PNPs for International Students

It is no secret that Canada relies on skilled immigrants to fill key positions in the workforce. Different provinces, however, have different needs, and so there is a great variety of Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) throughout the country. It should come as no surprise that many of these programs target international students: resourceful, already in the country, receiving a Canadian education and ready to enter the workforce in skilled positions – international students are quite a catch. 


This blog entry will briefly explain what PNPs are and how they work, as well as list some of the most popular PNPs for international students throughout the country.


What are PNPs?

Immigration to Canada only really happens through the federal government. Canadian provinces and territories, however, have agreements in place with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. These agreements allow provinces and territories to conduct their own recruitment of foreign nationals via provincial nominee programs. This does not mean provinces and territories control who can move where in Canada, but it grants them the ability to nominate candidates for permanent residence. Since PNPs exist so that provinces and territories can prioritize foreign nationals that would positively affect their individual economic needs, a candidate may only apply to a PNP if they have a real intention of settling in that province or territory.

How do they work?

Some PNPs are designed to work with the Express Entry system. When an Express Entry profile is created, you or your representative have the option to indicate interest in specific provinces or territories. This may lead to the receiving of a notification of interest, after which you may apply to a specific program to receive a nomination. A nominated candidate is awarded up to six hundred (600) points in the comprehensive ranking system (CRS), essentially guaranteeing the receipt of an invitation to apply. 

Some Provincial Nominee programs do not require the receipt of a notification of interest, and can be applied to directly, even before the creation of your profile.  

There are also PNPs that do not work through the Express Entry system. You or your representative can apply to these programs directly and, once nominated, a paper-based permanent residency application may be submitted. Paper-based PNPs may involve longer processing times than their Express Entry counterparts. 

PNPs Targeting International Students


Vancouver, British Columbia

Express Entry BC (EEBC) or Skilled Immigration (SI) – International Graduate


This program from BC is open to candidates who have completed their education at a college or university anywhere in Canada within the last three (3) years. Candidates must also have a valid job offer from a BC employer for a full-time, permanent occupation classified under Skill Type 0 or Skill Levels A or B of the NOC. This program is available under both the non-Express Entry and Express Entry streams of the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP).


Express Entry BC (EEBC) or Skilled Immigration (SI) – International Post-Graduate

This program focuses on graduates from master’s degree and PhD programs in the fields of natural, applied or health sciences. This program is also available under both non-Express Entry and Express Entry based streams. Unlike the International Graduate program, however, candidates do not need a job offer to apply.



Ottawa, Ontario

Employer Job Offer: International Student Stream


This program allows recent graduates with a valid job offer to apply for a provincial nomination. The job offer must be from an Ontario employer for a full-time, permanent occupation classified under Skill Type 0 or Skill Levels A or B of the NOC. The offer must also be for a position that is urgently necessary for your employer. To qualify, students must have graduated from a program in Canada that takes at least two (2) years of full-time study to complete, or one (1) year if the program requires a completed degree as an admission requirement.


Masters and PhD Graduate Streams

These programs allow foreign nationals to apply for a nomination within two (2) years of earning their PhD or master’s degree in Ontario. To qualify, candidates must have lived in Ontario for at least one (1) year in the two (2) years before the application.



Red River, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The province’s International Education Stream (IES) consists of three pathways offered to international graduates whose skills could contribute to Manitoba’s economy:


Career Employment Pathway 

This program targets recent post-secondary graduates from a designated learning institution in Manitoba. To qualify, the program must have taken at least one (1) year of full-time study to complete, and must have been completed in the last three (3) years before the application. Candidates must also have a valid job offer for an in-demand occupation. 

Graduate Internship Pathway

Aimed at recent graduates of master’s degree or PhD programs in Manitoba, candidates may qualify for this program if they graduated within the last three (3) years and if they have completed a Mitacs internship, in their Accelerate or Elevate program.

Student Entrepreneur Pathway

This program focuses on foregin nationals with at least six (6) months of experience in operating a business in Manitoba while on a valid work permit. Candidates must be recent graduates from a post-secondary program in Manitoba lasting at least two (2) years, and must be aged between twenty-one (21) and thirty-five (35) years.



(New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island)

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Graduates from a post-secondary institution in one of the four Atlantic provinces, from a program lasting two (2) years or longer and with a qualifying job offer can apply to the relatively new Atlantic Immigration Program. This is a federal program, rather than a PNP, which means qualifying candidates can apply for permanent residence right away. International students at an Atlantic province may be able to find resources on each province’s website to help them find a qualifying job offer.

For more information on which immigration option is best for you and your business, or for assistance designing your longer-term immigration strategy, reach out to me directly through my CONTACT page.  We can set up a consultation to find the immigration option that works best for your specific needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post were accurate at the time of publication. Changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact the accuracy of the information provided above. This blog post is not updated on a regular basis.

Co-written by Lucas Wynheart and Rebecca Tripp

Originally posted on April 26, 2022

Photos by Canva

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