July 8, 2019
By Hugo O'Doherty
As of July 8, 2019, the province of Ontario has introduced significant changes to the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) through amendments to the Ontario Immigration Act.
The most significant changes have affected the Ontario Entrepreneur and Ontario In-Demand Skills streams of the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), but smaller changes have been introduced throughout.
In the Ontario Entrepreneur stream, the amounts required for investment and personal net worth have both been lowered. In the Ontario In-Demand Skills stream, three new occupations have been added to the in-demand list, including nurses aides, home support workers, and transport truck drivers. Full details about all changes are outlined below.
These changes were initially proposed by the Government of Ontario in April of this year. Following a period of public consultation, the changes have officially taken effect.
Proposed Ontario immigration changes
The regulatory amendments to the Ontario Immigration Act update the criteria for all OINP streams, including the three Express Entry-aligned streams, two graduate streams, three employer-driven streams, and two business streams.
Here are the highlights:
Express Entry streams
The following change covers the three Express Entry-aligned OINP streams, namely:
Previously, an applicant’s work experience was assessed as of the date that an applicant received a Notification of Interest (NOI) from Ontario. From now on, the program officers will assess work experience as of the date of application. In effect, this will give more applicants a chance to obtain a coveted OINP nomination because they will have up to 45 additional days to accrue at least 12 months of full-time work experience, or equivalent part-time work experience.
These streams are aligned with Canada’s Express Entry immigration selection system. Successful applicants receive 600 additional Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)points, followed by an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence. A job offer is not required in order to qualify under any of these Express Entry-aligned OINP streams.
Employer Job Offer: In-Demand Skills Stream
The eligible occupations list for the OINP In-Demand Skills Stream has expanded with the addition of three occupations to the list. The In-Demand Skills Stream supports employers facing labour shortages in lower skilled occupations in the construction and agricultural sectors.
The new list includes (occupations added to the list are in bold italics):
- Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates (NOC 3413)
- Home support workers and related occupations, excluding housekeepers (NOC 4412)
- Residential and commercial installers and servicers (NOC 7441)
- Transport truck drivers (7511)
- Heavy equipment operators (except crane) (NOC 7521)
- Construction trades helpers and labourers ( NOC 7611)
- General farm workers (NOC 8431)
- Nursery and greenhouse workers (NOC 8432)
- Harvesting labourers (8611)
- Industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers (NOC 9462)
In addition, in order to improve the responsiveness of the program to current labour market and employer needs, the work experience requirement for applicants has been reduced from 12 months to 9 months.
Employer Job offer: Foreign Worker and International Student Streams
Changes to the Foreign Worker and International Student streams are largely semantic in nature, and unlikely to affect applicants in any significant way. Nonetheless, here are those proposed changes:
- Applicants including work experience in Canada on their application must have been lawfully residing and working in Canada at the time.
- Neither the applicant nor any of the applicant’s family members hold or have held equity in the employer’s business, either directly or indirectly, unless it was obtained as part of their remuneration as an employee and the total amount of equity held by the applicant and his or her family members is less than 10 per cent of the equity in the employer’s business. (This is currently the case, the only change is to add the italicized portion.)
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The following amendments have been tabled with respect to the OINP Entrepreneur Stream:
- Previously, applicants had to prove personal minimum net worth of at least $1,500,000 if the business is in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or $800,000 is outside the GTA or in the information and communications technology or digital communications sector, regardless of location. The new changes see that requirement slashed to $800,000 for GTA-based businesses, and $400,000 outside the GTA or in the communications technology or digital communications sector, regardless of location.
- Previously, applicants needed to invest at least $1,000,000 if the business was in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or $500,000 for outside the GTA or in the information and communications technology or digital communications sector, regardless of location. The news changes see that requirement slashed to $600,000 for GTA-based businesses, and $200,000 outside the GTA or in the communications technology or digital communications sector, regardless of location.
- Whereas previously the applicant could have a maximum of one business partner for the purposes of the application, it is now stipulated that the applicant may have a maximum of one business partner who is a foreign national for the purposes of the application.
- The extent of full-time business experience in the last 60 months as a business owner or as a senior manager required has been reduced from 36 months to 24 months.
- Whereas previous applicants were required to create at least two permanent, full-time jobs for Canadian citizens or permanent residents within the first 20 months of establishing or acquiring the business that were paid at the median wage level for the position, the new change has resulted in that requirement being loosened for businesses outside the GTA or in the information and communications technology or digital communications sector, regardless of location; those businesses would only have to create at least one new job.
- The Ontario Immigration Act now stipulates that the applicant’s business plan demonstrates that the business will be viable and likely to provide material economic benefit to the economy of Ontario as a whole or to the local Ontario economy where the business will be located.
- If the applicant intends to purchase an existing business in Ontario, at least 10 percent of the investment in the business will now have to be allocated towards improving or expanding the business in Ontario.
- If the applicant will be operating a business located in the GTA, the applicant will not acquire, own or operate: a business that was ever previously owned or operated by a person who received a certificate of nomination in the entrepreneur category or under the now defunct investor category, OR a business involved in producing, distributing or selling pornography or sexually explicit products or services, or providing sexually oriented services.
- The applicant will now be asked submit the application for a certificate of nomination within 90 days after receiving an invitation to apply for it.
The Corporate Stream has officially been terminated as it has not achieved its intended objective of bringing in international corporations to Ontario.
Masters Graduate Stream
A slight tweak to the Masters Graduate Stream may result in more graduates being eligible to apply.
Whereas previously the applicant must have had, less than two years before the date of making the application, completed the requirements necessary to obtain a Masters degree from an eligible Ontario institution that takes at least one year to complete if pursued on a full-time basis, the new change opens the door to applicants who take longer to complete the study program by completing all or part of that program on a part-time basis. In this case, the applicant now may submit a letter from the eligible Ontario institution indicating that he or she has completed all the requirements necessary to obtain a Masters degree that takes at least one year to complete if pursued on a full-time basis.
PhD Graduate Stream
The only new change to the PhD Graduate Stream is unlikely to have much, if any, material effect.
Previous requirement: The applicant must have, less than two years before the date of making the application, completed the requirements necessary to obtain a Ph.D. degree from an eligible Ontario institution.
New change: The applicant must have submitted one of the following, dated no more than two years before the date of making the application:
- Proof that the applicant has obtained a PhD degree from an eligible Ontario institution.
- A letter from the eligible Ontario institution indicating that the applicant has completed all the requirements necessary to obtain a PhD degree.
What about other PNP changes and updates?
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