Why Canada is an attractive destination for Iranian immigrants

Hamid Ganji
Published: February 27, 2022

Data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) suggests that 2021 was a big year for Iranian immigration. Canada welcomed more than 11,000 Iranians last year, making it the eighth most popular source country of new immigrants in 2021. In this article we examine why Iranians prefer Canada over other destinations.

In recent years, the wave of emigration of elites and youth in Iran has intensified, mainly due to the wrecked economic situation and the lack of civil liberties. Since the 1978 revolution, Canada has become an attractive destination for Iranians.

Most Iranians who come to Canada are educated and fluent in English. Acquiring Canadian residency through investment is also popular among wealthy Iranians. According to Canada's 2016 census data, there were more than 210,000 Iranians living in Canada. We will know the more recent figures in the fall of 2022 when new census data will be published.

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Canada’s official language is English

English and French are the official languages of Canada. In addition, due to the diversity of immigrants, the country has a rich linguistic diversity. English language teaching in Iran starts from middle school and continues until the end of high school. Also, all students in universities can take English language courses. Iranian immigrants' good English language skills allow them to adapt and integrate more quickly.

Diverse immigration programs

Canada has always been known for its diverse immigration programs. Declining birth rates, an aging population, and the need for new labour are some of the reasons why the Canadian government has moderated its immigration policies and is welcoming more immigrants.

Canada offers more than 100 immigration pathways. Express Entry, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), family sponsorship, and student visas are some common ways Iranians come to Canada.

Also, immigrant reception capacity in Canada has been increasing in recent years. In the 2022-2024 Immigration Levels Plan, Canada is planning for 431,645 permanent resident admissions. Last year, Canada succeeded in admitting more than 405,000 new permanent residents.

Accredited learning institutions and immigration pathways for students

Canada's public education system is known as K-12, and it provides high-quality and equal educational chances for all people, regardless of their ethnicity, race, and background. According to an OECD report on literacy rates, Canadian students were top performers in reading compared to other OECD countries. Also, immigrant students in Canada reported higher reading levels than non-immigrant students.

There is a wide range of universities and colleges in Canada. The University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill University and McMaster University are within the top 100 universities in the world, according to British magazine the Times Higher Education.

Canada also offers permanent residency pathways for international students. International graduates who complete an eligible full-time program of at least eight months in duration may be eligible to get a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allows them to gain Canadian work experience that may open up their eligibility to even more immigration programs.

Quality of Life

As per the OECD's Better Life Index, Canada ranks above average in housing, subjective well-being, personal security, health status, social connections, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, work-life balance, education and skills, civic engagement, income and wealth. Also, about 73% of people aged 15 to 64 in Canada have a paid job. Canada is currently the ninth largest economy globally.

Iran's economy is in dire straits due to international sanctions and domestic corruption. Rising inflation and a lack of hope for improvement have led tens of thousands of Iranians to emigrate each year.

Cultural diversity

Multiculturalism has been promoted in the country since 1970 by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and Canadians are generally welcoming to immigrants, even during the COVID-19 recession. Canada is home to immigrants with different nationalities, religions, languages, and races.

Iranians are also part of Canada’s cultural community. Ancient Iranian ceremonies such as Nowruz are celebrated in Canada, and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates the Persian new year to the Iranian community. Iranians have achieved significant success in the country, including Hassan Khosrowshahi who founded Future Shop store chain, Karim Hakimi who is the founder of Hakim Optical Lab Ltd, and the Ghermezian family who developed and own the famous West Edmonton Mall. In addition, Iranian immigrants have even entered the Canadian Parliament and held important government positions. Among them are current Liberal Members of Parliament Ali Cyrus Ehsassi and Majid Jowhari.

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