A Brief Introduction to the Provincial Nominee Program of Ontario
Provincial Nominee Programs are one of the most popular channels for skilled newcomers who want to work or study in Canada.
Like other Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) is jointly operated by the Ontario government and Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), and consists of categories for skills immigrants and businesspeople respectively.
Ontario possesses many unique features. It is the most populous province in Canada and doubtless a very popular immigration destination. Both the capital of Canada, Ottawa, and Canada’s largest city, Toronto, call the province home, and the world-famous Niagara Falls is less than a two-hour drive from Toronto. Ontario is also home to several prestigious universities, including the University of Toronto, York University, and the University of Waterloo, which welcome tens of thousands of international students every year. Ontario also plays a leading role in Canada’s economy, providing newcomers with abundant employment and business opportunities.
The OINP comprises three categories, each made up of several streams: the Employer Job Offer and Human Capital categories for workers, and Business for entrepreneurs and international enterprises. The Employer Job Offer category requires applicants to have a full-time permanent job offer from an Ontario employer. The Human Capital category facilitates members of two groups: Ontarian international graduates who have either a master’s or a Ph.D. degree and Express Entry (EE) candidates.
The Employer Job Offer Category
This category incorporates three streams: Foreign Worker, International Graduate, and In-demand Skills.
The Foreign Worker and International Graduate streams both require applicants to have an eligible job offer in NOC 0, A or B. The former also requires applicants to have either a licence for the offered job or two years of work experience in the same NOC in the past five years. The latter sets education as one of its selection criteria, which requires applicants to have received a two-year degree or diploma from an eligible Canadian college or university listed by Ontario immigration. A one-year degree or diploma conferred by a listed Canadian institution that requires a completed degree as a precondition for admission also qualifies. Moreover, the study must be full-time, and applicants should complete more than half the study while living in Canada. The wage offered for the former needs to meet or surpass the median wage—or no less than an applicant’s current wage—if she or he is working in the position offered. For the latter, the median wage standard changes to low wage.
The eligibility criteria for the In-demand Skills Stream include education, work experience, language ability, settlement funds, and occupation. Applicants should have: a Canadian secondary school diploma or equivalent, one year of experience in the same NOC in the past three years, CLB 4 or higher in English or French language skills, and settlement funds equivalent to or above the number set by IRCC for EE programs. Additionally, the job offer must be in NOC C or D in the following occupations:
- NOC 7441 - residential and commercial installers and servicers
- NOC 7521 - heavy equipment operators (except crane)
- NOC 7611 - construction trades helpers and labourers
- NOC 8431 - general farm workers
- NOC 8432 - nursery and greenhouse workers
- NOC 8611 - harvesting labourers
- NOC 9462 - industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers, and related workers
The Human Capital Category
This category includes two streams: Ontario International and Ontario Express Entry.
The Ontario International Stream is split into the Master Graduate and Ph.D. Graduate streams, both of which accept graduates with either a master’s or Ph.D. degree from an eligible Ontario university. Applicants must apply to the stream within two years after acquiring their degree. In addition, applicants must study full-time in Ontario for at least one academic year if applying to the Master Graduate Stream, and two years of Ph.D. study for the Ph.D. Stream.
The mandatory requirements for the Master Graduate Stream, other than education, include language, residency in Ontario, residency when applying, and settlement funds. Applicants must reach CLB 7 in either English or French, have legally lived in Ontario for at least one year in the last two, live in Ontario or outside of Canada when applying, and have adequate settlement funds specified by the IRCC for EE programs. The residency in Ontario and settlement funds requirements apply to Ph.D. Stream applicants as well.
The Ontario Express Entry Stream is open to EE candidates and encompasses three sub-streams: French-speaking Skilled Worker, Human Capital Priorities, and Skilled Trades.
The French-speaking Skilled Worker Stream accepts EE candidates under Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) or Canadian Experience Class (CEC). The stream raises the education bar to a Canadian bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree (or equivalent). In addition to its minimum CLB 7 requirement for French language ability, a CLB 6 for English is also mandatory.
The Human Capital Priorities Stream accepts the same two-program candidates in the EE pool. Its education level mirrors the French-speaking Skilled Worker Stream and its language level criterion is CLB 7 in either English or French.
The Skilled Trades Stream is designed for EE pool candidates who are Federal Skilled Trades Program applicants. However, the stream narrows the eligible occupations to NOC Minor Group 633 or Major Groups 72, 73, or 82. It also raises the language level to CLB 5 for the four skills. Though only one year of full-time work experience is required, it must be gained in the past two years. Moreover, applicants must reside in Ontario with a valid work permit when applying to the stream.
It is worth noting that although the Ontario Express Entry Stream does not require applicants to have obtained a job offer, such applicants cannot apply to OINP directly. Instead, OINP will select candidates in the EE pool and issue the selected ones an invitation. Only those who have received an invitation from the OINP in their EE profile may apply to the stream.
The Business Category
There are two streams under this category: Corporate and Entrepreneur. The Corporate Stream suits international enterprises that have been established outside Canada for at least three years with an expansion plan in Ontario to invest a minimum of $5 million. The enterprise may request up to five key staff to establish the business who may be nominated by Ontario. The appointment of key staff, however, requires the company to create five employment opportunities for Canadians or permanent residents. The key staff must have work experience with the international company for a minimum of three years in the last five in the intended position and one continuous year in the position in the last 12 months. Only one NOC A staff is allowed; others must be in NOC 0. All key staff must not be an immediate family member of an executive board member, director, or shareholder who has more than 10% equity. Nor should such staff hold equity, unless it is obtained through their employment contract, in which case it must be less than 10%.
The Entrepreneur Stream requires applicants to meet the following minimum selection criteria: (1) have 36 months of full-time business experience in the last 60 months; (2) possess $1,500,000 net worth and invest $1,000,000 if the proposed business location is within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and $800,000 net worth and $500,000 investment if outside the GTA.; (3) create two full-time positions for Canadians or permanent residents within 20 months of establishing the business with a median level wage.
This brief article has introduced the main compulsory requirements for applicants to the OINP. Since the OINP imposes many other requirements, and since the program may change without prior notice, checking the OINP website for up-to-date program guides is a must prior to applying. Detailed information can be found on this website.