International students from India are moving to Canada in droves, with Indian students preferring a study destination that offers long-term immigration options, economic opportunity, and a calm political climate.
The Globe and Mail newspaper reports that last year 172,000 students with Indian citizenship held a Canadian study permit — 107,795 arrived in 2018 alone — making India the largest source country for international students in Canada. The cohort of new Indian students was more than three times larger than it was as recently as 2015.
The figures reveal that the second-largest cohort of international students in Canada come from China, with 142,000 Chinese nationals holding a study permit, of whom 85,825 arrived in 2018.
But what has led to a three-fold increase in Indians coming to Canada on a study permit, compared to just three years before?
Many are pointing the finger at the man who sits in the Oval Office south of the border. Since Donald Trump was elected in 2016, the United States is proposing strict new criteria for the issuance of H1-B foreign worker visas.
”With the H1-B scare, everyone is flocking to Canada,” said Vivek Girreddy, an investment banker who graduated from McGill University in 2015, speaking with the Globe and Mail.
The H1-B has been a go-to pathway to living and working in the U.S. for Indian citizens, particularly those in tech and medical occupations.
The Trump presidency, however, does not fully account for the surge in Indian students choosing Canada.
In addition to the quality of education on offer, Canada offers a three-year post-graduation open work permit, allowing international graduates to work in any field and in any location in Canada. Moreover, a job offer is not required in order to obtain this work permit.
The pathway to permanent residence for graduates in Canada is also relatively clear and straightforward, with students and graduates benefiting from bonus points under the Express Entry system, as well as a number of Provincial Nominee Programs. Applicants who can leverage Canadian study and work experience are in an even stronger position to stay permanently, and the post-graduation work permit is a major plus towards that end.
Many Indian citizens interested in studying abroad continue to apply to U.S. colleges and universities, but according to Uvrvashi Malik, founder of CollegeCore Education, one of the biggest college counselling and advisory firms in Delhi, they have also ”started adding some universities in Canada, because they are uncertain of the political atmosphere in the U.S.”
It’s related to “Trump’s policies as far as migrants are concerned,” she said when speaking with the Globe and Mail, adding that “Canada is definitely getting more popular” as a study destination.
One new Indian student in Canada told the Globe and Mail that she was attracted to the University of British Columbia, located just outside downtown Vancouver, by the expertise of its professors – and the fact that “almost all Canadian universities, especially UBC, have great funding options for international students interested in research-based programs.”
She added that “political scenarios in the U.S.” is also among the top reasons for Indian students to choose Canada, a country she had never visited before arriving to study at UBC last year.