The Government of British Columbia announced last week that the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) Tech Pilot Project is now permanent.

The tech stream of the PNP was launched in 2017 and allows foreign tech workers and international students to receive nominations for permanent residence in Canada. The program aims to help tech firms in the province attract and retain qualified talent, allowing people in 29 tech occupations to be prioritized for permanent residency. Occupations included in the program include computer programmers, interactive media developers and software engineers.

“This news will give businesses and people the certainty to plan for this year and the years ahead now that the program is permanent,” the government said in making the announcement.

The program had been extended three times and was initially set to expire at the end of June. Just more than a week before the announcement, the CEOs of 16 BC tech companies submitted a letter to the government asking for the program to be extended again, noting its importance to BC’s tech sector.

“The ease, the timeliness, and the structure of the program, as well as the affordability and the comprehensiveness of the BC PNP Tech Pilot have all combined to benefit technology companies,” reads the letter submitted by the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI).

The letter also outlines how the program has helped BC tech companies navigate the disruptions caused by COVID-19. According to the government news release, the use of the PNP Tech Pilot has continued to increase, despite the impacts of the pandemic. In 2020, 1,855 tech workers were nominated, a 23% increase over the 1,509 nominated in 2019 and a 63% increase over the 1,135 nominated in 2018.

Since it started, the Tech Pilot has supported more than 6,000 tech workers to be nominated for permanent residency in BC.

“As the most comprehensive and service-oriented provincial immigration initiative of its kind in Canada, the Tech Pilot also gives BC a competitive advantage over other Canadian jurisdictions when it comes to creating economic opportunities and growth in the province,” the government said.

Tessa Seager, CCI’s director of government affairs for BC, called the government’s announcement “very good news for BC’s high-growth innovation sector.”

“This program is an efficient and effective way to address the province’s skilled talent labour shortage and support homegrown companies as they scale up globally,” she said in a statement. “Our members now have the certainty they need to make long-term business expansion plans and drive prosperity as we head into the great reopening.”

Published on June 4, 2021.