Let’s move to Canada! Ok, but where?

Choosing a Province with a Provincial Nominee Program for You

August 2016

I recently took a trip to Prince Edward Island (‘PEI’) with my family. For those of you wondering, PEI is an island located off of Canada’s east coast. It is amongst a cluster of provinces we call ‘the Maritimes’.


We had a fantastic time. Looking around, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to move here. It seemed like a pleasant idea. According to our kayaking guide, you can buy a modest home for around $100,000. The pace of life is easygoing and slow, with no commutes unlike in big cities. They also have a great arts scene – my husband said the production of Mamma Mia! we saw rivalled a show he saw in London, England. Moreover, other then being the home of the famous fictional character Anne of Green Gables, PEI is also known for its potato farming. Which leads me to admit… the chocolate covered potato chips we ate were enough to make anyone want to live here!

Clearly, PEI has some great qualities. But so do other provinces. How would someone looking to relocate to Canada decide which province to move to?


Choosing the Province

First, let’s go over the basics. Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories. Our country stretches from one ocean to another; you wouldn’t want to take less than a week to drive the entire distance. Climate and geography vary immensely as you go from one region to another.

If you don’t know where in Canada you would like to settle, my recommendation is that you start with where the job market is hot for your occupation. Use this link.

Applicants have the option of applying to immigrate through a federal program or through a province-specific program. All the provinces and territories, except Québec and Nunavut, have ‘Provincial Nominee Programs’. They focus on finding individuals and families who will do well in the local economies.

The provinces and territories are given the power to run these programs, because the federal government acknowledges that Canada occupies a massive piece of land. It makes sense that different areas of the country will be in need of different types of workers. For Québec, an even more distinct program exists to allow the province to choose people it thinks would contribute to its unique French heritage.

Provincial Nominee Procedures

While each provincial program is slightly different, many also have similarities. For example, many PNP programs have a component which works through the federal Express Entry category of immigration. Based on province-specific criteria, individuals who are in the federal Express Entry pool of applicants can be selected as provincial nominees. They are then given extra Express Entry points, which guarantees that they will be invited to apply for permanent residency through the federal program. Once they’ve been invited, the federal government (Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada) completes the security and medical checks.

Ontario is one of the provinces which uses the Express Entry stream. It also has a program for individuals who already have job offers from pre-screened employers. Another is for those who have Masters or PhD degrees, which were completed in Ontario. The Ontario Express Entry, employee-with-job-offer, and Masters and PhD programs are very popular, and are already temporarily closed until 2017 due to reaching their caps. However, a few other streams remain open. One is for individuals looking to come as entrepreneurs. There is also a program for those who would like to invest a significant amount of capital into a corporation. Ontario once had an investor-specific program, however this one is now closed. The OINP-Ontario Express Entry: French Speaking Skilled Workers also remains open.

Many provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Alberta, have programs for specific occupations. For example, individuals may apply through Saskatchewan’s Long-Haul Truck Driver Project or through Alberta’s Engineering Occupations Category. Individuals who work in the health sector, including physicians and nurses, will also often find that there are programs aimed specifically at them. One is example is British Columbia’s Health Care Professional Stream. The same goes for those looking to set up larger-scale farming operations. In almost all provincial programs, there are streams available for international students who have completed studies in the respective provinces. Investors also have opportunities, such as in Manitoba and PEI. It is of note that for all the programs, individuals must intend to live in the province they are applying under.


It’s Research Time

When choosing which province to move to, it is worth it to spend time researching whether that province has a PNP program you are eligible for. That way, you’ll have an option in addition to the Express Entry program.  Here is a list of all of the PNP websites:


I do many consultations for people who say they are willing to live ‘anywhere’ in Canada. Really?  Do you know how large the mosquitos are in some parts of Canada?  Would you be able to live in a community without others who speak your language?  Would you be comfortable enrolling your children in a school where there are no others of their skin tone?  Parts of Canada are very racial diverse, others are not.  Do you love spending time outdoors, or is shopping more your thing?  In addition to economic prospects, you must also consider the type of community you want to live in, be it rural or urban.  Consider climate, educational opportunities, and the availability of international airports.  All will affect your day to day life in Canada.

Moving to a new country is a huge decision to make. Make use of Google, and find out all you can before you make the leap.