map of Nova Scotia

A comprehensive immigration report published this week by the government of Nova Scotia reveals that 2015 was a breakthrough year for the province, and it looks like 2016 will see even more positive news.

In 2015, 3,403 people settled in Nova Scotia as permanent residents — the highest level for more than 10 years. Remarkably, this figure has already been eclipsed for just the first half of 2016, with 3,418 newcomers having made the province their home by the end of June. More than 1,000 of those newcomers are Syrian refugees who began arriving in December, 2015.

Since early 2015, the government of Nova Scotia has been proactive with its Nova Scotia Nominee Program (NSNP), one of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). These immigration programs allow Canadian provinces to select newcomers based on criteria set by the province.

Not only was Nova Scotia the first province to launch a PNP stream aligned with the federal Express Entry immigration selection system, it was the first province to launch more than one such stream. Moreover, Nova Scotia successfully lobbied the federal government to increase its overall PNP allocation not once, but twice (most recently in March, 2016), in doing so bringing the total NSNP allocation from 700 to 1,350.

A warm Nova Scotia welcome

Nova Scotia's Minister of Immigration, Lena Diab, said a more welcoming attitude is the driving force behind attracting individuals and families to the province.

"They are welcoming people like they never welcomed them before," said Diab.

"The support that we have received across this land and across this province from one region to the next has been overwhelming. I don't believe anybody would have expected that kind of support. People are embracing diversity, people are loving the fact that we're all different."

Diab expects that change in attitude will convince more immigrant families to remain in the province, which has reported an immigrant retention rate of 74 percent for newcomers who arrived between 2008 and 2013. A decade ago, fewer than one-third of newcomers remained in the province.

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program

Currently, the NSNP has five streams, presenting immigration options for skilled workers, international graduates, and entrepreneurs.

Stream Target applicants Aligned with Express Entry? Job offer required? Additional Notes

Nova Scotia Demand: Express Entry

Skilled workers with a post-secondary education Yes No Currently not open

Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry

Individuals with paid skilled work experience in Nova Scotia Yes No Currently open

Skilled Worker Stream

Foreign workers No Yes Semi- and low-skilled workers may also apply

Entrepreneur Stream

Individuals who wish to start or acquire a business and settle permanently in Nova Scotia

No No Expression of Interest system

International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream

Recent graduates of Nova Scotia post-secondary institutions who have already started or purchased a business in the province

No No Expression of Interest system

Welcoming newcomers from around the world

Nova Scotia’s immigration report highlights that the province welcomes immigrants from every corner of the globe. Between 2011 and 2015, the Philippines was the top source country, followed by the United Kingdom, India, China, and Israel. Rounding out the top 10 source countries were the US, Egypt, Iran, Bhutan, and Germany.

Diverse occupations

Newcomers to Nova Scotia in 2015 not only came from around the world, they also came from all walks of life. The table below reveals the most popular occupations among new immigrants to Nova Scotia.

Where immigrants settled in Nova Scotia, 2011–2015

The majority of newcomers to Nova Scotia over recent years have chosen to settle in the capital and largest city, Halifax.      

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Total


1,588 1,755 1,947 2,066 2,730 10,086

Cape Breton

87 69 77 98 123 454


108 84 103 81 72 448


44 105 60 68 86 363


61 69 60 76 67 333


22 37 41 67 52 219


27 30 37 50 60 204


38 27 32 34 41 172


29 22 23 20 42 136


65 39 11 - 127


17  16 29 11  21 94


21 - - 21  22 79


17 16  20 17 9 79


22 13 8 18 11 72


12 6 18 14 21 71


12  - - - 14 36


- -  13 10 36


7 10 - - 12 34


12 - - - - 30

International students and foreign workers

In addition to welcoming record numbers of permanent residents, Nova Scotia has also seen a steady increase in the number of international students and foreign workers it welcomes on a temporary basis. A total of 10,602 international students were in Nov

Considering its size and population, Nova Scotia is a hugely popular destination for international students, who have outnumbered foreign workers in the province over recent years. Popular universities that attract international students include Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, St. Francis Xavier University, and Acadia University.

  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Study Permit Holders

8,425 9,185 9,206 9,393 10,602

Temporary Resident  Permit Holders

55 55  73 46 41

Work Permit Holders

5,762 6,413 6,712 6,222 6,015
Source countries for International Students in Nova Scotia in 2015  
China, People’s Republic of 3,944
Saudi Arabia 1,505
India 553
Korea, Republic of 375
United States of America 341
Bahama Islands, The 278
Japan 245
United Kingdom and Colonies 236
Nigeria 217
Bangladesh 191

To learn more about studying in Nova Scotia, click here.


To learn more about your Canadian immigration options through the NSNP, or other Canadian immigration programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.