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Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program?

Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program (Opportunities Ontario) is an immigration program that supports Ontario employers by facilitating the immigration of managerial, professional and skilled foreign workers and international students needed to meet their human resource needs. This is helpful where employers are having difficulty finding the skilled workers they need.

Opportunities Ontario is employer-driven and has two categories: a General Category that will allow employers to recruit foreign workers, and an International Student Category that will allow employers to recruit international students.

The program enables the province of Ontario to nominate people for permanent resident status, and have their application fast-tracked by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). CIC will still perform important functions such as security checks on applicants. There is a different route and process for immigrants applying directly to the federal government.

What is Opportunities Ontario’s definition of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA)?

The GTA is the City of Toronto, Durham, Halton, York and Peel regions.

What are the fees?

Opportunities Ontario will charge a non-refundable processing fee, payable with each nominee application. The fee is $2,000 for General Category applicants who will be working for an employer located in the GTA and $1,500 for General Category applicants who will be working for an employer located outside the GTA. For employees of investors, the fee is $3,500. The fee for International Student Category applicants is $1,500. Please note that the fee is per application, not per person.

What is considered a permanent full-time job?

A full-time job consists of 1,560 hours of paid employment in a 12-month period. The following is not considered full-time work, even if workers are employed for 1,560 hours in a 12-month period:

  • Seasonal, cyclical or part-time employees regardless of their working hours.
  • Subcontractors or agency workers.
  • Employees who do not work on the company’s premises, such as employees who work from home, or employees who work in a ‘virtual’ location and serve the employer by telecommuting.

A permanent job offer is continuous employment in a position designated as permanent and which has no specified end date. Opportunities Ontario will consider one year renewable contracts for international students on a case-by-case basis.

If I am in Canada what should my status be to qualify for the program?

Prospective nominees are eligible to apply to the Opportunities Ontario program from within Canada if they have a:

  • Valid work permit;
  • Valid study permit;
  • Temporary resident visa, or
  • Valid passport from a visa exempt country showing their date of entry to Canada

What type of work qualifies for the two years of work experience I need as a foreign worker?

For work experience obtained in Canada, Opportunities Ontario will accept full-time work experience that is verifiable, relevant, paid and obtained with proper work authorization from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (e.g., work permit) within the most recent five years. Unpaid, unauthorized or volunteer experience will not be accepted. 

What diploma, degree or certificate programs are eligible for international students?

International students who have graduated from an eligible Canadian college or university with a minimum of a two-year diploma or degree program, obtained while studying on a full-time basis, can apply to Opportunities Ontario if they have a full-time permanent job offer. One-year post-graduate degree programs and certificate programs, which require a previous degree or diploma (which may have been obtained abroad), are also eligible. Note that part-time studies do not qualify. Preliminary or preparatory college certificate programs will not qualify. Skilled trade certificate programs and continuing education programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

How do I prove that I am or was authorized to study in Canada?

All students who apply to Opportunities Ontario must have a valid study permit, or if applying within two years of the time of graduation, proof of a previous study permit and/or current post-graduation work permit.

Does my field of study have to be related to the job offer?

No. International students were previously required to have a job offer related to their field of studies as part of the previous eligibility criteria. As of February 20, 2009, international students who wish to apply to Opportunities Ontario do not need to have the job offer relate to their field of study in Canada.

I am a foreign exchange student completing my PhD in Ontario. Can I qualify for nomination under the international student category for PhD graduates?

Yes, you may qualify for the program if you can demonstrate that you completed at least 2 years of study at a publicly funded Ontario university and the degree must also be granted by that university. If you have a return of service obligation then you will not be able to qualify.

I am an international student - through which stream should I apply?

If you are a PhD graduate from a publicly funded Ontario university, then you may qualify for the International PhD Graduate Stream. You do not require a job offer to be eligible to apply under this stream. If you are not a PhD graduate or if you are studying in another province or territory, and you have a full-time permanent job offer, you may qualify for the program under the International Student With Job Offer Stream.

I have recently graduated from a Masters program and I am studying for my PhD. Do I qualify for the Pilot International Masters Graduate Stream?

No. The Masters Graduate Stream is for individuals who have graduated or are in the last semester of an existing Masters program at an eligible publicly funded university in Ontario. In order to apply to Opportunities Ontario as an international Masters graduate, students must “intend to live and work” in Ontario and be ready to enter the labour market on a full time basis. It is not intended for international students who are continuing their studies.

I am in my last semester of Masters studies. Can I be still nominated?

As an international Masters student at a publicly-funded Ontario university, you can apply to Opportunities Ontario during your last semester of studies. However, you will need to complete all degree requirements before Opportunities Ontario: Provincial Nominee Program can nominate you for permanent residence.

Is IELTS Academic or TOEFL test results accepted as proof of English proficiency?

No. Opportunities Ontario accepts only IELTS General as proof of English proficiency.