International student still waiting for answers about why program dropped his college

Omar Burqan's wife, Razan, and 3 1/2-year-old son, Awab, joined him in Fredericton in the summer.  (Submitted by Omar Burqan - image credit)
Omar Burqan's wife, Razan, and 3 1/2-year-old son, Awab, joined him in Fredericton in the summer. (Submitted by Omar Burqan - image credit)

An international student who moved his wife and son from Jordan based on a government pilot program still doesn't know why his college no longer qualifies for that program — and why he no longer qualifies for a work permit, as promised.

Omar Burqan is set to graduate next month from the educational assistant program and has no idea whether he'll receive the work permit Atlantic Business College in Fredericton promised him was part of the program.

In fact, the information can still be found online with a search of the college name and the program name. As of publication time, the page touts, as one of the main benefits, the work permit, which will "allow the students to work and live in the province while they wait for their permanent residency."

Burqan said he left Jordan based on the pilot program — especially the promise of a work permit.

When the government announced the New Brunswick Private Career College Graduate Pilot in August 2021, it named four private colleges, including Fredericton's Atlantic Business College and Moncton's McKenzie College, as part of the program.

A spokesperson for the provincial immigration department said last month that changes to the pilot were made after talks with officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

By the summer of 2022, Atlantic Business College and McKenzie College were dropped from the program without explanation or announcement.

No response from college

Provincial officials have been repeatedly asked why Atlantic Business College was dropped, but have never provided an explanation. They directed inquiries to the college.

Repeated messages left at the college by CBC over the last two months have not been returned.

Burqan also isn't satisfied with the lack of response from the college.

Each time they ask him to pay the $7,400 in tuition that was due in September, he asks them for a guarantee that they'll follow through on what was promised him.

"I asked them many times … to send me an official guarantee that wouldn't happen to me what did happen to my colleagues … But unfortunately, I didn't get anything from them."

In fact, Burqan is so dissatisfied with Atlantic Business College that he's joined four other international students and talked to a lawyer about suing the college to get the money back that they've already paid for tuition.

Submitted by Omar Burqan
Submitted by Omar Burqan

Burqan said he won't give them any more money until they deliver what was promised — even if the college withholds his diploma.

With the help of Green Party Leader David Coon, Burqan has spoken with immigration officials from the provincial government. While they've promised to help figure out a way for him to stay and work, Burqan said no one has made any guarantees.

In an emailed response, an official with the New Brunswick Immigration Department said, "Graduates of other NB private career colleges might be eligible for other provincial immigration programs. Each individual case is unique, and the individual will need to look at the various program criteria to see if they are eligible."

Erika Jutras said if the individual is "successful in obtaining a provincial nomination, they will be able to obtain an employer-specific work permit allowing them to work while the permanent residency is processed."

Burqan said he has already been offered a full-time job with the company where he is currently employed. But his study permit expires 90 days after he graduates. Without a work permit, his future is uncertain after that.