada or from overseas,
- If residing in Canada must have legal temporary status.
- Must have completed a program of at least one academic year, while studying full time,
- Currently reside in Ontario,
- Demonstrate high official language proficiency,
- Demonstrate a minimum level of income or savings,
- Demonstrate at least one year of residence in Ontario in the past two years.
The Ph.D. and Master’s programs are not always open to accept new applications, and those interested in applying under these categories will need to wait until the Ontario government is open to accepting new applications.
Human Capital Priorities Stream
For those who are enrolled in the Express Entry system, the Ontario government will sometimes issue nominations through the Ontario Human Capital Priorities Stream, or through other streams such as the Ontario French Speaking Skilled Workers Stream, or the Ontario Skilled Trades Stream. These invitations will be based on the specific criteria of the Ontario government, which are variable. Those selected will receive an invitation to apply through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program and will be given a deadline to file their application. Once an application under the Ontario program has been approved, an additional 600 points will be added to the applicant’s Express Entry profile, which should ensure that they are invited to apply for permanent residence at the next Express Entry draw.
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