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Nurse practitioners are playing an increasingly important role in the delivery of healthcare in Canada and the growing demand for them over the coming decade is expected to provide many opportunities for qualified foreign nationals to gain their permanent residence here through occupation-targeted Express Entry system draws.

“The nurse practitioner role has been increasingly recognized as part of a solution to Canada’s long-standing shortage of primary-care providers to improve access and wait times, particularly in underserved populations and communities,” note nurse practitioners Vanessa and Kathy Hardill on

“Evidence demonstrates that nurse practitioners provide high-quality, efficient and cost-effective care valued by patients, families and other healthcare providers, yet the role remains vulnerable to shifting political contexts related to healthcare reform.”

With Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) changing Canada’s Express Entry system to allow it to target 82 jobs in healthcare, technology, trades, transport and agriculture this summer – including nurse practitioners – it opened the door to a new pathway to immigration for them.

The flagship Express Entry selection system had previously only conducted draws based on immigration programs, not by targeting specific occupations.

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Ottawa made the changes to help resolve serious labour shortages in Canada. 

“Everywhere I go, I’ve heard loud and clear from employers across the country who are experiencing chronic labour shortages,” said then-Immigration Minister Sean Fraser.

“These changes to the Express Entry system will ensure that they have the skilled workers they need to grow and succeed.  We can also grow our economy and help businesses with labour shortages while also increasing the number of French-proficient candidates to help ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities.”

Across Canada, the Job Bank job-hunting and career-planning website listed 171 jobs for nurse practitioners in mid-October, with most of those jobs in Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

Job Bank gives its highest rating of very good to the job prospects for nurse practitioners in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario over the next three years and rates their job prospects as good in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan. 


The career-planning website pegs the median hourly wage for nurse practitioners in Canada,  categorized under the National Occupational Classification (NOC) 2021 system with the code 31302, at $54,01 but that varies from a low of $30.18 right up to $63.

Based on a standard, 37.5-hour work week, that means these workers can expect to earn up to $122,850 per year. 

Candidates hoping to immigrate through Express Entry occupation-targeted draws need at least six months of continuous work experience in Canada or abroad within the past three years in one of these occupations to be eligible, experience that can have been gained while working in Canada as temporary foreign workers with a work permits or as an international student with a student visa.

Provinces Have Already Been Holding Occupation-Specific Draws For Years

Under the changes announced at the end of May, the Express Entry streams, including the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program, Federal Skilled Trades (FST) program and Canadian Experience Class (CEC), as well as parts of the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) are now more responsive to labour market needs.

Canada first signalled its intention to start occupation-specific draws through Express Entry in June last year, when changes were made to the Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act to allow invitations based on occupations and other attributes, such as language ability.

The majority of Canada’s provinces have been issuing occupation-specific invitations for several years.

Under the changes to the act, the immigration minister is required to consult provinces and territories, members of industry, unions, employers, workers, worker advocacy groups, settlement provider organizations, and immigration researchers and practitioners, before announcing new categories.

IRCC must also report to parliament each year on the categories that were chosen and the reason for the choices.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) says the number of occupations facing shortages doubled between 2019 and 2021. From 2018 to 2022, federal high skilled admissions accounted for between 34 and 40 per cent of overall French-speaking admissions outside Quebec, which manages its own immigration intake.

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