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Ontario businesses looking to recruit top talent may find themselves stalled by a domestic labour shortage in particular fields. As a result, they may have to look to the international candidate pool to find the right candidates. Once these future employees have been identified, figuring out how to facilitate their immigration to Ontario and get them settled in Canada, with as few snags as possible, can be stressful for both employers and candidates.

The process for securing permanent Canadian residency can sometimes be several years long and interfere with employee retention.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) helps Ontario businesses recruit top international talent, and allows foreign workers, international students, and others with the right skills, to apply for a nomination for permanent residence in Ontario. It is administered by the Ontario government in collaboration with the federal government through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

What are the OINP Categories?

The Ontario Nominee Program is divided into three categories:

  • Employer Job Offer, for candidates with a full-time and permanent job offer from an Ontario employer
  • Human Capital, for recent graduates with a Master’s or PhD from an Ontario university, and for candidates with the experience and skills to qualify for Express Entry
  • Business, for entrepreneurs from outside of Canada who wish to start a new business or buy an existing business in Ontario

Each of these categories is an umbrella for individual program streams. This blog will focus on the Employer Job Offer category, but information about the Human Capital and Business categories can be found on the provincial government’s OINP website.

Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)

How Does the Employer Job Offer Category Work?

The Employer Job Offer Category has three streams:

  • Foreign Worker, for workers who have a job offer in one of the specified groups: management jobs; professional jobs that call for a degree from a university; or technical jobs and skilled trades that call for a college diploma or training as an apprentice
  • International Student, for foreign students who have a job offer in one of the specified groups: management jobs; professional jobs that call for a degree from a university; or technical jobs and skilled trades that call for a college diploma or training as an apprentice
  • In-Demand Skills, for foreign workers with a job offer in specific in-demand areas, such as agriculture, construction, trucking, or personal support work

What are the Eligibility Criteria for the Employer Job Offer Category?

All three streams under the Employer Job Offer category have the following criteria.

Job Offers must be for full-time and permanent positions that are necessary to the employer’s continuing or growing business activity and are located primarily in Ontario.

The Candidate must have a valid license or authorization, if applicable to the position, as well as an intention to live in Ontario, and legal status in Canada (e.g. work permit) if applying from within Canada. Candidates can be within or outside of Canada.

The Employer must have been in active business for at least three years, have business premises in Ontario, and have no outstanding orders against them under the Ontario Employment Standards Act or the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Employers must also:

  • Demonstrate that effort was made to recruit a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident prior to offering the position to a foreign worker
  • Meet minimum annual revenue requirements: $1M for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and $500K for outside of the GTA
  • Meet minimum requirements for the number of full-time employees who are Canadian citizens / permanent residents at the location where the candidate will work: five for the GTA and three for outside the GTA
  • Fill out the Employer Form and provide supporting documents if required

What are the Eligibility Criteria for Specific Streams?

Foreign Worker Stream – Eligibility

As well as the general eligibility requirements outlined above, the Foreign Worker Stream has the following requirements.

The wage offered must be at or higher than the median wage level for that occupation in the specific region of Ontario where the employee will work (see Employer’s Guide on how to determine this). This does not apply if the wage is specified by a collective agreement with a union.

The candidate must have at least two years of full-time (or the equivalent in part-time) work experience in the same occupation as the job offer, acquired within the past five years. In lieu of the above experience, the candidate can have a license or other authorization for the job that he or she has been offered.

International Student Stream – Eligibility

For the International Student Stream, the pay of the job offered must meet or be higher than the low wage level, for that occupation, in the specific region of Ontario where the candidate will be working.

Candidates also must have received a degree or diploma from a Canadian institution. This degree should have taken at least two years of full-time study to complete or at least one year if a completed degree was required in order to be admitted into the program. More than half of the candidate’s studies must have been completed in Canada.

In-Demand Skills Stream – Eligibility

Job offers for this stream must meet or be higher than the median wage level, for that occupation, in the specific region of Ontario where the employee will be working.

Candidates must have at least nine months of full-time (or the equivalent in part-time) paid work experience in Ontario, in the same occupation (NOC code) as the job offer. They must also communicate in either English or French at a Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) level 4 or higher and possess a Canadian high school diploma or its foreign equivalent.

Additionally, candidates must have enough money to support themselves and dependent family members in Canada after immigration to Ontario. They can meet this requirement through earnings from the offered job.

What is the Application Process for the Ontario Nominee Program?

For all program categories, international applicants must ensure they meet all mandatory requirements and then apply online to be nominated by the Ontario government (at a cost of $1,500-$3,500, depending on the category). Application approval may take 30-90 days.

If an application is approved, the next step is for the candidate to apply for permanent residence through IRCC, who makes the final decision on who becomes a permanent resident.

How Can I Help My Candidate Get Residency?

Employers can help candidates make sure they meet all requirements for their specific OINP stream, and they should fill out the Employer’s Form so that this can be submitted with the candidate’s application.

Employers should keep an eye on dates, leaving time for application submission and approval.

In order for an application to be approved, the job offer must be effective the date that the candidate is nominated by the OINP  (if already working for the employer), or on the date the candidate obtains a work permit and begins working in the approved position.

Mentor Works does not provide consulting or writing services for this program. Organizations who need support can reach out to the OINP Business Immigration Services team, which helps businesses navigate the immigration system.

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Sunnie holds a PhD in English from Dalhousie University, and has published her writing in several academic journals, as well as in magazines, newspapers, and blogs. She combines years of experience as a professor in English with practical experience in the private sector as a trainer in writing and analytical thinking.

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