Why more Indians are moving to Canada

Kareem El-Assal
Published: August 23, 2022

India is by far Canada's leading source of global talent.

In 2021, Canada welcomed over 405,000 immigrants, an all-time high. Nearly one-third of these immigrants are of Indian origin.

In addition, Canada welcomed nearly 450,000 international students last year, with Indians comprising almost 50 per cent of this total.

There were also over 10,000 Indians that moved to Canada under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and some 130,000 got work permits under the International Mobility Program.

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High levels of Indian newcomer arrivals can be explained by a combination of international and domestic Canadian factors.

Internationally, India has a growing middle-class population with the education, language skills, work experience, and settlement funds that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) requires to approve a visa.

These attributes are important for all Indians looking to move to Canada, whether as permanent residents, foreign workers, or international students.

Another important international factor is that the lack of permanent residence pathways in the U.S. has led to an increasing number of Indian foreign workers moving to Canada to pursue permanent residence in recent years.

Domestically, Canada has made a variety of major immigration policy changes that are of great benefit to Indian talent.

In 2015, IRCC introduced Express Entry to manage its main federal economic class immigration programs.

This entailed introducing the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) as a means to score and rank candidates based on the likes of their age, education, language skills, work experience, and other factors such as having Canadian education and work experience.

Given the aforementioned characteristics they possess, Indians tend to fare well under the CRS and are easily the top source of successful candidates who go on to receive permanent residence through Express Entry.

For instance, the high levels of English proficiency among Indians give them a significant advantage over nationals of many other countries.

In addition, IRCC launched the Student Direct Stream (SDS) in 2018 to allow eligible Indians to fast-track their studies in Canada.

Indians who meet SDS criteria can get their study permits more quickly.

The SDS also has a higher approval rate than applying for a study permit through the normal pathway.

As noted, studying in Canada and then going on to work here, commonly through the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), provides Indians with an advantage under Express Entry as well as many other Canadian immigration programs such as the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Another major domestic factor to keep in mind is Canada's large Indian diaspora and the increased prevalence of Indian culture across the country.

This helps new Indians feel at home in Canada and supports their settlement and integration.

Canada's Census 2016 reports the country has some 1.4 million people of Indian descent but this figure is set to be much higher when Census 2021 data is reported later this year.

Looking ahead, the number of Indians moving to Canada is set to remain strong.

Canada is increasing its immigration levels to support its post-pandemic economic recovery.

This year's target is almost 432,000 immigrants and it will rise to over 450,000 immigrants by 2024.

The targets may rise again when IRCC announces its Immigration Levels Plan 2023-2025 by November 1 of this year.

Canada does not have quotas on the number of foreign workers and international students it welcomes.

Given Canada continues to have historic labour shortages and demand to study here remains high, we should continue to expect high levels of Indians moving to Canada to work and study over the coming years.

In addition, unlike earlier in the pandemic, Canada no longer has travel restrictions in place preventing Indians from physically beginning their studies in the country.

Moreover, all international students will need to physically be in Canada if they want to count their entire Canadian education towards the length of their Post-Graduation Work Permit.

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