Each of the provinces and territories with PNPs can nominate for permanent residency people who enhance the local economy and fill labour and skills shortages
Posted on - Dec 18, 2018

By Victor Ing

Victor Ing

Immigration levels will continue to rise in Canada over the next three years – Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is expected to welcome as many as 350,000 new permanent residents per year by 2021. Most of these permanent residents will qualify as “economic” immigrants based on having a combination of valuable skills and work experience, and about 71,300 of them will be admitted under Provincial Nominee programs (PNPs). PNPs now represent one of the fastest growing pathways to immigrate to Canada but many people, as we have learned as Vancouver immigration lawyers, are not familiar with how they work. In this article we introduce you to the immigration streams available under British Columbia’s PNP program (BCPNP).

PNPs allow provinces and territories to select and nominate prospective applicants for permanent residence who intend to settle there and have the job skills and/or experience they value based on regional needs. Each of the provinces and territories that have PNPs have created unique immigration streams to attract candidates that will enhance the local economy and fill labour and skills shortages. Successful applicants to PNPs will be issued Nomination Certificates which allow them to apply for Canadian working permits and permanent residence.

Below is a summary of the BC PNP immigration streams and how they are unique compared to other well-known economic immigration streams such as Canada’s Canadian Experience Class (CEC) or the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Class.

International Graduate Stream

The International Graduate stream is designed for international students who have graduated in the past three years from public Canadian universities or colleges or private degree granting universities or colleges. To apply under this stream, the successful candidate must have completed full-time coursework in a program lasting at least eight months.

What’s unique: New graduates frequently do not have as much or any work experience performing skilled work compared to other candidates who want to immigrate to Canada. This stream allows new graduates with BC job offers in skilled occupations to qualify for permanent residence even without prior work experience.

International Post-Graduate Stream

The International Post-Graduate stream is designed to attract international graduate students who have completed graduate studies in a prescribed field of study. Not all graduate students are eligible for this stream. The successful candidate must have graduated in the past three years with a master’s or doctorate degree in the natural, applied or health sciences fields from a university in BC.

What’s unique: Unlike other PNP streams, applicants under the International Post-Graduate stream do not require a job offer from a BC employer or work experience to qualify for permanent residence.

Entry-Level and Semi-Skilled and Northeast Development Region (ELSS Stream)

The ELSS stream was designed to create a pathway to permanent residence for candidates working in key BC sectors facing labour shortages. Applicants will qualify under this stream if they work in specified occupations in the tourism/hospitality, long-haul trucking or food processing industries and have worked for their employer for at least nine months, or if they work in entry level or semi-skilled occupations in the Northeast Development Region of BC. Examples of eligible occupations include hotel clerks and cleaners and restaurant servers and bartenders.

What’s unique: Most of Canada’s immigration programs for permanent residence require the successful candidate to have skilled work experience from either Canada or overseas. The ELSS stream creates a pathway for permanent residence for entry-level or semi-skilled workers.

Skilled Worker Stream

The Skilled Worker stream is designed to help workers qualify for Canadian permanent residence if they have a job offer from a BC employer in a skilled occupation and at least two years of directly related work experience in the occupation offered to them.

What’s unique: Many of Canada’s immigration programs require or favour applicants with skilled work experience obtained in Canada. The BC PNP Skilled Worker stream will consider foreign skilled work experience, including paid co-op work experience abroad, as meeting the minimum experience requirements for a Nomination Certificate. This makes it easier for candidates who have never worked in Canada, or have worked for less than one year in Canada and would therefore not meet the minimum criteria for the CEC, to qualify for permanent residence if they have an offer of indefinite employment from a BC employer.

Healthcare Professional

The Healthcare Professional stream recognizes that health care workers, including doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists are in demand in BC. Health care professionals with at least two years of directly related work experience in the occupation offered will be eligible to apply under this stream.

What’s unique: With very few exceptions there is generally no preference shown nor any specific pathway available for prospective immigrants who work in specific occupations. However, due to the well documented shortage of health care professionals in British Columbia, the BC PNP offers a direct pathway to apply for a Nomination Certificate to obtain permanent residence in BC to perform health services.

In summary, the BC PNP offers unique pathways to permanent residence that may be suitable for many prospective immigrants who may not be aware that these streams exist. BC’s PNP program welcomes international graduates, healthcare professionals, skilled workers and even entry-level or semi-skilled workers who want to make British Columbia their home. The PNP program continues to be an ever increasing aspect of Canada’s economic immigration strategy and prospective immigrants should familiarize themselves with the various streams available in BC


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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