New immigration stream to help international students without work experience stay in N.S.

·3 min read

A pilot provincial immigration stream is expected to fill Nova Scotia’s labour shortages in the continuing care and early childhood education sector, said Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab Wednesday.

The International Graduates in Demand immigration stream launched as a pilot in April 2021 and is expected to run for three years, according to a document released by the province which outlines eligibility criteria and application requirements.

The province held an announcement Wednesday outside Mount Saint Vincent University to promote the stream to students, graduates, and employers.

The stream is open for international students who recently graduated from programs offered by private career colleges and universities in Nova Scotia or by Nova Scotia Community College.

The applicant’s programs and skill set should match either of the following two categories:

“These two occupations were chosen because we know from labour market data and feedback from employers that there is high demand for them in Nova Scotia,” said Elizabeth MacDonald, a spokesperson with the Department of Immigration and Population Growth, in an email.

More occupations could be added to the stream as required, she said.

Previously, international graduates had to have one year of work experience before applying to immigrate through the Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP) but this stream eliminated that requirement.

Applicants to the new stream must also have a full-time permanent job offer from a Nova Scotia employer in a position corresponding to the eligible categories before applying. Employers must have proof that they tried to recruit a Canadian citizen or permanent resident for the job before offering it to the applicant.

The program is one of nine NSNP streams where the province selects applicants whose skill set matches Nova Scotia’s labour market needs. The province nominated 1,900 candidates through NSNP in 2020, making up over half of Nova Scotia’s total approved applications for the year.

Nova Scotia has had one applicant under the new stream to date. Yasmin Abdelmagid, a recent graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Early Childhood Education, is the first applicant to receive a nomination and is now working at a daycare in Halifax, said MacDonald.

Getting a nomination doesn’t mean that the applicant immediately becomes a permanent resident. Candidates who receive a provincial nomination must submit another application to IRCC within six months. After IRCC processes the application, the candidate, their spouse, and dependants, could be eligible for a permanent resident visa, also known as Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR).

As the applicant waits for their COPR, they can work as long as they have a valid work permit.

The document released by the province said there are no guarantees that a successful applicant will receive a COPR as the process is in IRCC’s hands.

In a previous interview, immigration lawyer Lee Cohen said slow IRCC processing times have been a long-standing hurdle for prospective immigrants regardless of the immigration stream they apply through, with many waiting years until their applications are processed.

He also said that many provincial or federal immigration programs in recent years have been burdened with “unnecessary bureaucracy” that render a good immigration idea into one that puts many obstructions in the path of applicants.

The result is a process where applicants need to take numerous steps, said Cohen, causing immigration staff to spend many hours processing applications as they verify and assess each step.

“These hurdles and challenges are there extensively to keep out cheaters, and well, I have no criticism about keeping out cheaters, but when you design your immigration system around the cheaters, then the non-cheaters, which represent most of the applicants, suffer,” he said.

In 2019, Nova Scotia had a record year for immigration, having welcomed 7,580 newcomers, up from 5,970 in 2018.

According to the province, Nova Scotia's current immigrant retention rate is 71 per cent, the highest in Atlantic Canada.

Nebal Snan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald

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