A look back on Ontario immigration in 2021, and guide to Provincial Nominee Programs for future immigrants.
Ontario nominated 9,000 immigration applicants for permanent residence in 2021, hundreds more than planned.
Last May, the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) announced that it was allowed to welcome 8,600 newcomers in 2021. Of these, 250 could be working in National Occupational Classification (NOC) skill level C occupations, which generally require a high school education or specific job training. Before the end of the year, Ontario got an additional 400 nominations from the federal government through an in-year reallocation.
This is not the first time Ontario exceeded its original allocation. In 2020, Ontario nominated 8,054 principal applicants to apply for Canadian permanent residence even though it was originally allowed 7,350.
In Canada, the federal government gives each of the provinces a set number of nominations they are allowed to issue. These nominations support immigration applications, which all must go through the federal government. Provincial nominations signal to the federal government that this applicant can help support provincial and territorial goals for economic and population growth. Last year, Ontario’s immigration minister, Monte McNaughton, called on the federal government to double the province’s allocation of immigrants to support labour shortages.
Ontario is among the majority of Canadian provinces and territories, other than Quebec and Nunavut, that participate in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). PNPs allow provincial governments to create immigration programs for people who have in-demand skills, connections to the region like work or study experience, or who want to create business and investment opportunities that could thrive in the labour market.
If you want to immigrate to Ontario through a PNP, you might want to decide if applying as an Express Entry candidate is your best route, or if it makes more sense to go through a base stream. Base streams are paper-based applications, and you do not necessarily need to be eligible for Express Entry.
Here, we’ll explain both pathways for workers.
Ontario immigration for Express Entry candidates
To get a provincial nomination through an enhanced (aka Express Entry-linked) immigration stream, you need to first be eligible for an Express Entry-managed program. There are three:
- Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP)
- Canadian Experience Class (CEC)
- Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP)
Express Entry is an online immigration application management system. Eligible candidates get a score based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The top-scoring candidates receive an Invitation to Apply (ITA) for permanent residence. With this invitation, candidates can then apply for Canadian immigration.
If you receive a provincial nomination as an Express Entry candidate, you get 600 points automatically added to your CRS score, and you apply for immigration through the Provincial Nominee Class. This award pushes you to the top of the pool, and allows you to be eligible for a PNP-specific Express Entry draw.
Ontario’s Human Capital Category includes three enhanced PNPs that are available to Express Entry candidates:
- Human Capital Priorities, for people who are eligible for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), and meet other stream-specific requirements.
- Skilled Trades, for people with relevant Ontario work experience in an eligible trade occupation.
- French-Speaking Skilled Worker, for eligible FSWP and CEC candidates who have strong language skills in both French and English.
Ontario holds invitation rounds for Express Entry candidates to apply for a provincial nomination under these streams. In 2021, Ontario issued the following numbers of invitations to candidates who may be eligible for each stream:
- Human Capital Priorities stream – 6,259
- Skilled Trades stream – 1,224
- French-Speaking Skilled Worker stream – 651
Ontario’s base immigration streams
The OINP operates its own immigration programs outside the Express Entry system. Last year, Ontario launched its own Expression of Interest (EOI) system for base PNPs.
Through the EOI system, Ontario ranks candidates’ profiles based on a scoring matrix. Candidates get points for education, work experience, and intended destination in Ontario, among other factors.
There are five programs that you can be eligible for with a profile in Ontario’s EOI system:
- Master’s Graduate Stream, for people who graduated with a Master’s degree from an Ontario University
- Ph.D. Graduate Stream, for individuals who received a Ph.D. from an Ontario University
- Foreign Worker Stream, for workers in occupations that fall under NOC skill levels 0, A, or B
- International Student, for recent graduates of Ontario post-secondary institutions
- In-Demand Skills Stream, for workers in in-demand occupations such as personal support workers. Certain workers in agriculture, construction, and trucking sectors may also be eligible.
Ontario holds rounds of invitations that invite candidates in its EOI pool to apply for a provincial nomination. In 2021, the province rolled out the EOI system starting with the Foreign Worker and International Student streams in April. In-Demand Skills was added in June. Master’s Graduate and Ph.D. Graduate stream candidates were the last to join the system in August.
Here are the number of invitations Ontario issued through each EOI stream in 2021:
- Employer Job Offer: Foreign Worker stream – 2,866
- Employer Job Offer: International Student stream – 2,290
- Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills stream – 238
- Masters Graduate stream – 1,834
- PhD Graduate stream – 204