All Canadian provinces and territories (except Nunavut) have provincial immigration programs. There is a great number of pathways for workers, students, and graduates. For example, if you secured a job offer in a Canadian company, you can be selected to apply for a provincial nomination, and, in case your application is approved, you can get permanent residency in Canada.
British Columbia, one of the best provinces to live in Canada, also has such a program, called the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP). It stands out from over provincial programs as it offers the BC PNP Tech Program — a special fast-track immigration pathway that facilitates the process of immigration specifically for IT professionals and other international tech workers.
British Columbia’s Tech Program was launched in 2017 and is expected to run at least until June 2021. Since its launch, the Tech Program has supported over 6,000 tech workers to be nominated for permanent residence in Canada. In 2020, 1,855 people received provincial nominations — a 23% increase over 2019.
What are the upsides?
The BC PNP Tech Program may be interesting to you for the following reasons:
- No LMIA required. Opposed to other pathways, the BC PNP Tech Program doesn’t require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). This document is needed in the majority of other cases to prove that the employer has advertised the position locally and could not find a suitable worker among Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Without an LMIA, you can immigrate to Canada much faster.
- Work permit support. If nominated, the BC PNP can provide a support letter to facilitate your application for a work permit so you can begin working in the job you have been offered.
- Client support. You can contact the BC PNP at any stage by phone or email and ask any questions about the pilot.
- IT workers are welcome!
To participate in the British Columbia Tech Program, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have a job offer from an employer in British Columbia.
- Your job offer must be for at least one year (365 days), and it must have at least 120 days remaining at the time of application.
- Your job offer must be for a single job in one of the eligible occupations.
Here is the list of eligible IT occupations (NOC stands for the “National Occupational Classification”):
- NOC 0213: Computer and information systems managers (Skill Level 0)
- NOC 2147: Computer engineers, except software engineers and designers (Skill Level A)
- NOC 2281: Computer network technicians (Skill Level B)
- NOC 2174: Computer programmers and interactive media developers (Skill Level A)
- NOC 2172: Database analysts and data administrators (Skill Level A)
- NOC 2171: Information systems analysts and consultants (Skill Level A)
- NOC 2283: Information systems testing technicians (Skill Level B)
- NOC 2173: Software engineers and designers (Skill Level A)
- NOC 2282: User support technicians (Skill Level B)
- NOC 2175: Web designers and developers (Skill Level A)
Top tech occupations nominated in 2020 were software engineers and developers, computer programmers and interactive media developers, information systems analysts and consultants, and user support technicians.
Apart from that, you must also meet the general requirements of the BC Provincial Nominee Program:
- Proficiency in English. While language test results (e. g. IELTS) may not be mandatory, they can allow you to get more points. However, if your skill level is B (see the list of eligible occupations), you must submit language test results showing you have obtained a minimum score of 4 under the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB). This score corresponds to IELTS Reading: 3.5; Writing: 4.0; Listening: 4.5; Speaking: 4.0. Your language test results should not be older than 2 years.
- Minimum income requirements. If you’re planning to live in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, your family income should be no less than C$22,804 for one person, C$28,390 for two persons, C$34,902 for three persons, etc. — up to C$60,350 for seven persons or more. If you’re going to live in other regions of British Columbia, your family income can be 3–5 thousand less.
In 2020, the average salary of the Tech Program applicants was C$74,912 in the Skills Immigration — Skilled Worker category and C$81,619 in the Express Entry BC — Skilled Worker category. Almost 80% of British Columbia nominees intended to live in Metro Vancouver.
Here is the list of documents you will need to apply:
- Copy of the biographical page of your passport.
- Current photograph.
- Job offer.
- Copy of language test results.
- Copy of education and/or training certificates.
- Copy of Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), if applicable.
- Current resume/CV.
- Evidence of meeting minimum income requirements (your salary indicated in the job offer, payslips, bank statements, etc.).
- If your documents are not in English: certified translation with photocopies of the originals. Documents must be stamped and certified by a person officially authorized to notarize documents as accurate translations.
- From your employer: employer recommendation letter, copy of the offer of employment, detailed job description, company information, copy of the Certificate of Incorporation, copy of the valid municipal Business License.
- Copy of Express Entry Candidacy from IRCC — if you’ve chosen an Express Entry BC category.
You need to take several steps:
1. Job offer. Determine if your job offer is one of the eligible occupations. If you’re going to work in the IT industry, your job offer is most likely eligible.
2. Immigration category. Select which category would be the best fit for your application: normally it’s Skills Immigration — Skilled Worker or Express Entry BC — Skilled Worker. If you’ve graduated from a Canadian university, you may be eligible for the International Graduate category.
If you register under an Express Entry BC category, you will be awarded an additional 600 points toward your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) if your provincial nomination application is approved. These points guarantee an Invitation To Apply (ITA) for Canadian permanent residence at a later federal Express Entry draw.
The rest of the candidates invited under the Skills Immigration categories will have their applications processed directly by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) once a provincial nomination is issued by British Columbia.
3. Express Entry profile. If you’ve chosen the Express Entry category, complete your Express Entry profile with IRCC’s Express Entry system. You will receive an Express Entry profile number and a Job Seeker validation code. If you’ve chosen the Skills Immigration category, you can skip this step.
4. Online registration. Register online to the BC PNP’s points-based Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS). Registration is free.
After you complete your registration, you will receive your registration score and will enter a selection pool. Your registration is successful if you receive a confirmation of the registration email with your BC PNP registration number. Your registration will remain in the selection pool for a maximum of 12 months from the date of submission.
In 2022, the minimum score in Tech Program draws varied from 80 to 87. Factors that influence your ability to score include your occupation, salary offer, work experience, level of education, and English language proficiency.
5. Weekly invitations. Every week, the BC PNP will conduct a draw to invite the highest-scoring tech specialists to apply. The number of invitations in 2022 was 100 to 160 per draw.
6. Invitation to apply. If you are invited to apply, you have up to 30 calendar days from the date of invitation to submit a completed online application. The application requires a C$1,150 processing fee.
7. Priority processing. The BC PNP will process the application on a priority basis.
8. Nomination certificate. If approved, you will receive a nomination certificate (confirmation of nomination). This nomination does not authorize you to work in Canada while IRCC is processing your application.
9. Permanent residence. You can use your nomination certificate to apply for Canadian permanent residence under the Provincial Nominee Class. You need to submit a complete application for permanent residence to the designated IRCC visa office before the expiry date listed on your nomination certificate.
10. Work permit support letter. If you have submitted your application to IRCC, you can apply to BC PNP Online for a work permit support letter to renew your work permit.
About 80% of BC PNP applications are processed within 2–3 months. Tech Program applications are typically processed in shorter timeframes.
Learn about other Canadian immigration programs and job relocation process: