Canada’s PNP Immigration Targets Continue to Move Beyond Express Entry

The Immigration Level Plan announced on November 1 would increase the target of permanent residents coming to Canada to 500,000 per year by 2025.

A large part of the overall target increase is an increase in allocations under the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). In 2022 the program invited a total of 83,500 new permanent residents but immigration level plans for 2023–2025 show a rapid increase of 20,000 new permanent residents for 2023, up to 105,000 for 2023. PNP target increases for 2024 and 2025. More modest at 110,000 and 117,500 respectively. This means that by 2025, one-fifth of the total number of new permanent residents will be admitted through the PNP.

While provinces select the immigrants they think will contribute best to the provincial labor force, it is still Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that finalizes whether a candidate can become a permanent resident or No.

It is part of a multi-year PNP allocation plan that Canada’s immigration ministers agreed to develop during a meeting last summer.

In contrast, the Express Admissions program will invite 82,880 new permanent residents in 2023, up from 114,000 by 2025. This is a continuation of the higher targets for 2022 when the PNP target surpassed Express Entry.

The PNP targets are divided into allocations for each province. For example, in 2022 the IRCC allocated 6,500 Provincial Enrollment Certificates to Alberta and 9,700 Provincial Enrollment Certificates to Ontario. The allocation for each province over the next three years has not yet been made public.

Immigration Level Plan 2022-2024, even though Canada sets its permanent residency targets over a three-year period, the PNP allocation was set on an annual basis. The ministers agreed that in future the target of PNP allocation would also be fixed on a three-year basis.

Provinces ask for bigger PNP targets

Earlier this year the provinces met and called on the government to drastically increase immigration targets through the PNP, citing Canada’s historic labor shortage.

There are currently about one million job vacancies in Canada and the unemployment rate is 5.2%. There are not enough people to fill all the vacancies in the Canadian workforce, especially many of them in specific skilled sectors such as healthcare and technology.

Provinces typically offer immigration streams that target specific occupations that are in demand within the province. By increasing the number of immigrants provinces can select and invite through these streams, they are better equipped to fill their most urgent job vacancies, which can vary between provinces. It also benefits immigrants as they are more likely to find skilled employment, settle and integrate more easily.

What is PNP?

Immigration is a shared responsibility between the federal and provincial governments as determined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

Under the PNP, provincial governments decide which skill set will be most beneficial to the provincial economy and then invite skilled candidates to apply. If a candidate accepts a provincial nomination, meaning they intend to live and work in the province, they can apply for permanent residency through the IRCC.

The PNP started in 1998 and welcomed 400 immigrants in 1999. This number increased every year until reaching over 40,000 by 2012. This has more than doubled to over 80,000 admissions per year by 2022.

The PNP has experienced steady annual target growth as federal and provincial governments see it as an effective tool to boost the country’s economic development outside of provinces and urban centers with already high immigrant populations.

Prior to provincial enrollment, immigrants overwhelmingly chose to settle in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. This meant that the benefits of immigration, such as a strong workforce and diverse communities, did not have a strong presence in the prairie, Atlantic provinces or territories.

Provincial Enrollment encourages Express Entry candidates by adding an additional 600 points to their scores through the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Candidates who are not eligible for Express Entry may also find it easier to obtain permanent resident status with provincial enrollment.

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