By Victor Ing,
Special to The Post
On January 27, 2016, the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BCPNP) revealed the “Skills Immigration Registration System” (SIRS) that fundamentally changes the way that new applications will be processed starting this year.
The BC PNP offers an economic immigration pathway for high demand foreign workers and experienced entrepreneurs.
Originally established in 2001, the program gained significant popularity with immigrants and employers because it provided pathways to permanent residence for not only foreign workers in skilled occupations but also those in entry-level or semi-skilled professions in high-demand industries, as well as international graduates with limited work experience.
The program was so successful in 2015 that the BC PNP announced on September 1, 2015 that it suspended intake of new applications for the majority of the skilled immigration categories due to a surplus of applications.
The BC PNP stopped accepting applications last fall because it had already reached its nomination quota of 5,800 for the 2015 calendar year, which is the largest number of nominations out of all the provinces.
The newly announced SIRS introduces a new points-based intake system to prioritize the processing of high-impact applicants who will be invited to apply for nominations for permanent residence to Canada.
This is similar to the Express Entry system that was introduced by the federal government in January 2015, as it is a client application intake management system that will allow the BC PNP to choose who they wish to give nominations for permanent residence to, eliminating the former first come, first served model of processing applications.
The new system does not apply to interested applicants who want to apply under the Health Care Professional or International Post-Graduate categories.
The SIRS operates on a points system similar to Express Entry, which awards points for human capital factors such as work experience, language abilities, and other factors that the BC PNP considers reflect a person’s ability to succeed in the BC labour market and contribute to the local economy.
With this new intake system, all applicants interested in obtaining a BC PNP nomination under the Skills Immigration categories will need to register an online profile with the BC PNP, indicate the Skills Immigration category under which they are applying, and finally complete a profile with their personal information, including contact information, education, job offer and work experience, and language abilities.
After registering a profile, candidates will receive their registration score based on the responses completed in their profile.
The highest scoring candidates will receive an invitation to apply (ITA) from the BC PNP. However, an ITA does not guarantee that their application will be approved.
These new changes emphasize that the BC PNP is looking for quality candidates to offer ITAs to. An important factor that will be taken into consideration is the language ability of the candidate.
A candidate will need to have completed an approved language test to be granted points for their language ability. This is a significant change from the former program when there was no requirement to demonstrate an applicant’s language abilities.
Accordingly, candidates wishing to register with the SIRS system should already have their language test results available up front.
The BC PNP has not yet confirmed what their 2016 nomination quota will be. However, if the past is any indication, the introduction of the SIRS will likely not reduce the public’s enthusiasm for the BC PNP as a preferred route to permanent residence in Canada.
Victor Ing is a lawyer of Sas & Ing Immigration Law Centre. He provides a full range of immigration services.