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Alberta puts a freeze on two immigration programs

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The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is designed to support Alberta’s economic growth by attracting work-ready immigrants to the province of Alberta. However, given current job market and economic conditions, Alberta has decided to temporarily stop accepting applications for two of its streams: the Family Stream and the U.S. Visa Holder Category. According to the news release by the Government of Alberta, this cancellation is only temporary until further notice.

Alberta’s economy, the strongest in Canada, is expected to rebound this year and next, with growth projected at 3.1 per cent and 4.2 per cent, according to the latest forecast report by RBC Economics. Steady gains in jobs are expected as the economy continues to improve following the recession in 2009. Economic recoveries are rarely felt simultaneously or evenly across different regions of Canada and employment creation in Alberta has lagged behind improvement to the job market in other parts of Canada. For example, more jobs have been created in Quebec since 2009 than were lost during the recession.

It is important to note that all applications under either the Family Stream or U.S. Visa Holder Category that were postmarked on or before August 23, 2010 will still be accepted for processing and will be processed according to the most recently published processing times and program criteria. Alberta recently updated the processing times for the U.S. Visa Holder Category to at least 28 months from the date your application was received by the AINP.

“We will continue to process applications for people who have the skills our growing economy needs,” said Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Employment and Immigration for the province of Alberta. The focus for AINP will shift toward nominating people who currently work in permanent jobs and/or who have job offers in occupations that are considered in-demand in the province of Alberta.

The AINP is a provincial nomination program (PNP) managed by the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Employment and Immigration in cooperation with the Government of Canada’s department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). Individuals nominated for immigration to Canada by the Government of Alberta can apply for a permanent resident visa through CIC as a Provincial Nominee along with their spouse/common-law partner and dependent children. CIC has final authority on all Provincial Nominee permanent resident applications.

The federal government decides the number of people Alberta can nominate for permanent residence. Earlier this month, the Government of Canada granted Alberta’s wish for an increase in the number of permanent resident visas available for issuance under the provincial nomination program. Alberta will receive 5,000 immigrants this year under the Alberta Immigrant Nomination Program (AINP) which is a significant increase from the 4,200 allocated last year and the 2,800 allocated two years ago.

Alberta will continue to accept applications under the following streams of its provincial nomination program:

• Skilled workers
• Semi-skilled workers in certain occupations
• International students
• Compulsory trades
• Engineering occupations
• Self-employed farmers

The provincial nominees are important to help sustain both short- and long-term economic growth, said Alberta Immigration Minister Thomas Lukaszuk. Alberta’s preference is not to attract only temporary foreign workers, but permanent residents through its provincial nomination program.

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