N.S. pilot program aims to clarify immigration process for international students

·3 min read
Arlene Grafilo is originally from the Philippines, but has been in Nova Scotia since January 2021. The Cape Breton University graduate, her husband and two kids want to settle in Nova Scotia. (Submitted by Arlene Grafilo - image credit)
Arlene Grafilo is originally from the Philippines, but has been in Nova Scotia since January 2021. The Cape Breton University graduate, her husband and two kids want to settle in Nova Scotia. (Submitted by Arlene Grafilo - image credit)

Arlene Grafilo says she encountered a lot of hearsay from other international students as she worked to better understand the immigration process that would allow her to transition from Cape Breton University student to permanent resident.

"That makes us confused," said Grafilo, who graduated from CBU earlier this year with a post-baccalaureate diploma in business management. She's now working in Halifax for an insurance and investment company.

She's welcoming a new Nova Scotia pilot program that will provide detailed information on immigration options and personalized coaching to recent international graduates.

"I think it is really important for us to have that one-on-one interaction with somebody who knows the immigration process," said Grafilo.

The post-graduation immigration pilot support program announced earlier this week has secured funding from the provincial government for one year.

The program aims to help 500 participants, said Shawna Garrett, the president and CEO of EduNova, an organization that works to attract international students to Nova Scotia.

Submitted by Shawna Garrett
Submitted by Shawna Garrett

She hopes the program gets permanent funding and can expand to 1,000 participants.

Participants will get free access to a registered Canadian immigration consultant for a coaching session.

The eligibility criteria includes:

  • Having finished studies after August 2021 at a Nova Scotia post-secondary institution.

  • Having a post-graduation work permit or having applied for one.

  • Having a job or job offer in Nova Scotia.

Garrett said EduNova has heard from international students that accessing consultants can be pricey, and has heard of instances where it has cost them anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000.

"We are also aware that there are some bad actors in the space that may not have the best interests of our international graduates at heart," she said.

EduNova wants to find ways to "move into that space" to offer advice, Garrett said.

Teo Kim is a graphic design student in his final year at NSCC. Originally from Seoul, he came to Nova Scotia a year ago.

Drawn by the balance between nature and city life, he wants to stay in Nova Scotia after graduation. He hopes to participate in the pilot program.

He said he's taken part in webinars put on by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada that have aimed to take the mystery out of the immigration process.

Submitted by Teo Kim
Submitted by Teo Kim

"We always don't have enough time, always lack of time, so most of the questions are not covered in the session," he said.

Kim said participants may not feel comfortable participating in that type of setting for privacy reasons, which is why he welcomes the private session the pilot program will offer.

No one was available from the province for comment by deadline, but retaining more international students is part of the province's plan to double its population to 2,000,000 by 2060.

"From conversations that I have had with them, they want to make Nova Scotia their home and we want to make that happen for them," Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser previously told CBC News.

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