British Columbia jobs: Work permits, provincial nominee program, and other details
In our recent post, British Columbia jobs and where to find them, we reported on job opportunities in B.C. and on lots of job-hunting resources.
Today, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty — paperwork.
The first decision you should make is: Do you expect to work in British Columbia temporarily or longer-term? This decision will affect your work permit or visa options.
To work in British Columbia on a temporary basis, you can apply for a work permit.
You must already have a job offer from a Canadian employer before you can submit a work permit application. Your employer will generally help you through the work permit application process.
Working holiday visas
If you’re between the ages of 18 and 35, and you want to work in B.C. for up to a year, consider the working holiday visa.
With a working holiday visa, you’re granted an open work permit for 12 months. That means you don’t have to have a job before you arrive in Canada, and you can look for a job in almost any field.
Check to see if your home country participates in the working holiday visa program. Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom are among the participating countries.
If you’re from the U.S. and you’re interested in a Canadian working holiday, the program is slightly different. It’s called SWAP, and you must be a full-time student at (or recent graduate of) a U.S. college or univeristy. Get more details from BUNAC or Travel Cuts.
Also check the age requirements for your home country; some countries limit the working holiday visa to people under age 30, rather than 35.
Suppose you know that you want to relocate to British Columbia — not just temporarily but for the forseable future. Then apply for Canadian permanent resident status.
You can apply for permanent resident status under several Federal programs, including the Federal skilled worker class, the Federal business immigrant class, and the Federal Canadian experience class. You don’t have to have a job (or job offer) in Canada to apply under these Federal programs, but it helps.
However, if you qualify to apply for permanent resident status under the B.C. provincial nominee program (PNP), your application will be processed much more quickly. In most cases, you should receive a decision on your PNP application within 8 – 12 months, rather than the 15– to 24-month minimum common with Federal permanent residence applications.
To apply under B.C.‘s provincial nominee program, you must have a job offer from a B.C. employer AND the type of work you do generally must be classified as a “skilled worker” position, including managers, technologists, and a variety of skilled trades. B.C. is also actively recruiting health professionals, such as doctors and registered nurses. B.C. offers special consideration to international graduates of a recognized B.C. post-secondary institution, too, as long as you’ve graduated within the last two years.
If your job is classified as entry level or “semi-skilled,” though, don’t give up. Until August 2011, B.C. is running a pilot provincial nominee program for entry level and semi-skilled workers.
To apply under this pilot program, you must have been working in B.C. for at least nine months in one of several designated industries: tourism and hospitality, food processing, or long-haul trucking. These industries have been experiencing severe labor shortages, so if you’ve been working as a hotel front desk clerk, a tour guide, or a bartender, for example, you may qualify.
Applying for permanent resident status isn’t a decision to take lightly, since the application process alone requires a major time commitment.
Note that once you become a Canadian permanent resident, it doesn’t mean that you must live in Canada permanently. However, to maintain your resident status, you have to live in Canada for at least two of every five years.
Need more information?
Complicated, isn’t it? At least the B.C. government offers lots of online information for potential new residents at WelcomeBC.ca. Other good resources include:
Photo ©Alan Albert