PEI

Immigration office reopens in Charlottetown

Newcomers and residents of P.E.I. will once again have access to immigration services with the reopening of an immigration office in Charlottetown on Thursday.

Office was shut down in 2012

Xinlei Qian, middle right and daughter Charlotte Cong became Canadian citizens on Thursday in P.E.I. The pair is standing with Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, left, Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship and Judge Joan Mahoney. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

Newcomers and residents of P.E.I. will once again have access to immigration services with the reopening of an immigration office in Charlottetown on Thursday.

The office, operated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, was shut down in 2012.

The reopening was marked with a citizenship ceremony, where 29 permanent residents from 11 countries became Canadian citizens.

"We believe in improving client service within the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Department as we serve foreign nationals and Canadian permanent residents and Canadian citizens," said Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.

Will help those outside the city

The Charlottetown office is located at 119 Kent St. It will offer services such as citizenship tests, ceremonies, immigration interviews, permanent resident landings, permanent resident card distribution and offer services outside of the city, Hussen said.

"We have the capacity, by using this office, to go out and hold citizenship ceremonies outside of Charlottetown. And that is something that will also help a lot of residents on the Island who do not live in Charlottetown," Hussen said.

Ahmed Hussen, minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, says the reopening of the office 'helps not only P.E.I. attract, but retain immigrants.' (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

The Charlottetown office will also work with local settlement service provider organizations and manage refugee claims.

"It helps not only P.E.I. attract, but retain immigrants. When newcomers come to P.E.I. they also need the services and the supports that are required to keep people here," Hussen said.

Newcomer population growing

P.E.I. has seen the number of immigrants grow in the last few years and nearly 400 residents have become Canadian citizens in the last two years.

"We've seen wonderful growth in immigration here in Prince Edward Island," Charlottetown MP Sean Casey said, adding until Thursday, P.E.I was the only province in the country without an immigration office.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey says all immigrants and newcomers coming to P.E.I. at some stage needed assistance from the government. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"The face of Charlottetown, the face of Prince Edward Island has dramatically changed in the last 10 to 15 years as more immigrants have come and have settled," Casey said.

All immigrants and newcomers to P.E.I., at some stage, needed assistance from the government, Casey said, and it made no sense to shut down the office in 2012, which was part of the reason he has been fighting to reopen it.

"It was something that was needed, we were the only province that didn't have it. I didn't think it was right and pushed the case forcefully," Casey said.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Travis Kingdon

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