Canada’s provincial immigration programs have reacted in different ways to the coronavirus crisis.

Measures were implemented by most provinces to help applicants affected by the pandemic.

IRCC announced in September that Provincial Nominee Program candidates who lost their employment offers due to coronavirus have a year to find a new job and still qualify for Canada immigration. 

While most provinces have worked to get back to issuing Invitations to Apply and provincial nominations on a regular basis, only Alberta has announced it plans to limit immigration to help provide jobs for locals during the recovery.

British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP) quickly moved to close its Vancouver office and cancel all in-person interviews as coronavirus set in during March.

A number of measures were introduced for candidates impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns, including the ability to put applications on hold for up to 24 weeks, capped until August 30, 2020.

BCPNP draws began excluding 31 jobs effectively deemed no longer in demand due to the impact of restrictions.

But, unlike many provinces, weekly B.C. draws for both skilled immigration streams and the B.C. PNP Tech Pilot continued without a significant break. The Tech Pilot has been extended again into 2021.

BCPNP: Key Articles and Pages

British Columbia Immigration
British Columbia Immigration Draws
BC PNP Tech Pilot
COVID-19: British Columbia to Exclude Certain Jobs from Immigration Draws Until End of 2020
Coronavirus: British Columbia Caps Time Applications Can Be Put On Hold
British Columbia’s Successful BC PNP Tech Pilot Extended To June 2021

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program

Ontario was another province to follow the federal government lead and continue to invite candidates and issue nominations despite the coronavirus crisis.

The province reached its 2020 nomination allocation, including 450 extra spaces, in December.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) also launched and later met its intake limit for a new Regional Immigration Pilot, designed to get skilled immigrants moving to smaller communities.

Summary of Ontario NOIs 2020

Stream Notifications of interest
Human Capital Priorities Stream (HCP) 6,716
French Speaking Skilled Worker Stream (FSSW) 902
Skilled Trades Stream (ST) 1,464
Entrepreneur Stream 113

The province also effectively created a new stream for manufacturing jobs by adding 13 NOC codes to the target occupations under the Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skilled Stream.

Ontario will launch an Express of Interest system for several of its streams in 2021.

OINP: Key Articles and Pages

Ontario Immigration
Ontario immigration Draws
Ontario Immigration Maxes Out 2020 Nomination Allocation – Including 450 Extra Spaces

Ontario International Student Stream: Candidates Affected By Error Will Be Allowed to Register
Ontario Meets Intake Limit for Regional Immigration Pilot
Ontario Immigration to Introduce Expression of Interest System
Ontario Adds 13 New Manufacturing Occupations to Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skilled Stream
Coronavirus: Ontario Immigration Issues Extensive Advice For Candidates and Employers

Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program

Manitoba escaped major lockdowns during the first wave of coronavirus, but was fully in the eye of the storm by the time the second wave of COVID-19 began to spread in Canada.

Immigration draws for the oldest provincial program continued uninterrupted. This including the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) conducting its 100th draw on October 8.

MPNP: Key Articles and Pages

Manitoba Immigration
Manitoba Immigration Draws
Manitoba Immigration Conducts 100th Provincial Draw, Issues 191 LAAs

Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program

Saskatchewan was another province to escape the brutal impact of the first wave of COVID-19 in Canada, but bear the brunt of the second wave.

The Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program postponed Entrepreneur Expression of Interest draws from March onwards as a result of the pandemic.

Draws continued through the Saskatchewan Expression of Interest system, targeted at the province’s Occupations In-Demand and Express Entry categories.

Earlier in the year, before the crisis began, the province moved to abandon its use of application intake thresholds and repeated a call to be given more power over its immigration system.

SINP: Key Articles and Pages

Saskatchewan Immigration
Saskatchewan Immigration Draws
Saskatchewan To Abandon Use Of Immigration Application Intake Thresholds
Saskatchewan Continues To Push Ottawa For More Immigration Power

Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program

Alberta has so far been the only Canadian province to expressly state it would be reducing immigration as part of its coronavirus response.

Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) draws stopped in June 2020 after the announcement of Premier Jason Kenny’s recovery strategy.

The province also announced it would not meet its federal government nomination allocation for 2020. It chose to nominate 4,000 candidates, 64 per cent of the 6,250 spaces allocated by Ottawa.

Alberta also announced two new programs aimed at international graduate entrepreneurs in 2020.

The International Graduate Entrepreneur Immigration Stream opened on October 26, 2020, while a new Foreign Graduate Start-Up Visa Stream aimed at graduates from U.S. universities is due to open in January 2021.

AINP: Key Articles and Pages

Alberta immigration
Alberta Immigration Draws

Alberta Immigration Launches Two New Programs Aimed at International Graduate Entrepreneurs
Alberta Immigration Says It Will Not Meet 2020 Federal Nomination Allocation
Alberta Immigration Introduces Series of Coronavirus Special Measures
Alberta Engineering Technologist Regulator Leads Way On Foreign Credential Recognition

Nova Scotia Nominee Program

Nova Scotia managed to escape the brunt of the coronavirus crisis, along with the Atlantic region in general. Case numbers were low in both the first and second wave, although they were the highest in the region.

The province has had a quiet year in term of immigration, with the major news being the permanent closure of the Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry Stream in December. 

The stream was unpopular and was usurped by the Labour Market Priorities stream, though which draws were conducted throughout the year.

NSNP: Key Articles and Pages

Nova Scotia Immigration
Nova Scotia Immigration Draws
Nova Scotia Announces Permanent Closure of Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry Stream
Nova Scotia Appeals To Canada’s Federal Government For Help Bringing In Doctors
Atlantic Immigration Pilot Candidates: Submit Work Permit Applications Online

New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program

New Brunswick was another province to escape the full force of the coronavirus pandemic during both waves in 2020.

The province moved early to restrict inter-provincial migration, although was later part of the ‘Atlantic bubble’ with its three neighbours of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland & Labrador and Prince Edward Island.

New Brunswick officials announced bold plans to increase immigration to 10,000 newcomers per year at the start of 2020.

Later in the year, the New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBPNP) announced a new pathway to permanent residence specifically for transport truck drivers, under NOC 7511.   

NBPNP: Key Articles and Pages

New Brunswick immigration
New Brunswick Immigration Creates Specific Pathway For Transport Truck Drivers (NOC 7511)
Coronavirus: New Brunswick Restricts Inter-Provincial Migration
New Brunswick Plans To Grow Economy By Boosting Immigration To 10,000 Per Year

Prince Edward Island Provincial Nomination Program

Prince Edward Island also managed to keep its coronavirus case load to a minimum, although there were disruptions to draws through the PEI Provincial Nomination Program.

The PEI immigration office provided essential services only during the first wave, when monthly skilled worker draws were all but halted.

The province did leverage the PEI PNP to bring in healthcare workers and truckers to support its pandemic response.

PEI PNP: Key Articles and Pages

Prince Edward Island Immigration
Prince Edward Island Immigration Draws
Prince Edward Island Leverages PEI PNP To Support Healthcare and Trucking Industries

Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program

The Newfoundland & Labrador Office of Immigration continued to provide essential services for newcomers and employers during the coronavirus crisis. Application screening and processing continued at reduce volume.

The Newfoundland & Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) upped its game in terms of attracting technology workers in 2020.

Multiple IT jobs were added to its in-demand occupations and it announced a new PNP stream targeting tech sector workers.

Changes were also made to requirements for the province’s International Graduate Category.

Key Articles and Pages

Newfoundland & Labrador Immigration
Newfoundland Adds Multiple IT Jobs to List of In-Demand Occupations
Newfoundland Immigration Changes Requirements for International Graduate Category
Newfoundland To Open New PNP Stream Targeting Technology Sector Workers
Newfoundland Immigration Releases Coronavirus Guidelines

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