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Ottawa Ontario is one of many cities that you can immigrate to through the OINP. Picture of the Ottawa skyline with the Parliament Buildings in the background.
Ottawa is the capital of Canada and located in the province of Ontario

Ontario is a popular choice for immigration to Canada. In fact, it is also known as one of the big three immigration provinces for permanent residents, followed by British Columbia, and Quebec. Together these three provinces represent the majority of arrivals in Canada. So if you’re thinking of making Ontario your new home, find out more about OINP pathways.

What is the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)?

The OINP is a Government of Ontario program that provides permanent residence to selected applicants. The goal of this program is to help Ontario employers meet labour market shortages that exist in the province. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) works in partnership with the Ontario government to run this vital program. 

The OINP nominates the people who meet the program requirements for permanent residence. However, IRCC makes the final decision to approve permanent residence applications.

What is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)?

Each province has a PNP (except for Quebec). These programs are for workers who have the skills, education, and work experience to contribute to the economy of a province or territory, and who want to:

  • Live in the specific province
  • Become a permanent resident of Canada.

As well, each province has its own unique requirements. So provinces will target certain groups such as students, business people, skilled workers, or semi-skilled workers based on their needs. The OINP is the Provincial Nominee Program for Ontario. 

A Closer Look at Ontario

Before learning more about the OINP, it’s helpful to take a closer look at Ontario, Canada’s largest province. Located within Central Canada, it borders Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay and James Bay to the north, Quebec to the east, the United States to the south. Ontario also borders the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater lake system in the world.

Map of Ontario and provincial borders
Ontario borders Manitoba, Quebec, James Bay, and the United States

Ontario’s population is greater than 14 million and growing. In fact, it is home to 40% of Canada’s population. It’s also home to Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, and Toronto which is the provincial capital. Toronto is also Canada’s largest city. 

The province is also divided into sub-regions that include Eastern Ontario, Northern Ontario, Southwestern Ontario, and Rural Ontario.  In addition to Toronto and Ottawa, there are several large cities within the province that have populations of greater than 300,000 such as:

The greatest population growth has mainly been in southern Ontario within the area known as the “Golden Horseshoe”  This includes the area along the shores of  Lake Ontario from Oshawa to St. Catharines and includes the Greater Toronto Area and the City of Hamilton. Other important urban areas include: 

  • Guelph

Ontario’s Economy

Ontario is Canada’s leading manufacturing province with a rapidly growing technology base. These are just a few of the innovative industries that drive economic growth: 

Aerospace: over 200 firms employing more than 44,000 direct and indirect people

Automotive: 300+ companies work in connected and autonomous development and smart technology

Financial Services: employs about 365,000 people in financial services firms

Cybersecurity: Ontario has cybersecurity hubs in Toronto, Waterloo Region, and Ottawa. And according to Invest Ontario, it also has the 2nd largest IT cluster in North America.

Cleantech: Interested in being at the forefront of environmental progress? Ontario has the largest cleantech sector in Canada and employs more than 134,000 employees

With a fast-growing economy, attracting skilled talent from around the world is a priority. So, if you have skills in many of the in-demand jobs, the OINP may appeal to you.

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Three Ways to Qualify for the OINP

If Ontario sounds interesting to you, there are three ways that you may qualify for the OINP.

1. OINP Employer Job Offer Category:

This is for workers who have a permanent job offer from an Ontario employer. The category has three streams that have an expression of interest (EOI) system.

  • International Student stream: for international students with a job offer in Ontario. Find out if you are eligible to apply here. This stream is for recent graduates in Ontario.
  • In-Demand Skills Stream: for foreign workers in an in-demand occupation such as construction, trucking, agriculture, and personal support workers with a job offer in Ontario. Find out if you are eligible to apply for this OINP stream here

2. Human Capital Category:

This category is for workers with valuable work experience, education, language skills, and a profile in Canada’s Express Entry system. Graduate students can also qualify for this category. Also, there are two sub-categories:

International Graduate Streams:

The international graduate streams include both the Master’s Graduate Stream and the PhD Graduate Stream. These streams allow graduates with an Ontario master’s degree or PhD to apply for an OINP nomination.

Ontario Express Entry Streams:

The following three streams operate through the federal government’s Express Entry System. To qualify for Ontario’s Express Entry streams, you must receive a notification of interest from Ontario and have a current profile. 

3. Business Category:

This is for entrepreneurs who want to start a new or buy an existing business in Ontario.

Once you set up your business, you and up to one foreign nation business partner, have the chance to be nominated by the OINP for permanent residency. Learn more about the OINP Entrepreneur Stream.

What is an Expression of Interest (EOI)?

An expression of interest informs the OINP that you would like to be invited to apply for permanent residency in Ontario. As mentioned above, you can only apply to some of these streams if the OINP invites you to apply. So, an important first step is to register an EOI. When you register an EOI, it allows the OINP to gather information about your:

  • Education level
  • Language
  • Skills and work experience
  • Attributes that match the province’s labour market needs, and
  • Other important information. 

Ontario launched the EOI system in 2021 to manage the high demand for the OINP. And because Ontario is such a popular destination, the EOI system avoids the first-come-first-served model. Learn more about how to register an OINP expression of interest.

What Happens After I Register an EOI for the OINP?

Once you register your EOI, your profile goes into a selection pool and your answers are scored. The OINP will notify you if you are invited to apply for the provincial nomination. But, if you receive an invitation it does not mean you get the provincial nomination. You will still have to meet the eligibility requirements of the stream that you are applying to. So be sure to check the requirements of the steam that you’re interested in.

Ontario is a popular immigration choice. And with the OINP, there are many streams that could lead you to this vibrant and prosperous province.

For more information, tools, and free webinars about living in Canada visit our Settling in Canada resource page. We’ll help you to settle in Canada successfully!