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Recent changes to Ontario’s provincial nominee program

Provincial Nominee Programs (“PNPs”) are established under Section 87(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR”). Under a typical PNP, individuals nominated by the province, together with their spouse and dependent children, are eligible to apply for Canadian permanence through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (“CIC”) under the Provincial Nominee Class. CIC gives higher priority to the Provincial Nominee Class, which means that PNP applicants usually acquire Canadian permanent residence more quickly than under other categories, such as the Federal Skilled Worker Class.

During the past few months, the Province of Ontario has announced several changes to the International Student Category of Opportunities Ontario, the province’s PNP. Specifically, it has announced the creation of the International PhD Graduate Stream and the Pilot International Masters Graduate Stream. Each of these streams is described in greater detail below.

International PhD graduate stream

On April 21, 2010, Opportunities Ontario announced that International PhD graduates who have graduated from a publicly funded Ontario university will now be permitted to apply without a job offer. Opportunities Ontario has created the International PhD Graduate Stream for this purpose.

In order to apply to Opportunities Ontario as an international PhD graduate in Ontario, students must:

  1. Have graduated from an existing PhD program at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario or have successfully completed all degree requirements for the program (i.e completion of course work and successfully defended their thesis and are awaiting the granting of their degree);
  2. Have completed at least two years of their PhD studies at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario;
  3. Apply within two years of the date on which their PhD degree was granted; and
  4. Have legal status, if the international PhD graduate applicant is in Canada.

International students subsidized through the Canadian International Development Agency grants or home country scholarship with return obligations will not be eligible for Opportunities Ontario unless such obligations have been fulfilled. Ontario international PhD students may apply for the program from within Canada or from overseas.

Pilot program for international masters graduates

On June 14, 2010, Opportunities Ontario announced a new pilot program for Ontario graduates holding Masters degrees. International students who have graduated from a publicly funded Ontario university with a Masters degree can now apply for permanent residence without a job offer under the Pilot International Masters Graduate Stream.

In order to apply to Opportunities Ontario as an international Masters graduate in Ontario, students must:

  1. Intend to live and work in Ontario;
  2. Have graduated from an existing Masters program at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario;
  3. Have completed a minimum of one academic year degree program, while studying on a full-time basis;
  4. Apply within two years of the date on which their Masters degree was granted, or in the alternative, during the last semester of completing their degree;
  5. Currently be residing in Ontario;
  6. Have legal status in Canada (i.e. study permit, work permit, temporary resident visa);
  7. Demonstrate high official language proficiency (For English language proficiency – IELTS – General test with a minimum score of 7 or higher) (For French language proficiency – TEF – with a minimum score of 5 or higher);
  8. Demonstrate a minimum level of savings/income to support themselves and their dependants; and
  9. Demonstrate at least one year of residence in Ontario in the past two years.

International students subsidized through the Canadian International Development Agency grants or home country scholarship with return obligations will not be eligible for Opportunities Ontario unless such obligations have been fulfilled.

Conclusion

These two new international student streams offer increased opportunities for recent graduates of Ontario universities who wish to permanently settle in the Province of Ontario. An indirect benefit of these streams to Ontario employers should be the larger talent pool of educated workers that will result therefrom.

Henry J. Chang
Blaney McMurtry LLP

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Henry J. Chang

Corporate immigration lawyer at Blaney McMurtry LLP
Henry J. Chang is a partner in the business immigration group of Blaney McMurtry LLP. A recognized authority in the field of United States and Canadian immigration law, Mr. Chang lectures extensively on the subject in both the United States and Canada. His written works have appeared in numerous nationally and internationally recognized legal publications, including Immigration Law and Procedure, which has been cited in over 300 federal court decisions. Read more
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