An Employer’s Overview of the Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program

What is the Ontario Provincial Nominee Program?

The Ontario Provincial Nominee Program (“OPNP”) is an employer-driven program which assists employers who are having difficulty filling  certain positions by facilitating the recruitment and retention of skilled foreign workers and international students in professional, managerial and skilled trade positions.

Under the two-stage process of the OPNP, an employer who wishes to hire a foreign worker or international student submits an application for the position they wish to fill. If the position is approved, the recruited employee then applies to Opportunities Ontario for a nomination certificate. If the application is approved, the individual, and his/her dependents, may apply at a Canadian Embassy or Consulate abroad for permanent residence.

Opportunities Ontario currently has a target of 1,000 nominations per year.

Who can be an Employer under the OPNP?

In order to be eligible to participate in the OPNP, the Ontario employer must:

  • be a corporation, limited partnership or sole proprietorship;
  • be actively in business for at least three years;
  • if located in the Greater Toronto Area:
    • have a minimum of $1,000,000 in gross revenue; and
    • a minimum of five full-time permanent employees;
  • if located outside of the Greater Toronto Area:
    • have a minimum of $500,000 in gross revenue; and
    • a minimum of three full-time permanent employees.

What Positions can be Filled?

General Category

The OPNP can be used to fill permanent, full-time positions which are categorized as  Skill Type O (managerial occupations) or Skill Level A (typically requiring a university education) or B (typically requiring college education or apprenticeship training) on the Canadian National Occupational Classification (NOC). This includes a requirement of two years of relevant work experience.

The position must meet the prevailing wage levels, be necessary to the operation of the company and not impact ongoing labour disputes or adversely affect the employment of Canadian citizens or permanent residents.  

The current information from the OPNP states that applications will be processed more quickly where an employer has first tried to recruit Canadian citizens or permanent residents. However, in practice the OPNP is requiring employers to show their recruitment efforts and employers are advised to act accordingly.

International Student Category

The OPNP can be used to recruit international students on the same basis as the general category with a couple of key differences:

  • the position must meet the entry level wage, rather than the prevailing wage, for the occupation;
  • the student need not have two years of relevant work experience; and
  • the student must graduate from a Canadian post-secondary institution with an eligible degree or diploma.

How Many Positions can be Filled?

An employer in the GTA can submit one application for every five employees while an employer outside of the GTA can submit one application for every three employees it employs, to a maximum of 20 positions. There are exceptions for the Health and Education sectors where, due to recognized shortages, there is no limit on the number of positions which can be filled under the OPNP.

Processing Fees

The nominee application fee for a non-GTA foreign worker is $1,500, the nominee application fee for a GTA foreign worker is $2,000, and the nominee application fee for all international students is $1,500.

Processing Times

Opportunities Ontario is currently advising that its current processing target is to process complete employer application packages within 90 days, on a first-come-first-served basis. Likewise, complete nominee employee application packages will be processed within 90 days, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Previously Approved Employers

Employers who have been previously approved under the OPNP may use a streamlined process for future applications. Supporting documents need not be re-submitted unless the employer has undergone changes which might affect its eligibility under the program.

For application forms visit www.ontario.ca/immigration.

For additional information or to arrange for a consultation, contact Catherine Longo or Henry Chang.

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