Archive - Ontario widens its PNP: More people can qualify for fast-track Canadian immigration

Published: 1 March 2009

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What started as Ontario’s Pilot Provincial Nominee Program in May 2007 has now come into its own as the full-fledged Opportunities Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (OOPNP). The OOPNP will now be welcoming a greater number of newcomers from a larger array of skilled occupations. The expansion of the program is great news for soon-to-be Canadian immigrants, many of whom plan to live in Ontario, as it offers a quicker and more efficient route to Canadian permanent residence.

As a popular immigration province, it is about time that Ontario spruce up its Provincial Nominee Program. Though its Pilot PNP has been helpful in building the provincial workforce in certain targeted sectors (health care, education, manufacturing, and construction), its list of eligible occupations and the cap of 500 nominees annually did not give it much room grow or to react to a changing labour market.

Two significant changes are the fact that Ontario employers can now seek approval to hire skilled foreign workers in any managerial, professional, or skilled occupation (listed as NOC A, B, or 0); and that the provincial government is aiming to welcome 1,000 nominees in 2009, doubling its annual targets.

“Now, more than ever, it’s critical that Ontario’s employers have the resources they need to compete at home and abroad,” said Ontario Citizenship and Immigration Minister Michael Chan. “This program allows them to strengthen their competitive position and helps our province seize opportunities for jobs and growth.”

The Opportunities Ontario Provincial Nominee Program has been re-classified into two categories: General for employers and investors who wish to recruit and hire foreign skilled workers and International Student for those employers looking to recruit foreign graduates of Canadian universities and colleges.

The Ontario PNP is employer-driven, which means that candidates cannot apply unless they have received a permanent full-time job offer from an approved Ontario employer. Before they can extend a job offer to a foreign worker, Ontario employers must seek pre-approval by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

To qualify for nomination as a foreign skilled worker in the General Category, applicants must have an approved permanent full-time job offer in a skilled occupation (A, B, or 0). They need to be qualified for the position and have at least two years of work experience. To apply for Provincial Nomination, candidates need to have received an Employer Pre-Screen Approved Position Form, along with the nominee application package from the Ontario employer who has extended them the job offer. The offered wage must meet the prevailing wage level for the intended occupation. If the applicants are currently residing in Canada, they need to have valid legal status.

Potential nominees under the International Student Category must have graduated within the past two years (or will soon be graduating) from an eligible publicly funded Canadian university or college. Previously, their offer of full-time permanent employment had to be in their field of study. Now, this restriction has been removed so that the job offer can be in any skilled occupation (A, B, or 0). International student candidates do not need to have any previous work experience to qualify, unlike the federal Canadian Experience Class category. To apply, they too need to have received the Employer Pre-Screen Approved Position Form and application package. The offered wage for the position must meet the entry-level standard for that occupation. If still residing in Canada, applicants need to have valid legal status.

Under the General Category, Ontario employers also have the option to invest in the province. These employers will bring over key foreign employees to be nominated for Canadian Permanent Residency, by making an investment of $3 million to establish or expand operations in Ontario. The investment must create at least 5 new jobs for Ontario residents as well. These requirements have been revised down from the original OOPNP requirements of $10 million and 25 new jobs created.

Through various agreements and initiatives, the Government of Ontario has been working hard to welcome newcomers and to help them settle. The new Opportunities Ontario PNP will allow the province to further facilitate successful immigration and settlement.