Posted on - Jun 28, 2016

by Victor Ing

Victor Ing

Canada welcomes tens of thousands of workers every year to become permanent residents under it’s Economic immigration program. These programs focus on attracting the best and the brightest from around the world to bring their skills and experience to Canada. Often, many of these workers already have job offers in Canada in managerial, professional or technical positions. However, there is currently no federal pathway to permanent residence for low or semi-skilled workers other than the Caregiver class. Under Canada’s immigration program, low and semi-skilled workers do not qualify to apply for permanent residence under Canada’s Express Entry System, leaving it to Canada’s provinces and territories to attract and retain these overlooked but important workers.

In British Columbia, the Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP) offers two immigration pathways for low and semi-skilled workers to address the regional labour and economic needs of the province. Interested employers and applicants make a joint application to the BCPNP to nominate these workers for Canadian permanent residence through the program’s Skills Immigration Registration System (“SIRS”).

The first immigration pathway is the Entry Level and Semi-skilled category for applicants who are already legally working in Canada for at least 9 months in select jobs in the tourism and hospitality, long-haul trucking and food processing industries. These occupations reflect the economic needs of British Columbia and include hotel front desk clerks, bartenders, janitors and long-haul truck drivers.

Secondly, the BCPNP also operates the Northeast Pilot Project (“NEPP”) as a pathway to permanent residence for low and semi-skilled workers employed for at least 9 months in the Northeast region of British Columbia, which encompasses the Northern Rockies and the Peace River Regional District (specifically, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Hudson’s Hope, Pouce Coupe, Taylor and Tumbler Ridge). This program is rare among provincial nominee programs. Whereas other provincial nominee programs generally focus on strategic initiatives to attract workers in industries considered essential in a particular province or territory, the NEPP directly encourages immigration to support economic growth in smaller communities in Northeastern British Columbia where there is a need for permanent workers.

Originally introduced in April 2012 as a two-year pilot project, the NEPP was later extended to March 31, 2016 and has since become a fixture in the BCPNP portfolio of immigration programs. The statistics published by the BCPNP, however, suggest that the NEPP is underused or not widely known to the general public as an immigration pathway to permanent residence for foreign workers. Since the introduction of the SIRS system earlier this Spring, the BCPNP has only granted four invitations to apply on April 8, 2016 to applicants under the NEPP category.

There may be many applicants who would be interested in both the Entry Level and Semi-skilled and NEPP categories. For instance, we are often approached by international students in Canada interested in obtaining Canadian permanent residence after graduation; however, they are unsure of the right path because Canada’s immigration programs generally prioritize applicants with higher skilled work experience, labour market impact assessment based work permits, and high salaries, none of which students straight out of college or university are likely to have. For these applicants, the Entry level and Semi-skilled and NEPP categories may provide alternative paths to immigration for those who may be willing to relocate for employment opportunities and those willing to obtain training in the high-demand sectors in British Columbia’s tourism and hospitality, long-haul trucking and food processing industries. Foreign workers in British Columbia should become better educated about these alternative immigration options, in addition to the traditional skilled immigration pathways offered by Canada’s federal economic programs.


Victor Ing is a Vancouver immigration lawyer at Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre in Vancouver, BC Canada, and provides a full range of immigration services.

To learn more about immigrating to Canada, becoming a permanent Canadian resident or bringing your family to Canada, email Victor Ing or call him at 1-604-689-5444.

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