Monday, February 1, 2016

The BC PNP's Skilled Immigration Programs in 2016

English: Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial...
English: Mount Robson, Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On January 27, 2016, the British Columbia Provincial Nomination Program ("BC PNP") re-opened its Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC programs, and introduced the Skills Immigration Registration System.  

The Skills Immigration Registration System is an expression of interest system to manage BC PNP Skills Immigration application intake.  It is similar to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's (“IRCC”, previously “CIC”) Express Entry system, as only registrants who are invited by the BC PNP to submit full nomination applications can actually apply for nomination certificates.  Simply meeting program requirements does not guarantee an Invitation to Apply for nomination.   

The BC PNP determined that an application intake management system would be necessary in 2016 as the BC PNP had to frequently suspend intake to its programs in 2015.  On March 31, 2015, the BC PNP announced a 90-day pause on intake to its Skills Immigration programs. On July 2, 2015, the BC PNP re-opened its Skills Immigration program to limited intake, and the programs were full within 36 hours.  On September 1, 2015, the BC PNP suspended intake to its Express Entry BC programs, and, with the limited exception of a 50 spot opening in November, the BC PNP has not accepted applications to its programs since. 

While the Skills Immigration Registration System is designed to prevent similar program closures in 2016, it does mean that many individuals who qualify for BC PNP Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC programs will be unable to apply this year.

The Skills Immigration Registration System is open, and is now accepting registrants. Potential applicants must qualify for a BC PNP Skills Immigration program, or an Express Entry BC program, at both the time of registration and application.

Skills Immigration and Express Entry BC

The BC PNP Skills Immigration stream contains the following programs:
  • Skilled Workers
  • Health Care Professionals
  • International Graduates
  • International Post-Graduates
  • Entry Level and Semi-Skilled
  • North East Pilot Project
While the detailed requirements of each program are beyond the scope of this newsletter, a brief summary of each program, including any significant changes from 2015, are as follows.

The Skilled Workers program is for individuals who have an offer of indeterminate, full-time employment with an eligible employer in British Columbia.  The position must be in an occupation classified under National Occupational Classification (“NOC”) Skill Level 0, A, or B. Applicants must have a minimum of two years of directly related full-time (or full-time equivalent) work experience in the occupation for which they are offered a job. 

The BC PNP is now defining “directly related work experience” as paid employment that is classified under the same NOC code as the British Columbia job offer.  Experience in a related occupation at a NOC Skill Level equal to or greater than the NOC code of the B.C. job offer may be considered “directly related” where there is a reasonable explanation, however, experience in a lower skill level NOC occupation will not be. It is important to note that this new definition of “directly related work experience” may negatively impact people who have been recently promoted.

The Health Care Professionals program is for individuals have an offer of indeterminate, full-time employment with a public health authority in an occupation that is an a prescribed list of occupations related to health care, including physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and, in certain circumstances, midwives. Applicants must have a minimum of two years of directly related full-time (or full-time equivalent) work experience.

The International Graduates program is for recent graduates who have an offer of indeterminate, full-time employment with an eligible employer in British Columbia.  The position must be in an occupation classified under NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B.  Alternatively, if the position is in a NOC Skill Level C or D occupation, then the applicant’s employer must demonstrate that there is a structured career plan in place that will lead to a NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B position.  No previous employment experience is required; however, applicants must have a degree, diploma or certificate from an eligible post-secondary institution in Canada, and must apply to the BC PNP within two years of graduating.

The International Post-Graduates program is for recent graduates who have a masters or doctoral degree from an eligible program at a post-secondary institution in British Columbia.  The program must be in agriculture, biological and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences and support services, engineering, engineering technology, health professions and related clinical sciences, mathematics and statistics, natural resources conversation and research, or physical sciences. No job offer is required; however, applicants must apply within two years of graduating. 

The Entry Level and Semi-Skilled ("ELSS") program is for individuals who been employed full-time by a B.C. employer in an eligible occupation for at least nine consecutive months immediately prior to applying to the BC PNP, and who have a full-time and indeterminate job offer in that occupation from the same employer who employed them during those 9 months. Eligible occupations are prescribed, and include those in tourism and hospitality, long-haul trucking, and food processing.  In addition to the nine months experience requirement, long-haul trucker drivers must also have at least two years of employment experience as a long-haul truck driver in the three year period before registering Skills Immigration Registration System.

The current occupations that are eligible for the ELSS program in the tourism and hospitality sector are:
 
NOCOccupation
6525Hotel Front Desk Clerks
6531Tour and Travel Guides
6532Outdoor Sport and Recreation Guides
6533Casino Operators
6511Maîtres d’hotel and Hosts/Hostesses
6512Bartenders
6513Food and Beverage Servers
6711Food Counter Attendants, Kitchen Helpers
6731Light Duty Cleaners at Hotels / Resorts
6732Specialized Cleaners at Hotels / Resorts
6733Janitors, Caretakers, and Building Superintendents employed by Hotels / Resorts
6721Support Occupations in Accommodation, Travel, and Facilities Setup Services at Hotels / Resorts
6741Dry Cleaning, Laundry, and Other Service Support Occupations at Hotels and Resorts
 
The Northeast Pilot Project is for individuals who have any full-time job offer in an NOC Skill Level C or D occupation, where that job is located in Northeast British Columbia.  This pilot project program will run until March 31, 2016, and may be extended.

The following are additional requirements that apply to all BC PNP Skills Immigration programs above that are based on a job offer:
  • The job offer must contain a wage that is competitive with B.C. wage rates for that occupation.

  • The job offer must establish an employee/employer relationship between the applicant and the employer. Independent contractor relationships are not accepted.

  • If the job offer is for a job in a NOC Skill Level B, C, or D, position, then the applicant will have to complete a language test, and demonstrate English or French language proficiency at a Canadian Language Benchmark 4 level in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. As well, the BC PNP may, at its discretion, require an applicant with a job offer for a job in a NOC Skill Level 0 or A position to complete a language test if the BC PNP has concerns about an applicant’s language ability.

  • The applicant cannot own more than 10% of the company that has offered the applicant employment.

  • Where the applicant is not already working for the employer, then the employer will have to conduct two weeks of bona fide and reasonable recruitment.

  • The employer must have operated in B.C. for at least one year prior to the registration being submitted, and two years for applicants in the ELSS program or the Northeast Pilot Project.

  • If the employer is located in Metro Vancouver, then the employer must have five or more full-time (or full-time equivalent) and indeterminate employees. If the employer is located outside of Metro Vancouver, it must have at least three.

  • Applicants must demonstrate that they meet the BC PNP's minimum income requirements. This minimum necessary income will depend on an applicant’s family size and area of residence in British Columbia. Applicants who are already working in British Columbia must demonstrate a history of having met the minimum necessary income requirement prior to registering. ELSS applicants must have met the minimum income requirement for the full duration of their 9 qualifying months of employment. A spouse’s income will only be considered  towards the minimum necessary income where the spouse has a valid work permit and is currently employed in British Columbia.

  • The BC PNP will not approve applications where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an employer increased an employee’s wage for the purpose of meeting minimum income requirements, or for the purpose of obtaining a higher registration score.
The minimum income cutoff is:
 
Family Income Threshold by area of Residence
Size of FamilyMetro VancouverRest of B.C.
1$21,895$18,248
2$27,257$22,716
3$33,510$27,927
4$40,685$33,908
5$46,145$38,457
6$52,043$43,374
7$57,943$48,290
 
Finally, in all programs, applicants who are out of status and who have not applied for restoration of status will not be able to apply to the BC PNP.

Applicants who are in IRCC's Express Entry pool should know that the BC PNP also has the following categories.
  • Express Entry BC - Skilled Workers
  • Express Entry BC - Health Care Professionals
  • Express Entry BC  - International Graduates
  • Express Entry BC  - International Post-Graduates
The Express Entry BC program requirements are similar to their corresponding non-Express Entry program requirements, with the exception that applicants must be in IRCC’s Express Entry pool at the time of registration, and Express Entry BC - International Graduates program participants require a job offer in a NOC Skill Level 0, A, or B position.  In 2015 the advantage of applying to an Express Entry BC program rather than its corresponding non-Express Entry BC program was that the Express Entry BC programs had faster processing times.  The same will presumably be true in 2016. 

Source:  Larlee Rosenberg