Indian Students in PEI Protest Immigration Rule Changes

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Indian Students in PEI Protest Immigration Rule Changes

| Updated: July 4, 2024 21:42

Indian students in Prince Edward Island (PEI) have taken to the streets in protest against recent changes to immigration rules by the Canadian province. Over the last two months, these students have rallied against policies that could impact their ability to obtain permanent residency.

Advocacy groups supporting immigrants and people of colour, including the Cooper Institute and BIPOC USHR (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour United for Strength, Home, Relationship), held a joint press conference titled “Fair PNP Rules” on Wednesday, July 3. Their collective voice urged the government to exempt foreign workers already in PEI from the new rules, as reported by CBC News.

Nouhad Mourad, a community relations coordinator with BIPOC-USHR, expressed concern for immigrant and racialized communities in PEI. “It’s very chilling for them,” Mourad stated, emphasizing the need for widespread support.

The issue at hand extends beyond the Indian community—it affects the broader immigration landscape, potentially setting a precedent for policy changes. Joe Byrne of the Cooper Institute stressed the critical importance of advocating for government flexibility. “We must continue spreading the message,” Byrne emphasized, as quoted by CBC News.

The protest, spearheaded by Rupinder Pal Singh, was triggered by changes to the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) rules announced in February. These changes aim to reduce immigrant numbers by 25% in 2024, citing pressures on PEI’s healthcare system and housing market.

Despite efforts to explore alternative pathways for foreign workers to remain in PEI—such as changing professions or exploring other programs—Minister Jenn Redmond confirmed in late June that there would be no immediate policy adjustments.

A letter from the province’s office of immigration highlighted PEI’s rapid population growth and the overwhelming demand for permanent residency. According to CBC News, over 12,000 people expressed interest in seeking permanent residency through PEI, but only 1,590 will be invited to apply.

Rupinder Pal Singh reported that approximately 20 individuals have left the country due to expired work permits or lost hope of obtaining permanent residency. Others plan to transition to visitor status while continuing their advocacy.

“We are not illegals seeking shelter,” Singh emphasized. “We are hard workers asking the government to give us what we deserve.”

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