Student rates

Mixed expert opinion on changes to NS student immigration program

International students raise their hands if they have already worked more than six months in Nova Scotia before being disqualified from the Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry program because they graduated from another province. (Pat Callaghan/CBC – image credit)

Nova Scotia immigration experts have mixed views on how changes to an accelerated program for international students will affect immigration overall.

Last week, the province barred students who have studied outside the province from applying to the Experience Nova Scotia: Express Entry (NSEEE) immigration stream.

It came as a shock to hundreds of international students who had already moved to Nova Scotia and worked for months to meet the program’s one-year employment goal. It offered the possibility of applying for permanent residence after 12 months instead of the usual two years.

“People came here knowing this program was available to them,” said Elizabeth Wozniak of North Star Immigration Law in Halifax. “Having this program taken away halfway through doesn’t feel fair at all.”

On Thursday, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration Jill Balser announced a record increase in the federal government’s Nova Scotia immigration allowance – 400 new seats for the Provincial Nominee Program and 1,173 additional spaces under the Atlantic Immigration Program.

Wozniak thinks restricting the NSEEE could make it harder to fill these new positions.

Another raffle for students

“The changes to this program…are really going to make it the least attractive of the immigration programs, whereas in the past it was one of the most popular,” she said. declared.

But an immigration lawyer in Bridgewater thinks Nova Scotia officials will still be able to fill the province’s expanded allocation.

“I don’t recall them ever falling below their quotas or allocations, so I expect them to get there,” McInnes Cooper’s David Nurse said.

Nurse says the best Canadian immigrant students earn master’s and doctoral degrees and usually find work immediately in their chosen fields.

He says students in Nova Scotia’s immigration streams play an important role in local labor markets while improving their language and job skills.

“They enrich the labor market. They are contributing here in Nova Scotia,” he said.

Support for a former working student

Samual Shaji came to Nova Scotia from southern India to study.

He graduated with a degree in Environmental Science from Cape Breton University in 2020.

Then he got a job managing a McDonald’s restaurant in Bedford and was able to apply for permanent residency after 12 months thanks to the NSEEE.

But Shaji says many international students in Nova Scotia aren’t so lucky.

He says it’s hard to get restaurant jobs in smaller communities like Sydney and Antigonish, and that lack of experience means students from elsewhere are often hired first after graduation. .

“There’s a McDonalds and a Tim Horton’s on every street in Toronto or Edmonton, so they have more experience doing that job,” Shaji said, “employers tend to hire them.”

“They know the Nova Scotia market”

“A lot of international students move from county to county because they can’t find any jobs that will help them with immigration,” he said.

While Shaji sympathizes with the struggle of all international students in Canada, he believes focusing the fast track on Nova Scotia students will encourage more graduates to stay.

He says familiarity with the local economy allows for greater success in opening businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores.

“Nova Scotia graduates know Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia’s needs best,” Shaji said. “They know the Nova Scotia market.”