New Brunswick launches new immigration pilot for international graduates

Alexandra Miekus
Published: September 2, 2021

New Brunswick has unveiled a new immigration pilot project for international students who graduate from four private career colleges in the province.

Starting April 1, 2022, international students who graduate from the Atlantic Business College, Eastern College, McKenzie College, or Oulton College and who have studied in one of 19 targeted occupations, will be able to apply to the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

The PNP allows Canadian provinces and territories to identify immigration candidates who can meet their local economic needs. Many PNP streams are geared towards international students, some are specifically tailored to them.

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Specific details and requirements for the new pilot project will only be available in the fall. However, the government has indicated via a news release that the pilot project is intended for recent graduates of designated learning institutions who are not currently eligible for the federal Post-Graduation Work Permit program. In addition, participation in this pilot program will be limited to designated New Brunswick educational institutions that have held this designation for at least five years and offer eligible programs of study in the following areas:

  • social and community service workers;
  • early childhood educators and assistants;
  • educational assistants;
  • health-care aides;
  • home support workers;
  • licensed practical nurses;
  • paramedics and related occupations;
  • medical laboratory technologists;
  • medical laboratory technicians and pathologists’ assistants;
  • medical administrative assistants;
  • computer programmers and interactive media developers;
  • web designers and developers;
  • computer network technicians;
  • user support technicians;
  • accounting technicians and bookkeepers;
  • payroll clerks;
  • shippers and receivers;
  • supply chain and logistics supervisors; and
  • production logistics co-ordinators

The new pilot program is a collaboration between Opportunities NB (ONB), which is New Brunswick's leading business development corporation, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“We are excited that we can help retain more international students by opening up an innovative pathway that is made for New Brunswick,” said Arlene Dunn, the minister responsible for Opportunities NB in the press release.

“With the increased competition for skilled labour, the potential to transition international students into permanent residents is crucial.”

This new initiative is in line with the priorities set by business groups and organizations in the province. Just last week, an alliance of New Brunswick business organizations presented a set of policy priorities for the upcoming federal election in Canada.

The group, made up of the New Brunswick Business Council, boards of trade, the Saint John Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, identified three priority areas where action is needed by the federal government, including immigration.

Among the priorities, the group called on the federal government to allocate more space for immigrants to reach a target of 10,000 immigrants by 2024, with 30 per cent being French-speaking; to simplify and speed up the entire immigration process, especially for international students; and to increase investment in settlement services.

According to Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder “Newcomers are key to addressing the challenges of [New Brunswick's] labour market, and by providing this additional immigration stream we are empowering more of our post-secondary institutions to develop the skilled workers that New Brunswick needs.”

During the next decade, the province expects approximately 120,000 New Brunswickers to leave the workforce.

Prior to the pandemic, immigration was one of the main drivers of population and labour force growth in New Brunswick. The province welcomed a record 6,000 permanent residents in 2019. By 2020, that number had dropped to 2,740 and between January and June 2021, there were 1,470 new permanent resident arrivals. This decrease is being attributed largely to travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 and processing delays by IRCC.

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