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Federal Skilled Worker Programs Vs. Provincial Programs

Updated on 05 April, 2024

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

Before discussing the federal skilled worker vs. provincial nominee debate, it is essential to highlight the benefits of immigrating to Canada. Several reports have ranked Canada as one of the best countries for global immigration, offering excellent job opportunities for skilled workers. Canada has record-low unemployment figures and higher job vacancies than many other countries. It also offers political stability, safety, cosmopolitanism, free healthcare, and a great education. Canada has innumerable immigration programs on offer while providing settlement services for immigrants.


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Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program

The Canadian federal skilled worker program is for those who have chosen to immigrate to the country due to their specific skill-sets and work experience. Under the Canadian federal skilled worker program, applications must be made via Express Entry. 

Eligibility Criteria for Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) Program

Here are the eligibility criteria for applying: 

  • Federal skilled workers should have job offers or eligibility to work in the country professionally
  • They should have proof of funds for supporting themselves and their dependents after arrival
  • A minimum of one year of full-time work experience is mandatory 
  • They should meet minimum French/English language requirements with a post-secondary diploma, certificate, or degree
  • Work experience should come under Skill Level B, Skill Level A, or Skill Type 0 on the National Occupation Classification (NOC). 
  • Applicants need 67 points to attain eligibility. Points are based on education, language abilities, age, work experience, whether the candidate has employment in the country, and adaptability. 

How to Apply for the FSW Program?

The express entry vs. provincial nominee is another debated topic. However, the question is PNP better or express entry, can only be answered when we closely analyze both application procedures. 

Here are the application steps to be followed in the FSW program: 

  1. Submission of Documents for Express Entry. 
  2. Profile- Travel papers/passport, language test scores, proof of educational qualifications, and a report for immigration. You also need to furnish (wherever applicable and available) your provincial immigration nomination, written employment offer in Canada, work experience, certificate of trade occupation qualification issued by a Canadian territory/province, and your proof of funds. 
  3. Permanent Residence Applications- If invited to apply, you will have to provide your proof of funds, birth certificate, police certificate, medical examination documents, etc. You will also require various other forms, including the marriage, divorce, death, adoption certificates, and the common-law union or representative forms for dependents. 
  4. Additional Documentation- Proof of relationship with Canadian relative, digital photographs, and other relevant documents. 
  5. Fill up the Express Entry form after creating the profile. 
  6. If you are eligible, then you will be placed in the pool of applicants, given a rank and score, and then invited for the permanent residency application. 
  7. After getting the invitation, you can complete the application procedure online. 

Cost of IRCC Run Programs 

If you wonder about the differences between FSW programs and provincial nominee programs, then a cost analysis is always mandatory. Immigration, Refugees, Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is the authority where you apply for federal immigration (permanent residence). You can also apply for a province to endorse your PR application. If you apply successfully via any provincial pathway,  you will receive the Quebec Selection Certificate or nomination certificate to support your IRCC application. 

Principal applicants and their spouses have to shell out approximately CAD 1,365. Biometric charges are CAD 85 for every individual on average. Every dependent child requires CAD 230. 

Here are the fees for immigration programs at the federal level: 

Name of the Program Type of ApplicantCosts
Right of Permanent Residence FeePrincipal applicant and accompanying spouse or common-law partner$515 
Express Entry, Provincial Nominee Program and Quebec Skilled Workers, Atlantic Immigration Class and most Economic Pilots (Rural, Agri-Food)Principal applicant$850 
 Accompanying spouse or common-law partner$850 
 Accompanying dependent child$230 
Live-in Caregiver Program and Caregivers Pilots (Home Child Provider Pilot and Home Support Worker Pilot)Principal applicant$570 
 Accompanying spouse or common-law partner$570 
 Accompanying dependent child$155 
Business (Federal and Quebec)Principal applicant$1,625 
 Accompanying spouse or common-law partner$850 
 Accompanying dependent child$230 
Family Reunification (Spouses, Partners and Children; Parents and Grandparents; and other relatives)Sponsorship fee$75 
 Sponsored principal applicant$490 
 Sponsored dependent child$75 
 Accompanying spouse or common-law partner$570 
 Accompanying dependent child$155 
Protected PersonsPrincipal applicant$570 
 Accompanying spouse or common-law partner$570 
 Accompanying dependent child$155 
Humanitarian and Compassionate / Public PolicyPrincipal applicant$570 
 Accompanying spouse or common-law partner$570
 Accompanying dependent child$155
Permit HoldersPrincipal applicant$335 

Canadian Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

The PNP or Canadian provincial nomination program is one where individuals can support their PR applications with a nomination from a particular Canadian territory/province. Every province has its PNP for immigrants specifically interested in migrating there. Provinces cannot issue approval for permanent residence. Hence, they come under the nominee category. Successful PNP applicants are nominated to apply for PR at the federal level by their chosen provinces. 

Quebec has a different system in this regard. The province has various immigration programs and relatively higher autonomy in terms of immigration as granted by the Federal Government. Some of the immigration programs include the Quebec Investor Program, Quebec Self Employed,  Quebec Experience Program, Quebec Entrepreneur Program, Certificat de Selection du Quebec, and the Quebec Skilled Worker Program. 

PNP Applications 

Now comes the defining moment in terms of the PNP vs. Express Entry debate. However, even if you are looking for answers to the Express Entry vs. PNP, conundrum, the former is still a part of the procedure. 

Here are the options for applying- 

  1. Immigration via Express Entry as a provincial nominee. You will have to provide your photograph and biometrics after the application. You can apply for a nomination under the province’s Express Entry stream or create your profile that shows your nomination. You can also create your Express Entry profile, indicating the provinces you prefer. If you get the notification of interest in your account from any province, then you can reach out directly. 
  2. Create your account and Express Entry profile by submitting all documents required. 
  3. Confirm your nomination in the relevant section, and choose the province/region. 
  4. If you are applying through the Express Entry stream of a province, make sure that you directly contact them after profile submission. Give your job seeker validation code and Express Entry profile number to the province. They will confirm the nomination with IRCC. You will then receive an acceptance/rejection message. 
  5. Upon acceptance, you will get a letter confirming nomination with 600 extra points. 
  6. You can also directly apply by visiting the website of the province/region and finding out the eligibility criteria. If they agree to nominate your application, then you can update these details likewise. 
  7. Provinces sometimes filter the Express Entry profiles list to find eligible candidates they wish to nominate. You may receive the notification of interest letter again. You should then contact the province directly. 
  8. Once you are invited to apply for PR through an account message, you can submit your online application within 90 days. 

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Cost for PNPs and Quebec Immigration 

Another moot point in the PNP vs. FSW debate is the overall cost of applying. The cost of applying for Quebec and PNP candidates should be examined carefully. Four PNPs have no separate nomination charges, i.e. Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Those applying for other provinces will have to pay anywhere around CAD 250-1,500. 

Here is a table that covers the costs of applying at various provinces: 

(PNP) + QuebecPrincipal Applicant’s Charges
Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP)$500 
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP)$1,150
Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP)$500 
New Brunswick Provincial Nominee Program (NB PNP)$250
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP)$1,500 
Prince Edward Island Provincial Nominee Program (PEI PNP)$300
Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP)$350

Base PNP Programs vs. Enhanced PNP Programs

Differences between enhanced and base PNP programs are usually dependent upon the presence/absence of an Express Entry profile for candidates. Both these PNPs run under the provincial government’s supervision. Enhanced PNP programs only accept those who are already Express Entry candidates. Eligible applicants will qualify for the Express-Entry programs like CEC, FSWP, or FSTP. The advantage of staying within the eligible candidate pool in Express Entry is direct immigration applications to IRCC. 

Applying for a PNP means applying for a provincial nomination before applying for PR. Express Entry has a system based on points that invite eligible candidates to apply for permanent residence. Those without eligibility for the Express Entry programs may apply via base PNPs. These are operated by the provinces and usually require higher processing timelines.

Processing Time of Federal Skilled Worker Program vs. PNPs 

IRCC reportedly takes 28 months to process base PNPs. In comparison, Express Entry PNPs require 22 months for processing on average. The estimated timeline for Quebec skilled workers’ programs is 31 months. The processing timeline for a direct Express Entry application is usually six months, although it may go up to 8-9 months in the current scenario. 


Which one should you opt for? Is it better to directly apply via the FSW program or take the PNP route? You should decide as per your eligibility for Express Entry. If you are, then uploading your profile here is always more advantageous. You cannot only be eligible for the IRCC invitation to apply but also be examined by provinces seeking PNP candidates. If you are not eligible, then you can take the base PNP pathway toward applying for permanent residence. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which is costlier: Federal Skilled Worker Program or PNPs?

PNPs may be costlier since they necessitate a two-part application system. However, some FSW programs are at par with PNPs in terms of costs. At the same time, some PNPs do not charge anything for nominations. It all depends on the particular province/FSW program in question.

Which takes less time: Federal Skilled Worker Program or PNPs?

FSW applications are processed within six months or even less. Paper-based applications take at least 18 months on average. Base PNPs require 28 months, while Express Entry PNPs require around 22 months approximately.

How to apply for Federal Skilled Worked Program?

You have to get the minimum score of 67 eligibility points, as per the FSW system. Once you get into the Express Entry candidate pool, you will get your CRS score. You can submit all your documentation and create your profile online. After that, you can apply online for permanent residence after receiving the invitation to apply (ITA).

Why can we not apply for Quebec through PNPs?

Express Entry does not apply to the province of Quebec. The province has its system called Quebec’s Expression of Interest. It is similar to the Express Entry mechanism.

How to get a PNP nomination?

You can create your Express Entry profile for permanent residence applications. Thereafter, you can select provinces you are interested in and wait for getting notifications of interest. You can then accept the same to move forward. You can also contact provinces directly as per their eligibility criteria. If you are eligible, you can apply via their Express Entry stream. You can always update your provincial nomination details in your Express Entry stream. The certificate is sent to the account of the applicant in most cases.

How long does it take to get PR after PNP?

The average processing time for permanent residence applications is six months via Express Entry. Paper-based PR applications will take up to 18 months. Once you have your provincial nomination under PNP, you can expect to get PR within six months or less if you have been invited to apply.

upGrad Abroad Team

upGrad abroad Editorial Team

We are a dedicated team of study-abroad experts, ensuring intensive research and comprehensive information in each of our blogs. With every piece written, we aim at simplifying the overseas education process for all. Our diverse experience as journalists, content writers, editors, content strategists, and marketers helps create the most relevant and authentic blogs for our readers.

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