PNP Immigration Options in Eastern Canada: The Maritimes, They Are A Changing

In the second of a summer mini-series on Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), we looking at immigration to Eastern Canada, specifically the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Following news earlier this week that the Eastern Canadian provinces have agreed a coordinated immigration strategy with the federal government, scheduled to begin next year, now is a good time to review the set of PNP options currently in place across the region.

The advent of the Express Entry immigration selection system, which was first launched in January, 2015, was an important moment for the PNPs, as it allowed provinces to create ‘enhanced’ immigration streams that are aligned with the federal selection system, while also allowing them to keep their ‘base’ streams outside that system. Canada’s Eastern provinces have taken the opportunity to align portions of their PNPs with Express Entry, in doing so making their programs even more attractive to potential newcomers than was previously the case. This article will review enhanced and base PNP streams across Eastern Canada.

Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP)

Nova Scotia has been something of a leader among the provinces with respect to PNP immigration, as it has successfully lobbied the federal government for a series of allocation increases for the NSNP.

The NSNP was also the first PNP to contain multiple streams aligned with the federal Express Entry system, namely the Nova Scotia Demand and Nova Scotia Experience streams. While Nova Scotia Demand is not accepting new applications at this time, it is entirely possible that the stream will reopen in the future, as it did twice in 2015. The most recent criteria for this stream did not require candidates to have a job offer, but did require them to have experience in one of 29 in-demand occupations, including occupations in finance, engineering, IT, and health care.

The Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry stream — which provides a pathway to permanent residence for skilled applicants who have worked for a Nova Scotia employer for at least one year — remains open at this time.

The NSNP also has an interesting set of ‘base’ immigration options that aim to attract skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and international graduates — all of which are open for new applications. The Skilled Worker stream helps employers recruit foreign workers and recently graduated international students whose skills are needed in Nova Scotia; the Entrepreneur stream is designed to attract individuals who wish to start or acquire a business and settle permanently in Nova Scotia; and the International Graduate Entrepreneur stream is open to recent graduates of Nova Scotia post-secondary institutions who have already started or purchased a business in the province.

New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP)

The NBPNP stream that aligns with the federal Express Entry system is known as the Express Entry Labour Market Stream (EELMS). This stream operates on an ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI) basis. Candidates may complete an EOI form and send it to the NBPNP. Candidates are then assigned a score based on the information provided, after which they are assessed according to the following criteria:

  • Highest score;
  • Evidence of training and experience in a high priority sector as determined by the province;
  • Demonstrated ability to become economically established in the province; and
  • The likelihood of positively contributing to the provincial labour market.

The highest ranked candidates are then invited to apply to the NBPNP. If an applicant is successful in obtaining a provincial nomination certificate from the NBPNP through this stream, he or she will receive 600 additional points under the federal Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) and will be invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence in a subsequent draw from the Express Entry pool.

The recruitment of highly skilled French speakers is a priority for New Brunswick. 

The province encourages people who can demonstrate advanced French language ability through a Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) and have a desire to be part of New Brunswick’s vibrant Francophone community to submit their EOI as soon as possible because they will be given priority.

As for base immigration options through the NBPNP, New Brunswick accepts applications under its Skilled Worker with Family Support stream from individuals who have worked in New Brunswick and have close family ties to the province. There is also the Skilled Worker with Employer Support stream, which accepts applications from individuals who have received a full-time, permanent job offer from a New Brunswick employer. This stream has a points assessment grid, and potential applicants must obtain at least 50 points in order to be eligible to make an application.

Finally, New Brunswick accepts applications under its Business Applicants stream from individuals who plan to own and actively manage a business in New Brunswick. Applicants are expected to make a monetary investment in the business. 

Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP)

Last year, PEI issued more issued more enhanced provincial nomination certificates, relative to its own population, than any other province. In doing so, Canada’s smallest province is showing that it is viable immigration destination for Express Entry candidates. PEI’s Express Entry stream arguably involves the simplest first step of all the provinces’ Express Entry streams, as candidates are only asked to complete a single page online form outlining their reasons for wishing to immigrate to PEI. In order to submit this form successfully, candidates must have already created an Express Entry profile. The PEI PNP then invites a selection of these candidates to apply on a priority basis.

PEI’s base Labour Impact Category contains separate streams for skilled workers, critical workers, and international graduates. PEI employers that have identified or hired a skilled foreign worker may, through the Skilled Worker Stream, support their worker in an application for Canadian permanent residence.

The Critical Worker stream currently supports applications made by applicants in five occupations: truck drivers, customer service representatives, labourers, food & beverage servers, and housekeeping attendants.

The employer-driven International Graduate stream allows PEI employers to hire recent graduates from recognized accredited PEI universities and colleges.

Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP)

Newfoundland and Labrador was relatively late on the scene with respect to aligning its NLPNP with the Express Entry system, but has now successfully issued a number of enhanced provincial nomination certificates. Candidates for the NLPNP Express Entry stream must have a job offer and reach a points threshold on an assessment grid.

With respect to its base stream, the NLPNP has separate streams for skilled workers and international graduates.

The NLPNP Skilled Worker stream accepts applications from individuals who have received a guaranteed job offer from a Newfoundland and Labrador employer. The International Graduate stream targets international students who have graduated from a recognized post-secondary educational institution in Canada (note: the applicant does not necessarily have to have graduated from an institution in Newfoundland).