If an employer wants to ensure that a key employee obtains permanent residence, in British Columbia there is a means by which that can be done very effectively in cases of particularly important staff and that is the Strategic Occupations Category of the Provincial Nominee Program (“PNP”).
The PNP is the product of an agreement between the Province of British Columbia and the federal government by which the province gets to select some immigrants directly. Although the number of immigrants varies from year to year, it is not uncommon for up to 5,000 British Columbia bound immigrants to be selected. The vast majority of this are nominated directly by British Columbia employers through this category.
As noted in our introduction, essentially the nominee program in B.C. is an example of the selection decision being outsourced by the federal government to the provincial government. Several things to keep in mind for the provincial nomination:
1. Applications are sent to the provincial nomination office which is located at the Waterfront Centre in Vancouver. The processing typically takes 8–10 weeks.
2. This is a permanent residence application, not a temporary foreign worker application, and once an employer has put forward a nomination, the employees are expected within 6 months to formally apply for permanent residence with the federal government. The federal government’s jurisdiction in reviewing the application is limited to confirming that the candidate is admissible and, generally speaking, they can get priority processing.
3. Provincial nomination has become a popular means of getting around confirmation process during periods when that has been either difficult to get or processing times have been particularly slow.
4. Advantages of this process is that after approximately 9 – 10 months, the applicant is a permanent resident as opposed to just a temporary foreign worker. Although this obviously is helpful in that they do not need to keep renewing their work permits, it also means that the employee is free to take other employment.
5. Buffalo – the “Near Abroad”: Provincial nomination applications need to be filed outside of Canada and the nearest visa office outside of Canada is the Regional Processing Centre contained in the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo. Buffalo, as a result, is one of the busies missions in the world and has a huge processing volume.
6. Employers generally have to have a minimum of 5 full time employees to qualify.