Alberta immigration program changes to prioritize those with immediate family in the province

CBC News

Omar Sherif · CBC News · Posted: Jan 18, 2023

Alberta is adjusting its immigration process in an attempt to make it easier for those with ties to the province to move to Canada.

The province announced Wednesday that they will allocate 25 per cent of express entry nominations to potential newcomers with skills in high demand who have immediate family members already living in Alberta.

It's a move that Rajan Sawhney, Alberta's minister of trade, immigration and multiculturalism said will help address the ongoing labour shortage while easing the process for potential immigrants.

"AAIP's change will draw workers in high-demand sectors through Express Entry who have immediate family ties in Alberta," she said in a statement.

"This approach will help ensure Alberta's economy will prosper by dedicating a portion of provincial nominations toward in-demand workers who will have a great support network right from day one."

The Alberta express entry stream allows the province to nominate a limited number of qualified candidates from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada's express entry system.

The province said the change will apply to prospective newcomers who have immediate family in Alberta — such as a sibling, a parent, or a parent — and have the skills to work in high-demand sectors including tech, healthcare and agriculture.

In December 2022, Alberta gained more than 41,000 new full-time jobs for a total of nearly 94,000 full-time jobs in 2022 and 221,000 full-time jobs have been added in Alberta since the start of 2021.

It's anticipated that a there will be a job shortage of 33,100 workers by 2025 across several occupations, skill levels and sectors in Alberta.

Alberta gets 6,500 nomination certificates each year and it's expected that 815 of those will be used for the new stream in 2023.

"As an agency that works on the ground with newcomers, we know based on just the data and the stories that we hear from our clients that those that have familial supports here fare a lot better than those who don't," said Alka Merlin with Immigrant Services Calgary.

"We are excited to see that the government is responding to what the community has been saying all along." 

Merlin, however, says more can be done.

"We really encourage the government of Alberta, especially the Fairness for Newcomers Office to continue working with regulatory Bodies to simplify and accelerate the assessment of qualifications by eliminating the barriers to registration," she said. 

According to IRCC, there is currently a backlog of more than 2.15 million immigration applicants.