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The Changing Face of Canadian Immigration

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While China remains the single largest source country for new Canadian permanent residents, it may not remain so for long as a rise in arrivals from South Asia is causing a shift in the makeup of Canadian immigration.

For many years the position of the leading source of immigrants to Canada belonged to China. In 2005, 44 075 new permanent residents arrived from China, well ahead of second place India with 33 146. Recent information about the composition of Canadian immigration however suggests that these rankings are poised for a change.

Over the past two years there have been two overseas Canadian immigration intake centers in particular which have exhibited significant growth. New Dehli and London have seen their total inventories of immigration applicants surge by 60% and 75% respectively. It should be noted of course that the London office covers not only the UK and Ireland but also some nearby Northern European countries such as Sweden and Norway as well as seven of the states in the Persian Gulf region. This latter group – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and Yemen – accounted for fully 62% of applicants from London.

While this upward trend takes hold in South Asia (Islamabad has also seen a 25% increase) and the Gulf, the number of applicants through the Beijing and Hong Kong offices have veered in the other direction. After many years of growth we are now seeing a decline in total immigration applications from China. It remains early to consider the long-term character of this shift, but the decline may be partially explained by increasing economic opportunities fuelled by growth within China, along with difficulty in meeting English or French language requirements.

When we examine even further the South Asian growth is magnified by the demographics of the gulf region. Many of the applicants from the Gulf states being processed through London are Indian workers who had come to the Gulf for economic opportunities and are choosing Canada for a new home. With high levels of education and training in skilled trades and a high number of English speakers, growth from this region is expected to continue.

Also exhibiting rapid growth in applicants, though accounting for a much smaller proportion of total immigration to Canada are certain centers in Latin America and Africa. All of Guatemala, Havana, and Sao Paolo in the former and Abidjian, Accra, and Nairobi in the latter have at least doubled applications received over the past 3 years, with some growing as much as 600%. We can expect these regions to have increasing prominence in the picture of Canadian immigration.