Details have been published on the impact of COVID-19 on applications submitted under the Ontario Express Entry, Employer Job Offer, and Entrepreneur streams.
Ontario has released an update related to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on several key streams of its Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Ontario is Canada’s largest province with nearly 14.5 million people. It attracted 45 per cent of new permanent resident visa holders that arrived to Canada in 2019.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) is a popular pathway for immigration candidates as Ontario issued a record-breaking 7,350 provincial nominations last year. The province has held seven draws so far in 2020 including three OINP draws since the start of the pandemic.

The OINP will continue to process applications and issue nominations as well as notifications of interest (NOIs) under its Express Entry streams, despite special coronavirus measures being in place.

The province is asking applicants to continue with their submission process even if they are unable to obtain required supporting documents, though they are asked to include a detailed explanation letter explaining the reasons for the missing information.

Employers should also keep in mind that candidates in the Employer Job Offer category, which includes foreign workers, international students and in-demand skills candidates, are still required to have a permanent, full-time job offer approved by the OINP.

Canada immigration visas fell by 26% in March 2020

Applications submitted to the OINP will be assessed upon confirmation of employment

Applicants and employers are required to promptly inform the OINP of any significant changes to their application, including changes in employment positions at the basis of job offer streams.

The OINP intends to contact all employers to confirm that job offers, or positions continue to meet program criteria. Applications will be processed depending on the response given by employers about the status of the employment.

The OINP will continue to process applications if employers indicate that there has been no change in position. If an applicant’s employment has been affected by a temporary layoff, such as an extended start date or reduced hours of work, the application will be held for up to 90 days. If the position has been eliminated or if the employer has terminated the employment, the application will be considered incomplete and the application fee will be refunded.

The OINP will continue to support those who received provincial nominations but are affected by layoffs.

Candidates and employers are asked to notify the OINP of any changes to their approved employment positions. The conditions of employment must remain consistent throughout the period of appointment or until they obtain permanent residence. These conditions include:

  • the employer
  • job title and duties
  • salary
  • work shift
  • working area

Approval of the nominee’s employment could be revoked if conditions or restrictions are not met and employment has been terminated.

Candidates whose job offers have been withdrawn or who have lost their jobs are requested to inform the OINP.

The OINP will continue to support the nomination of candidates whose employment has been affected by a temporary layoff related to COVID-19 if they continue to meet the criteria of the program.

In the event of a permanent layoff, nominees will be given 90 days to obtain support from another employer and will be given the opportunity to submit a new application to the OINP.

OINP Entrepreneur Stream applications

Those applicants who have received an invitation to apply under the OINP Entrepreneur Stream will receive a temporary extension of 90 days and will be contacted by e-mail.

In addition, applicants are asked to contact the OINP if they have already submitted a full application under the Entrepreneur Stream and are encountering difficulties such as:

  • delays in obtaining information relating to the follow-up of your application
  • temporary closures, suspension or substantial changes in business activities
  • temporarily inability to meet hiring or employer requirements

According to the May 11 program update, “No application will be denied, and no approvals will be cancelled without notifying the applicant and employer.” The OINP will review responses to these notices before making a final decision.

On March 17, 2020, the Ontario government declared a state of emergency to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of Ontarians. This state of emergency was extended on April 14 and remains in effect, although the province has recently begun to take steps to re-open its economy following a decline in its COVID-19 growth rate.

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