In March 2022, British Columbia's Ministry of Municipal Affairs announced changes to the BC Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Skills Immigration Stream. These changes are in response to the critical need or more healthcare workers and early childhood educators (ECE) in the province. Here's what you need to know about these changes to the BCPNP.

Overview of the BC PNP Program

Under the BC PNP, applicants who currently live in the province may be invited to apply for the provincial nominee program based on their individual attributes. Essentially, applicants are invited based on what skills and experience they can bring to BC.

Generally, candidates who meet BC's education, language proficiency, skilled work experience, and job offer requirements and who intend to live in BC may be invited to apply for the BC PNP based on the number of points they have.

But BC also conducts regular targeted draws for specific in-demand industries or occupations. The Tech Draw is one example of this. These draws often (but not always) have lower-than-usual points requirements.

Technology Remains a Priority Target in BC

There have been no changes to the BC PNP Tech target under the newly announced priority targets.

BC PNP's technology category has ensured priority access to in-demand tech sector workers since 2017. In fact, almost 30% of provincial nominees in BC in 2021 fell under the technology category. See more about the tech draw in BC here.

New Priority Immigration Targets: Healthcare Workers and Early Childhood Educators

Despite the growing need for workers in the care economy, workers in these occupations make up just 3% of BC's provincial nominees annually. However, the immense employer demand for workers in these positions and the incredible value they provide to BC's residents have resulted in BC making room to increase the number of provincial nominees in this category.

As a result of this new priority, healthcare workers in in-demand occupations (listed below) and early childhood educators will now be targeted by specific BC PNP draws, like those that have been taking place for tech workers over the past five years. The first priority Healthcare and ECE draw took place on March 14 in BC and invited more than 50 healthcare and ECE workers to apply for the BC PNP. 123 tech workers were also invited in a targeted draw.

What Does Priority Access Mean for Healthcare Workers and ECEs?

Priority access to the BC PNP does not guarantee that healthcare workers and ECEs will be eligible for BC's Provincial Nominee Program. There are still eligibility thresholds and points requirements that applicants must meet to be successful in receiving an invitation to apply.

Instead, priority access means healthcare workers and ECEs will benefit from direct-to-apply categories and targeted invitations that may have lower-than-usual points requirements. Applicants who fall under the healthcare and ECE NOCs have a better chance to receive an invitation to apply and to meet the assessment criteria for the BC PNP.

"We're taking steps to ensure the Provincial Nominee Program is meeting the needs of British Columbians today and into the future," said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Municipal Affairs. "By placing a greater focus on skilled workers in the care economy, we're helping attract talent from around the world committed to delivering the essential services we all rely on."

Additional Changes to the BC PNP

To meet the increasing demand for certain healthcare workers several additional changes have been implemented, effective March 10, 2022, including:

· Healthcare assistants and dental assistants are now eligible to apply for BC PNP's Entry Level and Semi-Skilled category.

· Targeted invitations to apply replaces the previous registration points system for high demand occupations in the Labour Market Outlook.

· The Health Authority category has replaced the Health Care Professional category. It is open to all occupations employed by a health authority. This change allows health authorities in BC to attract and retain talented workers in any occupation.

· The 'directly related experience' requirement under the Skilled Worker category has been replaced by a (comparable) requirement that the applicant has two years of skilled experience.

Target Occupations for Immigration: Healthcare Jobs in BC

Eligible foreign nationals qualified and experienced in the following in-demand healthcare positions will be given priority access to the BC PNP:

· Managers in health care (for skilled workers only, international graduates may not apply under this occupation).

· Nursing coordinators and supervisors

· Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses

· Specialist physicians

· General practitioners and family physicians

· Dentists

· Chiropractors

· Allied primary health practitioners

· Other professional occupations in health diagnosing and treating

· Pharmacists

· Dietitians and nutritionists

· Audiologists and speech-language pathologists

· Physiotherapists

· Occupational therapists

· Other professional occupations in therapy and assessment

· Medical laboratory technologists

· Medical laboratory technicians and pathologists' assistants

· Respiratory therapists, clinical perfusionists and cardiopulmonary technologists

· Medical radiation technologists

· Medical sonographers

· Cardiology technologists and electrophysical diagnostic technologists

· Other medical technologists and technicians (except dental health)

· Denturists

· Dental hygienists and dental therapists

· Dental technologists, technicians and laboratory assistants

· Practitioners of natural healing

· Licensed practical nurses

· Paramedical occupations

· Other technical occupations in therapy and assessment

· Dental assistants

· Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates

· Psychologists

· Social workers

· Family, marriage and other related counsellors

· Social and community service workers

Processing Times for BC PNP Programs

Foreign nationals working in the priority occupations in BC's care economy can expect their BC PNP application to be processed within three months.

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