IRCC Eases Language Rules: What Does It Mean for Ontario PNP Applicants?

IRCC Eases Language Rules

Great news for international students and skilled workers aiming for Ontario! Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) relaxed language requirements for Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) applicants outside Express Entry. This change, effective April 18, 2024, benefits those who may have previously struggled with language tests.

Currently, Canada has 10 provinces and three territories, most of which have agreements with the federal government to nominate immigrants, including foreign workers and international students, through their own Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Let’s take Ontario for an example!

Understanding the Ontario PNP (OINP)

Separate from the federal Express Entry system, the OINP (Ontario Immigration Nominee Program) allows individuals with the right skills, work experience, and education to apply for a nomination to settle in Ontario. The OINP uses two main application streams:

1) Expression of Interest system

This system manages applications for specific OINP categories:

 a) Employer Job Offer Streams:

Having a job offer in Ontario allows you to apply under these streams. Language isn’t an eligibility requirement, but it significantly impacts your score. For instance, a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) of 7 or higher can fetch you 4 or more points, while a CLB of 6 or lower earns you zero. It’s sub streams include:

  • Foreign Worker Stream (skilled workers with Ontario job offers)
  • International Student Stream (recent graduates with Ontario job offers)
  • In-Demand Skills Stream (foreign workers in in-demand occupations with Ontario job offers)

b) Masters and PhD Graduate Stream

This stream allows graduates with Ontario Master’s or PhD degrees to apply for permanent residency and work opportunities. Here, language skills are mandatory. You’ll need to demonstrate English or French proficiency at a CLB of 7 or higher.

Important Note: Registering your EOI doesn’t mean you’ve applied for OINP or permanent residency. It just allows them to assess your profile and see if you’re a good fit for their programs. The OINP then picks the most suitable candidates and invites them to apply for a nomination. Once nominated, you can then proceed with a formal application for permanent residency.

2) Express Entry System

The OINP also leverages the federal Express Entry system for permanent residency applications through Express Entry draws. To qualify, you’ll need an existing Express Entry profile and a Notification of Interest from the OINP. Streams managed through this system include:

a) French-Speaking Skilled Worker

This category scores you on age, education, work experience, adaptability (including funds for migration), language skills, and a valid job offer. It even has two programs to choose from:

  • Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSWP): Score at least 67 points on the six selection factors.
  • Canadian Experience Class (CEC): Similar work experience, education, and language requirements to FSWP, but with a shorter work experience requirement (3 years vs. 5 years for FSWP). The CEC program allows work experience in one or more occupations, while the FSWP requires continuous experience in your primary listed occupation.

b) Human Capital PrioritiesThe Human Capital Priorities (HCP) stream is designed for foreign workers with the necessary skills, work experience, language proficiency, and education to qualify for permanent residency in Ontario. To be eligible, applicants must have an active profile in IRCC’s Express Entry system. If Ontario sends a Notification of Interest (NOI), they can then apply online for a provincial nomination, which can lead to an invitation to apply for permanent residency.

c) Skilled TradesThe Skilled Trades stream provides foreign nationals with Ontario work experience in eligible trades the opportunity to gain permanent residency. Like HCP, candidates need an active profile on the IRCC’s Express Entry platform to be considered. Upon receiving a provincial nomination, you can proceed with your permanent residency application to the Canadian government.

What does this mean for international students and skilled workers?

This change is a positive development for international students and skilled workers considering PNP options outside of Express Entry. By removing mandatory language tests, the application process is now more inclusive and accessible. However, this isn’t a free pass to disregard language skills. While the test might not be required for some PNP applications, honing your language abilities is a smart move. It not only strengthens your application in a competitive environment but also improves your career prospects and integration into Canadian life. Consider preparing for the test anyway—it’s a valuable investment in your journey toward successful immigration.

Considering Applying to Ontario’s PNP?

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