Nova Scotia to fast track 300 immigrants who qualify under 'express entry'
Premier Stephen McNeil says federal government bumped numbers in response to N.S. pressure
Nova Scotia will be able to fast track an additional 300 immigrants who qualify under so called "express entry" streams aimed at highly skilled immigrants.
Premier Stephen McNeil and Immigration Minister Lena Diab announced Wednesday that Ottawa has agreed to the additional nominees.
It allows the province to put forward more names for fast track approval.
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The federal decision will also allow Nova Scotia to nominate a total of 1,350 immigrants in 2015 under the provincial nominee program — that's nearly double the 700 previously allowed.
"We pushed the federal government hard for this increase and they responded after they saw our proactive approach," McNeil said in a news release.
The province's Office of Immigration created its first express stream program on Jan. 1 and the second in May. Both streams are aimed at highly-skilled immigrants.
Does not affect Syrian refugees
Nova Scotia was the first province to launch two new express entry streams. Diab said the federal government's decision to bump the number of nominees is unusual.
"To my knowledge, there has never been an enhanced allocation in the middle of the year," she said.
The announcement has no bearing on Nova Scotia's offer to Ottawa to accept more Syrian refugees. The province is still waiting for the federal government to decide what it will do about the refugee crisis.
Earlier this week, the Office of Immigration organized a roundtable with Nova Scotia's private refugee sponsorship agreement holders and other key stakeholders.
The Nova Scotia government released these facts on immigration Wednesday.
- More immigrants came to Nova Scotia last year than at any time in the last 10 years with 2,670 newcomers settling in the province.
- More immigrants are also staying, with Statistics Canada reporting a retention rate of 71 per cent for immigrants that landed in Nova Scotia between 2007 and 2011.
- The new express entry streams are aimed by highly-skilled applicants such as candidates already living in Nova Scotia and contributing to the economy, like international graduates.
- The Office of Immigration delivers settlement services across the province with the support of the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, the YMCA and other key partners.
With Files from Paul Withers