A Halifax immigration lawyer is praising the government's new immigration stream aimed at keeping workers in the province.
On Tuesday, Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab announced a new immigration tool geared towards international students who have worked in the province for at least a year.
The new express entry is designed to fast track those who qualify and to give them permanent residency status within six months.
"Way better than the old system," said Halifax immigration lawyer Elizabeth Wozniak in an interview with CBC's Information Morning. "It's totally good news, it's great. In 2012, when the province shut down the international graduate program it really left the international grads out in the cold a little bit."
"This really does help them, especially with all the big changes the feds have been making to immigration. [Those] have really put international grads at a disadvantage and so this really helps them to get permanent residence and to stay in Nova Scotia, where they want to be."
Grace Okpala, a student from Nigeria, wants to work in environment sector. She came to Nova Scotia in 2013 to complete her master's degree.
"I want to stay in Nova Scotia but if I don't find a job or something to keep me here, definitely I'll move somewhere else — but I want to stay in Nova Scotia," she said.
"It gives you like a home feeling, it's more like a little community."
Wozniak said temporary foreign workers will benefit, too.
"We anticipate that it's going to help, not just students, but other people who are here, for one reason or another, can't access any of the other permanent residence programs," she said.
"It applies to the higher skill level so it's called [National Occupational Classification] NOC [groups] O, A and B. Chefs fall in to NOC B, welders fall in to NOC B — so those are people who could potentially access that program as well."
As of April 10, the federal government has offered to fast-track the permanent residency of 7,776 skilled immigrants under express entry.
"You still have to have excellent language skills, you still have to have your credentials assessed if your degree is from overseas, you still have to have one year of work experience in Nova Scotia — and that new express entry program, a lot of people are complaining about it, but actually, getting permanent residence in six months is a huge improvement over the old system," said Wozniak.