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Provincial Nomination Basics: How to Apply - 2018

How PNP started and applying now either through paper-based processing or Express Entry.

Crispin ArandaOriginally posted on May 24, 2018; updated May 24, 2018

Provincial Nomination Basics: How to Apply - 2018

Provincial Nomination Program- PNP Basics 2018

PNP Program History

Until the 1960’s when Quebec asserted its right to have a say in governing the province, Canada’s provinces were sidelined from immigration matters.  

The first of four immigration agreements with the federal government was signed in 1971. Its terms were modest: the Quebec government was authorized to post an information officer in designated countries. The 1975 agreement gave Quebec a modest role in immigrant selection, and this was enhanced in 1978.

In 1991, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Quebec signed the McDougall/Gagnon-Tremblay Accord allowing the Quebec government “the power to select all economic immigrants to the province; the federal government can overrule candidates only for serious security or medical reasons”

The points system became the precursor of the Federal Skilled Worker Program.  With the introduction of Express Entry as Canada’s immigrant selection system, the provinces were granted additional allocation from the annual immigrant target.

By then, the provinces have their own selection streams in place to respond to the provinces’ needs.

Now, the Provincial Nominee Class (PNC) allows provincial and territorial governments to choose immigrants according to the economic needs of the province or territory. Each province and territory:

  • establishes its own standards and processes by which it chooses its nominees,
  • tries to nominate those candidates who would be most likely to settle effectively into the economic and social life of the region.

The application through the PNC involves two (2) steps:

  1. Submitting the application to the province or territory where an applicant intends to live and be nominated, and
  2. After nomination by the province apply to Immigration Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for permanent residence.

Family members

The applicant’s family members (spouse or common-law partner, dependent children and any children considered as their dependent children may be included in the application.

Spouse as defined in the regulations refers to either of the two persons (opposite or same sex) in a marriage legally recognized in the country in which it took place, as well as in Canada.

“Proxy, telephone, fax, internet and similar forms of marriage where one or both parties were not physically present are no longer considered as valid spousal relationships under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations.”

Common-law partner - refers to “a person who is living in a conjugal relationship with another person (opposite or same sex) and has done so continuously for a period of at least one year. A conjugal relationship exists when there is a significant degree of commitment between two people.

This can be shown with evidence that the couple share the same home, support each other financially and emotionally, have children together, or present themselves in public as a couple.”

The regulations acknowledge and address the legal restrictions in an applicant’s home country as well as for applicants who have been separated from the common-law partner for reasons beyond their control such as civil war or armed conflict.  Common-law-partners in said situations may still qualify and should be included on the application.

Dependent children

The applicant’s child or the child of the spouse or common-law partner can be considered a dependent child if that child meets the requirements below on the day the complete application is received:

  • They’re under 22 years old, and
  • They don’t have a spouse or common-law partner

Children 22 years old or older qualify as dependents if they meet both of these requirements:

  • They have depended on their parents for financial support since before the age of 22, and
  • They are unable to financially support themselves because of a mental or physical condition

Current regulations emphasize that dependents must continue to meet these requirements until they enter Canada. The previous definition of dependent children may be considered if the permanent residence application was received on or before October 23, 2017.

Definition of a dependent child from August 1, 2014, to October 23, 2017 (Government of Canada Glossary)

Children qualify as dependents if they are:

  • under 19 years old, and do not have a spouse or common-law partner, or
  • 19 years old or older (also known as overage dependent children) and have depended on the parent’s financial support since before the age of 19 because of a physical or mental condition


The fees indicated in the table below must be included in the application. IRCC recommends that the right of permanent residence fee be paid as well to facilitate processing and avoid future delays.

Application (per person)


Principal applicant ($550) plus permanent residence fee ($4900


Spouse/Common-law partner’s application ($550) plus the permanent residence fee ($490)





Each dependent child


Permanent resident status

Upon approval the principal applicant and dependents as included receive status as permanent residents of Canada. As residents, they

  • Will remain a permanent resident (PR) until they apply and become a Canadian citizen, as long as the Canadian PR spends at least two (2) years of each five (5) year period in Canada. Otherwise the individual loses PR status.
  • May leave and re-enter Canada as often needed or desired.

Permanent Resident Rights

Permanent residents of Canada have the right to:

  • live, study and work in Canada for as long as they remain permanent residents
  • access most social benefits accorded to Canadian citizens
  • apply for Canadian citizenship, and once granted, apply for a Canadian passport (after meeting the residency requirement of being a legal permanent resident for three (3) of the four (4) previous years)

PNP application (paper based or under Express Entry)

Who can apply as a provincial nominee

Each province and territory have its own streams and criteria for their Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Because provinces continuously update, revise or upgrade streams or criteria it is recommended that you check the website of the province or territory that interests you.

Eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria for the PNP is different based on whether you apply through the paper-based (non-Express Entry streams) or Express Entry (Express Entry streams) process.

If you are applying through the paper-based process

  • You must meet the minimum requirements of one of the province or territory’s non-Express Entry streams.
  • You must be nominated under that stream.

If you are applying through Express Entry

  • You must meet the minimum requirements of a province or territory’s Express Entry PNP stream.
  • You must be nominated under that stream.
  • You must create an Express Entry profile and show that you meet the minimum criteria for Express Entry, including the requirements of one of the immigration programs it covers.
  • Use our online tool, Come to Canada, to see if you may be eligible.

In both cases, immigrants must have the skills, education and work experience to contribute to the economy of that province or territory and must want to live there.

Each province and territory have its own “streams” (immigration programs that target certain groups) and criteria for their PNP. For example, in a program stream, provinces and territories may target students, business people, skilled workers or semi-skilled workers.


Applicants are encouraged to use the Express Entry application process instead of submitting a paper-based application not only because of faster delivery and therefore faster processing but more importantly because monitoring of the processing and submitting changes in the applicant or dependent’s personal information could be done online.

IRCC sends a letter with instructions to applicants on contact information regarding changes.

If you applied before January 1, 2015 through the paper-based process and your application is complete IRCC will contact you to:

  • confirm your application is complete
  • tell you what you need to do and what will happen next

Incomplete applications shall be rejected, and processing fees refunded.

If you applied through Express Entry IRCC sends an “Acknowledgment of receipt - Application for permanent residence” letter. This letter confirms receipt of the application on the applicant’s online account.  

After evaluating the application IRCC confirms application is complete, otherwise, the application is rejected, and fees refunded.

If you are currently working in Canada

An applicant whose existing work permit is about to expire, may be eligible for a bridging open work permit.  Upon confirmation of eligibility, the applicant can continue working while waiting for the final decision on his or her permanent residence application.

If you are eligible, this permit can let you keep working while you wait for a final decision on your permanent residence application. Be sure to include the “Acknowledgment of receipt - Application for permanent residence” when applying for the bridging open work permit.

Processing times

The processing time of the application will depend on:

  • whether application was through Express Entry or paper-based and
  • which visa office is processing the application

Delays may occur if:

  • there are criminal or security problems
  • more background checks are needed
  • Unclear family situation is not clear, such as:
    • a divorce or an adoption that is not yet complete
    • child custody issues that have not been resolved
  • a visa office has to contact other IRCC offices in Canada or abroad to check information

If you applied through the paper-based process:

Check the application processing times and status of your application online if you applied on paper.

If you applied through Express Entry:

Most Express Entry applications are completed in six months or less. Status of Express Entry application online may be accessed by:

  1. Logging into online account
  2. Scrolling to the bottom of the “welcome” page
  3. Looking for the table under “view my submitted applications or profiles”
  4. Choosing the “check status and messages” button under “application type” and “Express Entry”
  5. Viewing the “Application Details” table for the status of each stage

Medical exams and police certificates – instructions are provided when the need to comply arises.

Medical ineligibility - Applications may not be accepted and refused if applicant’s health:

  • is a danger to Canada’s public health or safety
  • would cause too much demand on health or social services in Canada

Police certificates

  • Applicants with criminal record/s or those considered as posing a risk to Canada’s security may not be allowed to enter Canada.
  • Those who have spent six months or more  in any country or territory (except Canada)( since the age of 18 may need a police certificate.
  • Some countries take a long time to get police certificates so obtaining police certificates early is recommended.   


Applicants must  have enough money to settle in Canada  - to meet the minimum requirements of the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Federal Skilled Trades Program.  The fund must be used to pay the costs of living for your family (even if they aren’t coming with the applicant to Canada).

The spouse’s money/funds in a joint account may be used.  If the spouse’s fund is in his or her name only, applicant must provide evidence of having access to the fund.

Written proof of access to the funds must be provided when the applicant is invited to apply for permanent residence. Evidence that funds are up-to-date must be on applicant’s profile.

When settlement funds are not needed.

 Evidence of having enough money to support applicant and family in Canada is not required cases where applicant:

  • Is approved in the  Canadian Experience Class
  • Authorized to work in Canada, and
  • Has a  valid job offer

Keep your funds up-to-date in your profile. The system may find that you are eligible for more than one program. You don’t always know ahead of time which program you will be invited under.

How much money you will need

The amount of money you need to support your family is set by the size of applicant’s family, which includes:

  • Applicant
  • Spouse or partner
  • Dependent children and
  • Spouse’s dependent children including those who are permanent residents or Canadian citizens.

 PNP applicants usually need to provide settlement funds of $10,000 for the principal applicant and $2,000 for each dependent.  Since PNP applicants are pursuing permanent residency, the current settlement funds requirement under the Skilled Immigrant Express Entry schedule below must be met.

Number of
Family Members

Funds Required
(in Canadian dollars)















For each additional family member



What proof or evidence of funds would be considered:

The online instructions explain that

Funds must be readily available. For example, equity on real property as proof of settlement funds would not be accepted.

  • The funds must be available both when the application is submitted and when (if) the permanent resident visa is issued. visa.
  • Legal access to funds for use in settlement before or on arrival must be demonstrated to the visa immigration officer.

As evidence, official letters from any banks or financial institutions where you are keeping money.

Letter(s) must:

  • be printed on the financial institution’s letterhead
  • include their contact information (address, telephone number and email address)
  • include applicant’s name
  • list outstanding debts such as credit card debts and loans
  • include, for each current bank and investment account:
    • account numbers
    • the date each account was opened
    • the current balance of each account
    • the average balance for the past six months

1 Seidle, F. Leslie. 2013. Canada’s Provincial Nominee Immigration Programs: Securing Greater Policy Alignment. IRPP Study 43. Montreal

Authors & Contributors

Crispin Aranda

Crispin Aranda

Crispin R. Aranda is an established International Visa Conselor and Immigrant Advocate. He is the president of IVC and is in several migration radio programs.

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