A three-year pilot program will enable foreign graduates from British Columbia masters and PhD programs in natural, health and applied sciences programs to apply for immigrant status before receiving and accepting a full-time offer of employment.
“These highly skilled graduates are vital to helping our province succeed in a world where knowledge is the most important currency,” said Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development Moira Stilwell.
“With over 950,000 job openings anticipated by 2020, attracting international post-secondary students is one way we can meet the future needs of B.C. business for well trained, highly educated employees.”
Competition for highly skilled workers, particularly in these degree areas, is strong. This pilot project, under the provincial nominee program (PNP), will help the province attract and retain recent graduates, meeting the needs of B.C. employers and universities as they attract high-quality students from around the globe to sustain research capacity, said Greg Peet, co-chair of the Premier's Technology Council.
Other changes to the PNP will expand opportunities to include foreign graduate students with degrees or diplomas from any eligible institution across Canada, extend the application deadline from one to two years and broaden the range of employment options that qualify candidates for resident status.
The province's PNP was introduced in 2001 to attract skilled workers to B.C. It allows the province to select potential economic immigrants for expedited permanent residence. Nominees are fast-tracked for permanent resident status with federal citizenship and immigration authorities, reducing average wait-times from about five years to less than one.
Since 2001, almost 10,000 graduate students, skilled and business immigrants have been attracted to the province through the PNP. Graduate students account for about 10 per cent of immigrants to B.C. through the PNP.