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Canada Emerges as Preferred Destination for Indian International Students

Austin Campbell

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Indian International Students

In recent years, Canada has witnessed a significant surge in the number of Indian international students and skilled workers choosing the country as their preferred destination for education and employment opportunities. This trend marks a notable shift away from traditional choices like the United States, owing to Canada’s more favorable immigration policies and welcoming stance towards foreign talent.

The Shift Towards Canada

According to a recent policy brief titled “International Students in Canada and the United States” by the National Foundation for American Policy, the number of Indian students and highly skilled foreign nationals opting for Canada has quadrupled since 2013. The report attributes this trend to Canada’s immigration policies, which are perceived as more conducive to attracting and retaining talent compared to those of the United States.

Factors Driving the Preference

One of the key factors driving Indian nationals towards Canada is the relative ease of obtaining permanent residency (PR) and high-skilled temporary visas. Unlike the US, which has stringent H-1B visa regulations and limited pathways to permanent residence, Canada offers expedited processing and no annual caps on high-skilled temporary visas. This makes Canada an attractive option for Indian students and professionals seeking long-term opportunities abroad.

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Challenges in the US

In contrast, obtaining an H-1B visa in the US has become increasingly challenging, especially for recent graduates. The per-country limit and low annual caps on employment-based green cards mean that highly educated Indians may face significant delays, sometimes spanning decades, in securing permanent residency in the US. This disparity in immigration pathways has led many Indian nationals to opt for Canada over the US.

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Impact on Education Sector

The rise in Indian international students has had a significant impact on Canadian universities, with enrolment numbers witnessing a staggering increase. Between 2000 and 2021, international student enrolment in Canadian universities surged by 544%, with 45% of the overall enrolment increase attributed to international students. In comparison, enrolment in US universities experienced a decline, particularly among Indian students, further highlighting Canada’s growing appeal as an education destination.

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