FREDERICTON - The provincial government has changed immigration rules to allow residents to sponsor family members to move to the province from outside of Canada.
The changes to the Provincial Nominee Program are targeted to attract skilled workers and entrepreneurs to the province.
"The immediate family members of permanent residents should be afforded an opportunity to be successful in New Brunswick," said Business New Brunswick Minister Victor Boudreau, who is also responsible for the Population Growth Secretariat.
"This program change encourages retention by attracting newcomers with a genuine desire to stay in New Brunswick. Ultimately, we want our staff processing applications from individuals who are sincere about establishing businesses in our province."
Under the program's existing categories, nominees must have a job offer or a business plan. The changes will create a new category for skilled workers who already have family within New Brunswick.
Boudreau said residents will be able to help skilled family members find jobs and integrate into the province.
"Anyone looking for a job can tell you that the process often takes time and requires face-to-face contact with potential employers," he said.
"The process is even more difficult for those who live abroad."
In 2008, almost 2,000 immigrants arrived in New Brunswick through the program. The Population Growth Secretariat has a government mandate to attract 5,000 immigrants by 2015 and to significantly increase the retention rate once they arrive.
Lorraine LeClair, the executive director of the Multicultural Association of the Greater Moncton Area, said the new categories will make the program more effective for both the province and new immigrants.
"I think it's going to be a good initiative for New Brunswick," she said. "It's also going to be a great thing for our newcomers so that they'll be able to keep their families together and have an opportunity to bring more folks to New Brunswick."
LeClair said that should help New Brunswick meet its population growth goals, as well as provide benefits to immigrants.
"It shows that there are roots that are going to be built here," she said. "It keeps that family unit as a whole and it shows that we're a welcoming community, not just for the bottom line, but for a healthier, overall family environment."
Entrepreneurial immigrants looking to set up a business in New Brunswick must now submit a deposit, which will be refunded if they establish a business within two years of arriving in the province and it stays in operation for at least one year.
Manitoba, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island also have similar programs that require a refundable deposit.