The introduction of the Federal Express Entry program in Canada earlier this year has significantly changed the immigration programs of the various Canadian provinces. Many of these provinces – British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan – have already announced that they will be aligning a part of their Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) with the Express Entry. This means that aside from the PNP, applicants can also apply to immigrate to a specific province via the Express Entry.

Canada and Its Provinces

Canada is divided into three territories and 10 provinces, and each area has its own PNP, which operates in conjunction with the government – except for the territory of Nunavut and the province of Quebec, which have their own immigration program outside of the jurisdiction of the federal government.

As for the rest of the provinces, they work with the government in selecting individuals for immigration. The provinces will nominate individuals who applied to their specific PNP, and the government will take care of the medical and security checks needed before they issue a visa to the applicant. The role of the provinces is to select the applicants who meet their specific labour market needs.

Express Entry and PNP Hand in Hand

The introduction of the federal Express Entry program will see a division in the current PNP of the provinces that will be joining the program. The provincial nomination will be divided into ‘enhanced’ and ‘base’ nominations.

‘Enhanced’ nominations are those that occur via the Express Entry. Applicants can join the Express Entry pool if they express intent to immigrate to a specific province and they meet the criteria in the program.

They can then apply to the PNP of their selected province in order to get a nomination, which will then result in them getting an automatic 600 points in their Express Entry application (out of the total 1200 points available), giving them an edge over other applicants in the pool.

Those who will score high in their human capital will most likely receive an invitation. It is important to note, however, that applicants can apply to the PNP first before applying to Express Entry – it doesn’t matter where he applies first.

For now, the main qualification to apply for Express Entry is for the applicants to qualify for any of the three federal immigration programs in Canada – Federal Skilled Worker Program, Federal Skilled Trades Program or Canada Experience Class. Provinces may add their own specific qualifications for PNP.

‘Base’ nominations, on the other hand, are nominations done under the regular PNP of each province without the applicants joining the Express Entry. In case an individual is not qualified for Express Entry but is qualified for the province’s nomination program, he can apply directly without going through Express Entry.

Under this program, applicants should apply to the province for nomination. Once they qualify, the province will issue a certificate of nomination to them, and they will then apply to the federal government for permanent residence status.

Immigration to Quebec

As mentioned earlier, the province of Quebec has its own separate immigration system from the rest of Canada. It has its own Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP), which screens applicants based on a points system. The criteria include age, education, work experience, and language proficiency, among others. The program has not yet opened for this year; it is expected to open in April 2015. It has been announced that there will be changes in the points distribution in QSWP’s ‘Area of Training List’, favoring those with background in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Accounting, Banking and Financial Operations, and Translation.