Since 2022, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) has been among Canada’s leading immigration pathways. The success of the program is projected to continue, as outlined in Canada’s Immigration Levels Plan for 2023-2025.
The PNP allows every province or territory – except Quebec and Nunavut – to nominate international workers for permanent residence. Those selected for immigration to a particular province or territory are chosen based on the applicant’s ability to help address local labor shortages and support economic development by leveraging their education, skills, and work experience.
Applying to the PNP outside of Express Entry
There are two ways to apply for PNP. One is the non-Express Entry application process known as a base provincial nomination. This process involves applicants deciding where they want to live in Canada and applying for a nomination directly with that province or territory. Applicants who receive a nomination from the province or territory can then apply for permanent residence in that region through Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Applying to the PNP via Express Entry
The other option is to apply for PNP via Express Entry. Candidates must be eligible for at least one of the three programs managed under the Express Entry system.
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
Although minimum entry criteria differ for each of these programs, once a candidate is eligible and creates an Express Entry profile, they will be considered for an invitation to apply based on their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score.
Some factors that influence a CRS score cannot be changed. For instance, age, which a candidate obviously cannot change, is factored into a CRS score. However, a candidate can influence some areas that are factored into a CRS score, such as education. To provide details about their international education, a candidate can obtain an educational credential assessment (ECA).
An ECA is a document that IRCC reviews to understand how internationally earned educational credentials, such as degrees and diplomas, compare to Canadian standards. An ECA makes a substantial difference in a candidate’s chances of attaining permanent residence via Express Entry because it can add points to a candidate’s CRS score. An ECA can be acquired from an IRCC-designated provider such as World Education Services (WES).
Note: WES is one of five organizations designated by IRCC to provide ECAs in Canada (excluding physicians and pharmacists).
The value of an ECA for the Provincial Nominee Program
When a candidate creates an Express Entry profile, they will also be able to identify any specific provinces and territories they are interested in moving to. Doing so will indicate to the chosen regional governments that a candidate has an interest in obtaining permanent residence in that province or territory.
Provinces and territories operating a PNP will occasionally review Express Entry profiles and offer nominations for potential immigration to that region.
In both cases, an ECA from WES will result in a higher CRS score and make an Express Entry candidate more appealing to provinces and territories, thereby increasing their chances of obtaining a PNP nomination.
PNP streams that require an ECA
For some PNP streams, an ECA must be obtained to meet the minimum requirements. For instance, if a candidate’s academic credentials were all earned in another country, the candidate will need to obtain an ECA to meet the required minimum entry criteria for an invitation to apply under the Federal Skilled Worker Program.
Note: This condition applies solely to candidates who are eligible to be assessed for Express Entry through the Federal Skilled Worker Program. If the candidate can also be assessed for Express Entry eligibility through the Canadian Experience Class or Federal Skilled Trades Program, the above condition is null.
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