How more Indian students and professionals are choosing Canada over the USA?
At a breakfast event at the US Embassy in New Delhi on November 9, 2016, a senior diplomat from the Canadian High Commission discreetly fielded questions on whether more Indians would opt for permanent residence and citizenship in his country, with the new US President Donald Trump taking a hard line on immigration. Fast forward to the winter of 2017 and that trend seems to be becoming a reality. Canada is fast emerging as the preferred destination in North America.
According to the annual Open Doors report on international education released in November by the Institute of International Education (IIE), New York, and the US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the enrolment of new Indian students in US campuses remained almost flat in 2016-17, just 1.3% higher than the previous year. Over 500 American colleges and universities reported an average decrease of 7% in the number of newly enrolled students.
Though the 1,86,267 Indian students enrolled in US campuses in 2016-17 still outnumber the 1,00,000 studying in Canada, the latter is showing a significant rise in numbers. In 2016, 52,870 Indian study-permit holders went to Canada, but in 2017 the figure is already 54,425 (till October). On the other hand, the number of fresh visas (for those wishing to study in the issued to students in India was 62,537 in 2016-drop of 16.4% over the previous year.
One of the important attractions of Canada for students is the fact it is 30-40% cheaper the US, even at top universities and colleges. Besides, Trump’s stance on immigration and concerns over racist incidents are taking the shine off US campuses.
Optional practical training (OPT), a programme that allows Indian students to remain in the US after they finish their education, is facing difficulties as the H-1B work visa comes under a cloud. Employers in Canada, on other hands, are wooing Indian students studying in Canada especially those in STEM fields (science, tech, engineering, mathematics). Canada’s express entry system, in fact, creates a pathway for skilled Indians to get fast-track permanent resident status and then citizenship.