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  So, you want to immigrate to Manitoba

The popularity of our Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program has not gone unnoticed by the world around us. First a major US paper wrote in praise of the MPNP and I, like so many others, continue to receive inquiries about immigration to Manitoba. There are skilled workers in Europe, in the Middle East, Africa, in the Philippines and other Asian countries, and even in countries like the United States who want to move to Canada, and especially to Manitoba.

The success of the provincial nominee program has become a draw for many but the sad reality is that not everyone can qualify. What immigration options are open to skilled workers abroad? The question is not new and is something that many readers know from their firsthand experience. Readers who have permanent resident status can breathe a collective sigh of relief because they already made it through the Canadian system. The road behind has become more difficult for the foreign workers who want to follow them to Manitoba. Their options are more limited. One way is to apply through the federal skilled worker application stream while the other is to apply first to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP).

Immigrating through the federal skilled worker stream

Skilled workers are selected as permanent residents based on their education, work experience, availability of family supports, knowledge of English and, or, French, settlement funds, and other categories that are shown to help them become economically established in Canada. For the federal program, applicants must either hold a valid arranged employment offer (AEO) or be a skilled worker who has a minimum of one year of continuous full time or equivalent part-time paid work experience in the last 10 years in one of 29 preferred occupations. You can see a list of these occupations in the federal skilled worker stream at

Workers are eligible to apply for an AEO if they are currently working in Canada and their employer has made them a permanent job offer, and their temporary work permit is still valid. Or, they may be workers abroad who do not have a valid work permit or have a work permit but the circumstances have changed.

In the case of the worker abroad, the offer is only valid if the Canadian employer has made an indeterminate job offer to hire them once they are accepted as a federal skilled worker, and if Human Resource and Development Canada (HRSDC) has issued a positive Arranged Employment Opinion.

Other applicants eligible for the federal program are those who meet the requirement for any of the 29 accepted occupations. The federal government has set a yearly cap of 20,000 for total skilled worker applications and a cap of 1,000 for any one of the 29 specific occupations.

It is important to note that the following occupations are now closed because the cap has been reached: NOC 0631 Restaurant and Food Services Manager, NOC 1122 Professional Occupations in Business Services in Management, NOC 3113 Dentists, NOC 3131 Pharmacists and NOC 3152 Registered Nurses. The restrictions on these should be lifted after June 30, 2011 when the first operational year is completed.

Immigrating through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program

The restrictions placed on federal skilled worker applications with a 20,000 cap stand in stark contrast to the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, which has it’s own target of over 5,000 nominations for 2011. Based on total population, the provincial target number is considerably higher than the federal targets and Manitoba actually dropped its restrictive Occupational Requirements List in early 2009. The provincial program also does not openly employ screening devices such as judging the occupations of applicants by Skill Type O (managerial) or Skill Type A (professional occupations) or B (technical) found in the federal Canadian National Occupational Classifications list. It is even possible for semi skilled or low skilled workers to apply to the provincial program and be nominated.

However, it is important to note that MPNP continues to screen applicants by age, education, work experience, English or French language proficiency, settlement funds, strength of connections to the province and their occupational demand. The applicant must be destined for Manitoba and demonstrate that they would be employable in the province. As a province, therefore, Manitoba is much more generous in terms of the application options, which far exceeds the federal preferred occupations list.

Applicants can qualify for one of the many priority processing streams: family related, employer direct, international student, employer direct, and strategic initiatives. Or, if they do not qualify under a priority stream, they can still apply under the general stream. The province does require applicants to meet the requirements of the individual streams and also to demonstrate, usually through the submission of language tests such at the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), that they have sufficient proficiency in English. They also have to show that they have sufficient settlement funds, in their own name in their home country or country of residence.

There are many similarities between the federal and provincial approaches to skilled worker immigration. It is important to remember that the MPNP assessment system was originally based on the federal model. The foreign workers who can qualify for either the federal or provincial application stream are fortunate to have extra choices. The primary difference between the federal route and the MPNP is the flexibility of the provincial program. Manitoba continues to lead the country in terms of options for skilled immigrant applicants. All serious applicants abroad should take note of what our province has to offer. Manitoba, and now I betray my personal bias, continues to be the best destination in Canada.

Michael Scott BA (Hon), MA, is a 30-year veteran of Canada Immigration and the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program who works as an immigration associate with R.B. Global Immigration Consultants Ltd. He can be reached at 838 Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg, (204) 783-7326 or (204) 227-0292. E-mail:

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