VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. government is taking steps to bring more skilled and business immigrants into its province by expanding the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
“Both the recent Asia Pacific Trade Council report on China and Hong Kong and the report from the B.C. Competition Council recommended expanding the PNP to attract more immigrants to B.C.,” stated Colin Hansen, Minister of Economic Development. “We’re responding by adding six new staff members to the program with a goal of increasing our nominees by 41% this year.”
The expansion can be viewed as good news for trucking companies looking to address the driver shortage by attracting immigrant drivers. Originally introduced to address the shortage of registered nurses in B.C., the B.C. PNP has expanded into a number of different categories with two main streams: business categories and strategic occupations.
The strategic occupations category of the PNP allows the province to select highly skilled immigrants to fill critical labour shortages in the province.
A person nominated under the program may apply for a permanent resident visa through Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) under the provincial nominee category. The PNP can be used as a tool if the employer is looking to recruit or retain an international worker with specialized skills for a position which has been unable to be filled with a permanent resident.
The expedited processing time offered through the PNP, in partnership with CIC, will see the individual landed in approximately 6 months rather than the regular 18 to 24 months it may take when applying directly to CIC.
Last year, 750 skilled workers moved to B.C. from around the world and since the program’s launch in March 2001, more than 1,750 skilled and business immigrants plus their dependents have made B.C. their home through the PNP.
“We’ve got a very hot economy right now which has B.C. facing major skilled worker shortages in virtually every sector and every region of the province,” said John Winter, president/CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. “It is most encouraging to see the province stepping up its efforts behind an already proven program like PNP at a time when it’s most needed.”
For more information on the B.C. Provincial Nominee Program, visit www.gov.bc.ca/ecdev.
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