In 2019, Nigeria became the fourth-leading source country of new immigrants to Canada, behind India, China, and the Philippines.
A total of 12,600 Nigerians gained permanent residence last year, which represents a tripling of Nigerian immigration to Canada since 2015.
The vast majority of Nigerians came to Canada as economic class immigrants. The main way that Canada manages economic class immigration applications is through Express Entry, and 65 per cent of Nigerian immigrants gained Canadian permanent resident status through Express Entry in 2019.
Nigeria was actually the third-leading source country of those who received an invitations to apply (ITA) for permanent residence under Express Entry last year.
Several factors explain the rise in Nigerian immigration to Canada.
The oil-rich nation has seen its economic growth slow since the decline in global oil prices in 2014. Nigeria’s economy was growing by around 5 per cent per year leading up to 2014, but growth has since weakened to around 2 per cent annually.
As a result, more Nigerian professionals have sought to come to countries such as Canada in pursuit of economic opportunity.
Canada is an attractive destination for Nigerians because it offers economic opportunities in sectors which are appealing to Nigerian professionals, such as oil and gas, ICT, health care, and other STEM-related fields.
Nigerian professionals may also fare well under Express Entry’s Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Factors such as English-language proficiency, having a high level of education, and possessing professional work experience are all taken into consideration when immigration candidates submit Express Entry profiles, factors which the Nigerian professionals who immigrate to Canada possess.
Given that English is their country’s official language, Nigerians have a significant advantage under Express Entry compared with most other nationalities since English-language proficiency comprises a major component of the CRS.
Once the coronavirus has been contained and we return to a sense of normalcy, we should continue to expect higher levels of Nigerian immigration to Canada.
Global oil prices have plummeted once again, which will create economic challenges for oil-rich countries around the world.
Canada’s rising immigration levels over the coming years will open up more economic class immigration spots, including through Express Entry.
Canada’s openness to immigrants also runs in stark contrast to other countries which have historically welcomed high levels of Nigerian immigrants, such as the United States and Great Britain. The recent U.S. decision to expand its travel ban to include Nigeria may result in more prospective Nigerian immigrants looking to Canada.
More Nigerians are also studying in Canada. There are currently around 12,000 Nigerian students in Canada, and these students will be well-placed to transition to permanent resident status due to their youth, English language fluency, Canadian education, and Canadian work experience.
When you add these factors together, it is reasonable to expect further increases in the number of Nigerian immigrants welcomed by Canada.
Kareem El-Assal is the Director of Policy & Digital Strategy at CanadaVisa.
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