Alberta Includes U.S. International Student Graduates In Immigration Reforms

Alberta is accelerating two previously-announced immigration streams targetted at U.S. international student graduates as part of a revamp of the province’s immigration system.

The Student Entrepreneur program and the Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program will be heavily promoted to “U.S. international student graduates who are not welcome in the United States,” the Alberta Recovery Plan says.

The report was released on June 29, which is one week after the U.S government announced the immigration freeze for 2020 and one week before they announced that foreign students enrolled in a fulltime online study program would have to leave the United States.

“One of the major factors preventing Alberta’s technology sector is a lack of people with relevant skills,” the Alberta Recovery Plan states, “At the same time, the U.S has further closed its border to some of the world’s most talented I.C.T workers and start-up entrepreneurs.”

Growing in the tech sector is one of the strategies in Alberta’s economic recovery plan following the COVID-19 lockdown. The government plans to create capital investments for technology startups, support to develop artificial intelligences, enhance 5G initiatives, and start an Innovation Employment Grant program.

The Foreign Graduate Startup Visa Program is still ongoing though jobs in Alberta have been affected by the coronavirus crisis, the program is poised to support technology and innovation in the Alberta province.

Coronavirus effect on Alberta immigration

Following the economic closures in March, Alberta province is reducing its immigration targets for 2020 by a third from 6,250 permanent resident nominations to not more than 4,000.

The province also says it is asking that the federal government take out most occupational categories in the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) for Alberta province, this is part of the government’s overriding goal of “getting Albertan people back to work.”

Alberta does not specify which occupational categories it wants to add to the “refusal to process list” but insists they aim to remove the vast majority of occupations from the TFWP. A few specialized occupations experiencing severe and proven labour shortages will be removed.

The government will improve services to connect employers with available workers and expand training opportunities in occupation where there is a persistent skill shortage.

The province also says that new immigrants will be required in the future to create jobs and bring specialized skills and talent to the Alberta labour market.

As such, the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) will be changed to the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program, and four new streams will be introduced to spur entrepreneurship, tech start-ups, and to enhance economic growth in rural communities.