British Columbia is a western Canadian province known for its natural beauty and mild climate. Major cities like Vancouver and Victoria have vibrant, multicultural communities that welcome immigrants from around the world. There are good economic opportunities in sectors like technology, forestry, tourism, and agriculture. British Columbia also has an accessible healthcare system, good public education, and policies that protect human rights and support diversity. With mountain ranges, forests, beaches and a pacific coastline, British Columbia offers immigrants beautiful scenery paired with an open, progressive society focused on sustainability and work-life balance.

British Columbia Immigration Options

Those seeking to become permanent residents of British Columbia have three pathways from which to choose:

1. Skills Immigration Stream

  • The provincial government designed this program to attract skilled workers, healthcare professionals, recent graduates, and even those with no/minimal experience. 
  • Required applicants must secure employment within British Columbia prior to applying, with the exception of international post-secondary graduates. Specific candidates eligible for this stream consist of:
    •    Skilled trades-persons 
    •    Healthcare workers
    •    International students who graduated from a Canadian university or college
    •    Entry-level and semi-skilled individuals with confirmed job offers

2. Express Entry British Columbia 

  • This stream remains open to skilled professionals, healthcare workers, and post-secondary graduates. It links directly with Canada's federal Express Entry program.  

3.  Entrepreneur Immigration  

  • As suggested by its title, this avenue permits business investor-owners and entrepreneurs to gain permanent residence based on proposals aimed at establishing or purchasing enterprises within British Columbia.
The Skills Immigration and Express Entry streams prioritize qualified people with education, experience, and career-readiness. Alternatively, the Entrepreneur Immigration facilitates founders and innovative investors who can contribute to B.C. through business development and economic growth within the province.

1. Skills Immigration Stream 

The Skilled Worker Immigration program administered by British Columbia Province provides multiple categories catering to applicants with diverse backgrounds:  

• Skilled Worker Category

  • This avenue suits individuals who have secured eligible job offers within occupations demanding specialized expertise and several years of relevant experience.  

• Healthcare Professional Category  

  • Physicians, nurses, psychiatric nurses, and allied health professionals with credentials and experience may apply under this stream if they obtain qualifying positions in one of 11 designated medical fields.

• International Graduate Category

  • Recent graduates (from the past 3 years) of accredited Canadian university and college programs can access this category provided they obtain employment from a British Columbia employer.  

• International Post-Graduate Category

  • This pathway does not mandate confirmed job offers. It allows Masters and PhD graduates focused on the natural, applied, and health sciences from authorized British Columbian institutions to qualify as provincial nominees. 

• Entry Level and Semi-Skilled Worker Category   

Workers possessing basic competencies or capabilities may still immigrate through this program if employed in tourism, hospitality, food processing, long-haul transport, or living and working in certain regions.

Application Requirements & Processing:

  1. Application Fee: $1,150 for initial review; $500 for any subsequent appeals  
  2. Estimated Processing Time: 2-3 months  
  3. Minimum Eligibility Criteria:
    • Confirmed full-time job offer in an approved occupation (excluding post-graduates)
    • Proposed wage aligning with provincial standards (excluding post-graduates)   
    • Evidence of financial self-sufficiency (excluding post-graduates)
    • Meet minimum language scores, if applicable  
    • Employer also must meet legitimacy and related regulations

Enrollment in the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS)

To initiate the process, individuals are required to register with the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS). This step enables the province of British Columbia (B.C.) to assess various aspects such as job details, educational background, location within B.C., language proficiency, and wage, aligning them with the current provincial labor market demands. Registration can be completed by diligently filling out all sections of the registration form available on the BCPNP Online platform.

Exception for Certain Categories From Registering with SIRS

It's important to note that candidates falling under the International Post-Graduate Category and the Healthcare Professional Category are exempt from the registration process with the SIRS. Instead, they can directly submit their applications through the BCPNP Online portal.

Scoring and Selection Pool Entry

Upon completion of registration, applicants receive a registration score which is determined based on multiple factors. Subsequently, they are placed into a selection pool corresponding to their chosen category. Those individuals meeting specific eligibility criteria and possessing a score surpassing a predefined threshold are subsequently invited to apply for a provincial nomination through provincial draws.

Application Process

Candidates who receive an invitation to apply for provincial nomination are granted a period of 30 days to complete and submit their applications through the BCPNP Online platform. 

Application for Permanent Residence

Upon successfully securing a provincial nomination, candidates are eligible to proceed with applying for permanent residence status with the Canadian federal government, marking a significant milestone in their immigration journey.

Category Is a job required? Is it currently receiving applications? Additional Requirements
Skilled Worker Yes Yes Must have at least two years of work experience in skilled work. (NOC TEER 0, 1, 2, 3)
Healthcare Professional Yes Yes Must have at least two years of experience as physicians, nurses, psychiatric nurses or allied health professionals.
International Graduate Yes Yes Must have graduated from an eligible university or college in the last three years.
International Post-Graduate No Yes Must have graduated with a Master's or PhD from a B.C. university in the natural, health sciences or applied programs of study.
Entry-level and Semi-skilled worker Yes, candidates must be currently working. Yes Candidates must be employed in specific roles within the tourism, food processing, or long-haul trucking industries, or alternatively, they must reside and work in the Northeast Development Region of British Columbia.

Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS)

The Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS) operates as a points-based system, assessing candidates through a registration score to ascertain their eligibility for application invitations. This score is formulated based on various criteria, encompassing educational attainment, years of relevant work experience, and the presence of a job offer within British Columbia. These factors collectively gauge an individual's potential to thrive within the labor market and contribute positively to the provincial economy.

SIRS Scoring

In the SIRS scoring system, several factors play a pivotal role in determining the allocation of points to registered candidates. These factors include the level of education attained, the extent of direct work experience, and the possession of a job offer from a B.C. employer. It's crucial to note that upon receiving an invitation to apply, all details furnished during registration undergo meticulous verification against the information submitted within the application itself.

Scoring Sections Maximum Points
Economic Factors (80)
Hourly Wage of the B.C. Job Offer 55
Regional District of Employment 25
Human Capital Factors (120)
Directly Related Work Experience 40
Highest Level of Education 40
Language 40
Total Points Available (200)

2. Express Entry: Streamlining Immigration to Canada

Express Entry serves as a streamlined application management system utilized by the Canadian federal government to administer the country's primary economic class immigration programs, namely the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), the Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP), and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC).

Integration with Provincial Nominee Programs

Furthermore, numerous Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams leverage the Express Entry system, denoted as "enhanced" streams, while those not utilizing this system are termed "base" streams.

Assessment and Invitation Process

Candidates within the Express Entry system undergo evaluation based on various factors including age, educational background, work experience, and language proficiency. Their scores, determined by the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), dictate their eligibility for invitation to apply for permanent residence in Canada through Express Entry draws.

Enhanced Streams and Provincial Nominations

Enhanced PNP streams, such as the Express Entry B.C. stream, are closely aligned with the Express Entry system. British Columbia (B.C.) actively searches the Express Entry pool for qualified candidates based on the information provided in their profiles. Candidates who receive a provincial nomination from B.C. earn an additional 600 CRS points, significantly enhancing their chances of receiving an invitation to apply for permanent residence in subsequent Express Entry draws.

3. Entrepreneur Immigration Options in British Columbia

For those aspiring to immigrate to British Columbia as entrepreneurs, three distinct options are available:

A. Entrepreneur Immigration - Base Category

This category caters to senior managers or business owners aiming to invest funds into a proposed business in British Columbia. It's worth noting that new registrations under this category have been temporarily suspended, with the province expected to announce a reopening date in early 2022.

B. Entrepreneur Immigration - Regional Pilot

Introduced as a new pilot program, this initiative targets international entrepreneurs seeking to establish a new business in a small community within British Columbia.

C. Strategic Projects Category

Under this category, foreign-controlled companies can establish operations in British Columbia, with up to five key foreign managerial, professional, or technical staff members nominated for permanent residence in the province.

Entrepreneur Immigration and Strategic Projects Fees

Fees associated with the Entrepreneur Immigration and Strategic Projects categories are outlined as follows:
- Registration: $300
- Application: $3,500
- Request for Review: $500
- Strategic Projects Key Staff: $1,000 (per key staff)

Processing Times

Processing times for various stages within the Entrepreneur Immigration program are as follows:
- Registration score notification: 6 weeks (from the date of registration submission)
- Application decision notification: 4 months (from the date of application submission)

Application Process for Entrepreneur Immigration Categories

  • Interested individuals must complete registration and submit a business concept via BCPNP Online.
  • Based on the provided information, candidates receive a score and enter the qualified pool.
  • Periodically, top-scoring candidates are invited to apply for Entrepreneur Immigration Categories.
  • Upon invitation, candidates have four months to submit a complete application through BCPNP Online.
  • A BC PNP-authorized accounting firm assesses the candidate's personal net worth post-application.
  • Successful candidates receive a two-year work permit to establish their business in B.C.
  • They have up to 20 months to implement their business plan before applying for permanent residence through a provincial nomination from B.C.

Minimum Requirements for Entrepreneur Immigration Categories

The minimum requirements for Entrepreneur Immigration categories are summarized as below:

Category: Entrepreneur Immigration

  • Must have a personal net worth of at least CAD $600,000
  • Must demonstrate business or management experience
  • Must meet language requirements in English or French (CLB level 4 or higher)
  • Must establish a new business or purchase and improve an existing business
  • Must make a personal investment of at least CAD $200,000 in the business
  • Must create at least one full-time job for a Canadian citizen or permanent resident

Category: Entrepreneur Immigration - Regional Pilot

  • Must have a personal net worth of at least CAD $300,000
  • Must have three years of experience as an active business owner-manager, or four years of experience as a senior manager, or a combination of one year of experience as an owner-manager and two years of experience as a senior manager
  • Must meet education requirements
  • Must meet language requirements in English or French (CLB level 4 or higher)
  • Business must meet additional requirements

Category: Strategic Projects

  • Company must be well-established and in good financial standing
  • Must demonstrate investment capacity to expand into B.C.
  • Must provide significant economic benefit to the province.

B.C. PNP Tech Initiative

Introduction of the Tech Draws

British Columbia regularly conducts Tech draws, extending invitations to eligible skilled workers to apply for a provincial nomination. This strategic initiative was initially launched as a pilot program in 2017 with the aim of mitigating the province's labor scarcity within the technology sector. Notably, in June 2021, the province solidified this program, transitioning it into a permanent fixture within its immigration framework.

Program Criteria and Eligibility

The B.C. PNP Tech program caters to skilled workers who possess a job offer in British Columbia within one of the 29 designated occupations. Crucially, the job offer must be for a minimum duration of one year, with at least 120 calendar days remaining at the time of application submission.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I immigrate to British Columbia?

   To immigrate to British Columbia, you have several options to consider:

   - Skills Immigration Stream
   - Express Entry British Columbia Stream
   - Entrepreneur Immigration

   Steps to Follow:

  • Determine the stream that best suits your situation and check your eligibility.
  • If necessary, complete the registration process via the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS).
  • Submit your application through BCPNP Online.
  • Secure a provincial nomination from the province of British Columbia.
  • Lodge a permanent residence application with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Candidates are required to register through the SIRS system on BCPNP Online. However, candidates applying through the International Post-Graduate Category or the Healthcare Professional Category are exempt from SIRS registration and can apply directly on BCPNP Online.
After registration, candidates receive a registration score and are entered into the pool. Those meeting specific criteria and having a score above a certain threshold receive an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination. Subsequently, candidates have 30 days to apply through BCPNP Online.
Successful candidates receiving a provincial nomination through the Express Entry system are required to accept the nomination.

2. Is it easy to immigrate to B.C.?

   The ease of immigrating to B.C. varies depending on individual circumstances. It's advisable to choose the most suitable stream based on your specific situation. For instance, if you have a job offer in a skilled occupation in B.C. and possess an Express Entry profile, you may consider applying for the Skilled Worker category under the Express Entry B.C. stream. If you need assistance in determining the best way to immigrate to B.C., feel free to contact us.

3. Who is eligible for BC PNP?

   The BC PNP is open to skilled workers, entry-level and semi-skilled workers, international graduates, international post-graduates, and healthcare professionals. While having an Express Entry profile is not mandatory, candidates typically require a job offer to be eligible for immigration, unless applying as an international post-graduate. Additionally, entrepreneurs have three options to start or acquire a business in B.C.

4. How can I obtain permanent residency in British Columbia?

To become a permanent resident in B.C., you must first determine your eligibility under the appropriate immigration stream and category. Subsequently, register with the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS) for B.C. to assess your job, education, location, language proficiency, and wage against provincial labor market needs. Registration can be completed through BCPNP Online. Candidates applying under the International Post-Graduate Category or the Healthcare Professional Category can directly apply through BCPNP Online without SIRS registration. Upon registration, candidates receive a registration score and are entered into a selection pool. Those meeting specific criteria and surpassing a certain threshold are invited to apply for a provincial nomination through a provincial draw. Successful candidates have 30 days to apply through BCPNP Online. If selected, candidates receive a provincial nomination through the Express Entry system and are required to accept it.

5. Does BC PNP guarantee PR?

   A provincial nomination offers the opportunity to apply for permanent residence with the Canadian government. Candidates receiving a provincial nomination through the Express Entry system are awarded an additional 600 Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) points, effectively guaranteeing an invitation to apply for permanent residence. While a provincial nomination enhances the likelihood of obtaining permanent residence, the final decision rests with IRCC, which conducts an admissibility check alongside reviewing the application.

6. What's it like to live in B.C.?

   British Columbia offers a high quality of life with a diverse and welcoming community. The province's climate varies, with Vancouver Island and the south coast experiencing mild temperatures and limited snowfall, while the central and northern regions have colder winters with significant snowfall.

7. Is it expensive to live in B.C.?

   The cost of living in B.C. varies depending on the region. The province provides a cost-of-living calculator to help assess expenses related to healthcare, housing, taxes, utilities, and transportation in different areas.

8. What is the climate like in B.C.?

   B.C.'s climate ranges from mild to colder temperatures depending on the region. Coastal areas experience mild winters with minimal snowfall, while central regions have warmer summers and colder winters. Northern B.C. experiences colder temperatures and longer winters with heavy snowfall.

9. Does British Columbia receive less snow compared to other regions of Canada?

   Yes, areas along the south coast, including Vancouver Island, experience milder winters with limited snowfall compared to other parts of Canada.

10. Is healthcare free in B.C.?

    Yes, for Canadian citizens and permanent residents residing in B.C., medical services covered by the Medical Service Plan (MSP) are free. This includes doctors' fees, diagnostic services, and supplementary services provided by other healthcare providers. For more information on B.C.'s MSP, visit the official website.