Work Permit versus PNP

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We quite frequently receive questions from forum members who want to know if it would be better to fast-track their permanent resident (PR) status via a temporary work permit (TWP) or via a Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

These two approaches are similar, but there are a few differences. Which one would be better depends on the province in which the applicant wants to settle, what his/her occupation is, and a couple of other factors.

Before you read this article, you need to understand how the temporary work permit and Provincial Nominee Program processes work. If you have not already done so, please read the Wiki articles on these topics.

Common elements

Each approach -- either upgrading from a TWP to PR or applying for PNP -- involves a three-step process:

(1) Find an employer who will offer you a job.

(2) Apply for permission to work in Canada temporarily.

(3) Apply for permission to live in Canada permanently.

Although in the case of a PNP application the flow from step 2 to step 3 is more seamless, in practical terms both kinds of applications incorporate these steps.

Another common element is that both the temporary work permit process and the PNP process are designed to make it easier for Canadian employers to hire foreign workers when people who belong to a certain occupation are in short supply in a given region of Canada.

Advantages of PNP

In provinces in which there are long waiting periods for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO), you generally can be in a job and working more quickly if you apply for PNP.

This is especially true of Alberta and British Columbia, where the waiting time for an LMO tends to be long.

Disadvantages of PNP

In some provinces, like Alberta, the employer has to submit a business case to the PNP. Only after the PNP has accepted the employer's business case can the employer offer jobs to foreign workers.

In the provinces whose PNPs operate on this basis, it tends to be larger companies that go to the effort of submitting business cases to the PNP.

If you want to go to a province whose PNP is designed like that, and if you have found a small company that wants to hire you, it may be more effective to apply for an LMO and a temporary work permit (TWP).

But note that each PNP is different, because each province has designed its PNP to meet its own needs. It is imperative to find out the rules of the specific PNP to which you want to apply.

A disadvantage of PNPs is that they have very small annual quotas, ranging from a few hundred spots to a couple of thousand, depending on the province. Most provinces meet their quotas in the first half of the year, some in the first few months. Thus, if you are applying in the second or third quarter of the year, there is a possibility that your PNP application will be rejected. In that case a two to three month wait for an LMO may not look bad by comparison.

Other relevant information

Work Permit : Standalone vs PNP