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Home » Housing, Jobs, & Money

British Columbia jobs: Work permits, provincial nominee program, and other details

Submitted by on March 10, 2010 – 7:00 am3 Comments

Permanent resident cardIn 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.

Work Permits

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.

The work per­mit pro­gram is a Federal pro­gram, but B.C. also pro­vides lots of infor­ma­tion for peo­ple who are com­ing to the province as tem­po­rary for­eign workers.

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.

Permanent res­i­dence

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:

B.C. Fact Sheet

British Columbia Newcomers’ Guide to Resources and Services

B.C. Wage & Salary Survey

Living Abroad in Canada (the book)

Photo ©Alan Albert

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