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Federal and Provincial Skilled Worker Programs: Comparison of Immigration Fees and Processing Times


Posted April 20, 2022 9:00 a.m. EDT



The cost of applying to immigrate to Canada can be a factor in deciding which economic path to take.

In Canada, you always end up applying for permanent residency to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), because constitutionally, the federal government has the final say in immigration matters. However, you can also ask a province to respond to your application for permanent residence. If you successfully apply for a provincial pathway, you will obtain a Certificate of Nomination, or Quebec Selection Certificate from Quebec, to support your application for permanent residence with IRCC.

Although this option opens up an abundance of immigration options for you, it can be more expensive and time-consuming. On the other hand, provincial programs could open the doors to even more potential immigrants. They are tailored to open pathways to permanent residency for workers whose skills match regional labor market needs.

In this article, we will compare the costs of different economy class immigration programs. At the same time, weigh the pros and cons of immigrating through Express Entry versus provincial immigration.

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Skilled Worker Costs to Apply for IRCC Managed Programs

When you apply to immigrate to IRCC, you generally have to pay an application fee for yourself and for any dependents accompanying you to Canada, such as your spouse or common-law partner and your children. You must also pay a tax relating to the right of permanent residence for yourself and your partner. Dependent children are exempt from this tax.

Canadian immigration fees are increasing this year for most economic, family and humanitarian class applications. In 2020, IRCC increased the permanent residence fee to account for inflation for the first time since 2002. At that time, IRCC announced that it would increase the fee every two years to account for the inflation, which means that this year the fees should now increase. The next increase is expected to take place in 2024.

Effective April 30, fees for the following immigration programs will increase by approximately $40 more than the current cost of $1,325. Principal applicants and accompanying spouses will each need to pay $1,365 (all amounts in CAD) plus biometrics fees to apply:

Biometrics fees cost about $85 per person, or $175 for a family of two or more. To give an example of some possible total costs, a principal applicant applying to a program run by Express Entry could pay $1,450, including biometrics fees. A family of two could pay $2,905 for the same program. If they had a child, the fee could be around $3,135. Each dependent child will cost $230.

The application fees are different depending on the immigration program, but the fees for the right of permanent residence are always the same. Here is the list of fees for federal immigration programs in 2022.

Program Candidates Current fees New price April 30, 2022
Fees relating to the right of permanent residence Principal applicant and accompanying spouse or common-law partner $500 $515
Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Program and Quebec Skilled Workers, Atlantic Immigration Category and most economic pilots (rural, agri-food) Main applicant $825 $850
Accompanying spouse or common-law partner $825 $850
Accompanying dependent child $225 $230
Live-in Caregiver Program and Live-in Caregiver Pilot Projects (Child-in-Home Provider Pilot Project and Home Support Worker Pilot Project) Main applicant $550 $570
Accompanying spouse or common-law partner $550 $570
Accompanying dependent child $150 $155
Businesses (Federal and Quebec) Main applicant $1,575 $1,625
Accompanying spouse or common-law partner $825 $850
Accompanying dependent child $225 $230
Family reunification (spouses, partners and children; parents and grandparents; and other family members) Referral fees $75 $75
Sponsored Principal Applicant $475 $490
Sponsored dependent child $75 $75
Accompanying spouse or common-law partner $550 $570
Accompanying dependent child $150 $155
Protected persons Main applicant $550 $570
Accompanying spouse or common-law partner $550 $570
Accompanying dependent child $150 $155
Humanitarian and Compassionate / Public Policy Main applicant $550 $570
Accompanying spouse or common-law partner $550 $570
Accompanying dependent child $150 $155
License holders Main applicant $325 $335

Costs to apply for PCP and immigration to Quebec

In addition to the fees required to apply for immigration to the federal government, PNP and Quebec applicants often must pay an application fee in the province of their choice. For example, a single person wishing to immigrate to Ontario would pay $2,925 through a PNP, but around $1,450 through Express Entry.

There are now four PCPs that do not charge a fee to apply for provincial nominations: Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories and Yukon. Newfoundland and Labrador recently waived its fees in an effort to encourage newcomers to apply to immigrate to the province.

Skilled workers applying from other provinces can expect to pay between $250 and $1,500.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) + Quebec Application fees for the main applicant
Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) $500
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PCP) $1,150
Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) $500
New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NBNP) $250
Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program (NLPNP) $0
Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program (NSNP) $0
Northwest Territories Nominee Program (NTNP) $0
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) $1,500
Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PNP PEI) $300
Quebec $844
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) $350
Yukon Nominee Program (YPN) $0

Basic vs Enhanced PNPs

The difference between Basic and Enhanced PNPs depends on whether applicants have an Express Entry profile or not. Basic PCPs are managed by the provincial government. Enhanced PNPs are only open to Express Entry candidates.

Those who qualify for an enhanced PCP qualify for an Express Entry managed program such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP), Canadian Experience Class (CEC), or Federal Skilled Trades Program (FSTP).

The benefit of being in the Express Entry pool is the ability to apply for immigration directly to IRCC. Since IRCC has the final say on who gets permanent residency, applying for Express Entry is easier than applying for PNP. Whereas when you apply for a PCP, you first apply for a provincial nomination and then apply for permanent residency.

Express Entry is a points-based system used by the federal government to invite prospective immigrants to apply for permanent residency. Top-scoring candidates receive Invitations to Apply (ITA) in bi-weekly rounds of invitations. However, since the pandemic, IRCC often invites eligible candidates for the CEC or PNP class. IRCC has only invited PCP applicants since September 2021 and has not held a draw for FSWP applicants since December 2020.

In the past, a high-scoring Express Entry candidate might have declined an invitation to apply for a provincial nomination and just wait to get an Express Entry ITA to pay only one application fee. However, since the pause in the FSWP and CEC draws has impacted Canadian immigration plans around the world, the option of applying for an enhanced PCP has become more attractive.

Express Entry candidates who receive a provincial nomination receive an additional 600 points towards their Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score. This award effectively guarantees that they will receive an ITA and be able to apply for permanent residency.

Those who do not qualify for a program run by Express Entry may be able to apply for a province’s basic PNP. These immigration programs are managed by the provinces themselves. They usually take longer to process.

Comparison of processing times

According to April 19 processing times estimates, it takes IRCC 28 months to process basic PCPs and 22 months to process Express Entry PCPs. The estimated processing time for skilled workers in Quebec is now 31 months.

The processing standard for directly applying for Express Entry is six months, although the pandemic has slowed those processing times considerably. It currently takes IRCC 27 months to process FSWP applications and eight months to process CEC applications. FSTP applicants are looking at a wait time of 37 months.

Conclusion

Should you apply directly to a federal or provincial program? Ultimately, your decision should be based on which streams you qualify for and which ones you think offer you the best chance of obtaining permanent residency. If you qualify for Express Entry, it is beneficial to upload a profile because, in addition to being considered for an ITA by IRCC, you will also be considered by provinces looking to invite candidates to apply for their PCP.

This year, Canada aims to welcome 83,500 PNP candidates, in line with the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan. This figure is expected to increase to 93,000 by 2024. IRCC projects that 55,900 immigrants will go through Express Entry this year, but by 2024 the number of Express Entry immigrants is expected to increase to 111,500.

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