Exploring Paths to Permanent Residence: The BC PNP – Skilled Worker Stream
From simplifying the purchase of a residential property to facilitating the election as director of a corporation, achieving permanent resident status in Canada has many advantages. In the last decade, we have seen a major shift in the way this coveted status is granted. We moved away from a first-come-first-served system in which applications were processed in the order they had been received by the Government to an invitation-based system in which only the strongest candidates are allowed to apply.
The Express Entry system has been the cornerstone of this change. Its logic is simple: all candidates are given a score ranging from 0 to 1200 points and the Government invites those who have the highest scores to apply for permanent residence. Prior to COVID-19, the score required to be invited was around 470 points. Since July 2022, it has only been below 490 points twice. Although this may not seem like such a big difference, the higher score required can be detrimental for many candidates. This may be particularly true for those in their 40s and older or who do not have Canadian work experience.
As the score required to receive an invitation under Express Entry remains high, it may be worthwhile to explore alternative paths toward achieving permanent resident status. By way of example, for those seeking to settle in the Canadian province of British Columbia, one such path could be the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) – Skilled Worker Stream. Assessing one’s eligibility for this program is a four-step process.
The first step is to find an eligible employer. The main requirements that a potential employer must meet are the following:
- It must have operated in British Columbia for at least one year.
- It must have a physical presence in British Columbia where employees can physically report to work on a regular basis.
- It must have at least five permanent, full-time employees in British Columbia (the number is reduced to three if the employer is located outside the Metro Vancouver Regional District).
- It must make genuine efforts to recruit locally (this requirement can be partially waived for senior executives, highly specialized senior managers or professionals and work permit holders).
- The candidate and their family must not have held or exercised control over a company ownership/equity stake of 10 % or greater in the five years preceding the application.
The second step is to receive an eligible job offer from an eligible employer. The main requirements that a job offer must meet are the following:
- It must be in a skilled occupation (professional, management, technical, or trade).
- It must be for full-time employment (defined as at least 30 hours of work per week).
- It must not have a pre-defined end date to the employment (except for some occupations).
- The offered wage must be at market rate for the occupation, considering the level of education, training, and experience of the candidate as well as the wage structure of the employer.
The third step is to make sure that the candidates meet the applicant’s eligibility requirements. The main requirements that a candidate must meet are the following:
- They must have at least two years of full-time work experience in any skilled occupation in the last ten years (within Canada or abroad).
- They must be qualified for the job that has been offered to them.
- There is no minimum English or French language proficiency requirement for professionals or managers. This is a major difference with Express Entry where those candidates must demonstrate English or French language proficiency at Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 7 in each of the four competencies (listening, speaking, reading, and writing). For technical and trade occupations, you must demonstrate English or French language proficiency at CLB level 4 in each of the four competencies. This requirement remains lower than under Express Entry where candidates working in those occupations must often demonstrate English or French language proficiency at CLB level 5.
The fourth step is to receive an invitation to apply. The BC PNP – Skilled Worker Stream has also moved from a first-come-first-served system to an invitation-based system. Like under Express Entry, all candidates are given a score and the Government invites those who have the highest scores to apply. However, key differences in the ranking systems allow for the possibility that candidates with low chances of invitation under Express Entry may have better chances under the BC PNP. Here are the major differences and how they might benefit certain candidates:
- The maximum possible score under the BC PNP is 200 points whereas it is 1200 points under Express Entry.
- Candidates with no or limited Canadian work experience but substantial work experience abroad have proportionally more points under the BC PNP than under Express Entry. Their chances of invitation may therefore be higher under the former than under the later. Under the BC PNP, 10% of the points are given for work experience in British Columbia or in the rest of Canada. Under Express Entry, this percentage is up to 15%. Conversely, up to 10% of the points can be given for foreign work experience under the BC PNP whereas it is less than 5 % under Express Entry.
- Candidates who do not score high on language tests may also be less penalized under the BC PNP than under Express Entry. Under the former, 20 % of the points are given for language proficiency. Under the later, it can be a little bit more than 25 %.
- Candidates who have high wages are clearly more favored under the BC PNP than under Express
Under the BC PNP, wage is the factor that gives the most points (27,5% of total points). Under Express Entry, wage does no count for any points.
- Older candidates are also clearly more favored under the BC PNP than under Express Entry. Under the BC PNP, age is not a factor taken into consideration. Under Express Entry, almost 10% of the points are given for age: this means that older candidates are at a disadvantage compared to younger ones.
In conclusion, we see that the BC PNP – Skilled Worker Stream may offer an alternative path to candidates who have limited chances under Express Entry. In addition, it offers another significant advantage to many of the candidates who are not currently in Canada. They can obtain a work permit while their permanent residency application is being processed. This opportunity is not given to those who apply under Express Entry from abroad.
The goal of this blog post is to outline some of the main requirements of the BC PNP – Skilled Worker Stream. It should not be construed as a legal opinion or as a comprehensive summary of all the program’s rules. If you have questions on this program or would like to receive a formal assessment of your eligibility, please contact Thomas Courvoisier Daoust at [email protected].
MT>Iplus is the immigration law division of McCarthy Tétrault LLP. It provides tailored Canadian and U.S. work permit/visa and permanent residence solutions to corporations and businesspeople working in all economic sectors.