Best immigration program of the year? BC PNP hits a home run with healthcare workers - Immigration Lawyer Vancouver, Canada | Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre

BlogBest immigration program of the year? BC PNP hits a home run with healthcare workers

14 December 2022

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As we approach the holidays it is customary to pause and reflect on this past year’s milestones and challenges. 2022 was another busy year highlighted by numerous and significant immigration policy changes and, frankly, bad headlines for the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. You do not have to reach far into your memory banks to recall that the CBC published several articles in the summer reporting that there was a backlog of more than 2 million immigration applications. Just this week, the CBC published a scathing report that tens of thousands of immigration applications have been assigned to inactive immigration officer accounts for processing. Despite these negative headlines, however, there have also been many examples of positive immigration changes and today I will review what I think is one of this year’s most underrated immigration success stories.

The BC Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) arguably made its biggest contribution to immigration headlines earlier this year in March 2022 when it announced a new policy initiative to attract immigrants with skills and experience in the healthcare sector to the province.  Although the BC PNP has historically offered a pathway to attract healthcare professionals, it was extremely limited in scope because it only applied to physicians, nurses and allied health professionals who have job offers from public health authorities like the Fraser Health Authority and Vancouver Coastal Health. In reality, this “Health Professional” category (now aptly re-branded as the “Health Authority” category), excluded many essential workers in BC’s health care economy, most notably those who work in the private sector such as in senior long-term care and assisted living homes.

Recognizing that there is a crucial shortage of healthcare workers in BC who offer essential services to the province and its citizens, the BC PNP introduced sweeping changes to its system, including the following:

  • The BC PNP expanded its Health Authority category by eliminating all restrictions as to occupations. If you have a job offer in any occupation from a public health authority, you can apply to the BC PNP for a nomination for permanent residence.
  • Healthcare assistants, including nurse aides and orderlies, who were previously classified as unskilled workers under Canada’s National Occupational Classification (NOC) system, became eligible to apply for a BC provincial nomination.

Furthermore, as of November 16, 2022 healthcare assistants are now classified as skilled workers under the newly implemented NOC 2021 system and will have access to both the BC PNP skilled worker stream and Canada’s federal immigration programs, namely the Canadian Experience Class and Federal Skilled Worker Class.

-Finally, and most importantly, the BC PNP began to hold targeted draws for workers with job offers in a wide range of healthcare occupations. No longer prioritizing only physicians, nurses, and the nebulous category of “allied health professionals”, the BC PNP now publishes a list of nearly 40 priority health occupations, including social workers and counselling therapists, leaving no doubt for the public as to who will qualify to receive targeted draws as healthcare workers.

By offering targeted draws, the BC PNP directly increased the number of healthcare workers who will qualify to immigrate to the province by lowering the overall points requirements needed to receive an invitation to apply. This places healthcare workers on an even or even stronger footing than other skilled workers who may have previously been more competitive than them due to differences in language proficiency, education level, or wages.

Ultimately, the BC PNP’s decision to prioritize workers in health occupations, rather than prioritizing only workers with job offers from public health authorities, has significantly expanded the pool of potential permanent residency candidates who wish to settle in BC to include those working in the private sector.

Since March 10, 2022, the BC PNP has followed through on its plans to regularly hold targeted draws. Multiple targeted draws for healthcare workers are held every month and invitations to apply are being issued to candidates with as low as 60 points. This represents a significant opportunity for healthcare workers to immigrate to BC, whether they are already here in Canada working under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program or open work permits, and whether they are healthcare workers living abroad.

With the frenetic pace of immigration changes that take place every year it is easy to overlook or forget some of the positive immigration news stories that have made headlines. In my experience as an immigration lawyer, it is uncommon to see an immigration policy implemented as harmoniously and effectively as the BC PNP has achieved with its March 2022 directive to prioritize healthcare workers. The current statistics show that about 400 candidates have received BC PNP invitations to apply under targeted draws for healthcare workers and there will be plenty of opportunities for prospective immigrants to BC to apply as healthcare workers in 2023. Now is the time for healthcare workers to assess their eligibility for a BC provincial nomination under the BC PNP’s expanded criteria!

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