Indians in Canada

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Migration from India to Canada

History: 1897-1967

Alind Chauhan, Sep 30, 2023: The Indian Express

Sikhs began to migrate overseas in the late 19th century as they were involved in the armed services for the British Empire, Gurharpal Singh, an emeritus professor at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, told The New Yorker magazine.

“Wherever the Empire expanded, especially in the Far East—China, Singapore, Fiji, and Malaysia—and East Africa, that’s where the Sikhs went,” Singh said.

Sikhs’ arrival in Canada began with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Kesur Singh, a Risaldar Major in the British India Army (25th Cavalry, Frontier Force), is considered the first Sikh settler to come to the country that year. He was amongst the first group of Sikh soldiers who arrived in Vancouver as part of the Hong Kong Regiment, which included Chinese and Japanese soldiers en route to celebrate the jubilee.

The first wave of Sikh migration to Canada, however, was triggered in the initial years of the 1900s. Most of the migrant Sikhs moved to the country as labourers — logging in British Columbia and manufacturing in Ontario.

“The original immigration was small, a little over 5,000, and made up of men looking for overseas employment but not intent on settling. The immigrants were classic sojourners, intent on staying no more than three to five years and on remitting home as much of their savings as possible,” according to the ‘Encyclopedia of Diasporas: Immigrant and Refugee Cultures Around the World’, edited by Melvin Ember, Carol R Ember, and Ian Skoggard.

The pushback

Although the migrants easily found work, they encountered hostility based on the perception that they were taking away jobs from localities. Not only this, the Sikhs also faced racial and cultural prejudices. The situation kept deteriorating as more and more Sikhs arrived in the country.

With the mounting public pressure, the Canadian government finally put an end to the migration by introducing stringent regulations. It made it mandatory for Asian immigrants to possess a “sum of $200, considered high enough to serve as a distinctive, and to arrive in Canada only by means of a continuous journey from their country of origin,” Nalini Kant Jha wrote in her article, ‘The Indian Diaspora in Canada: Looking Back and Ahead’ (India Quarterly, January-March, 2005, Vol 61).

As a result, immigration from India into Canada declined drastically after 1908, from 2,500 during 1907-08, to only a few dozen per year, she added.

It was during this time the Komagata Maru incident took place. In 1914, a Japanese steamship, known as Komagata Maru, reached the shores of Vancouver. It was carrying 376 South Asian passengers, most of whom were Sikhs. The immigrants were detained onboard the ship for about two months, and then escorted out of Canadian waters, sending it back to Asia.

According to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, once the ship arrived in India, an altercation between British authorities and the passengers broke out. When the altercation ended, “22 people were dead, including 16 passengers,” it added.

The turnaround

The Canadian immigration policy relaxed after the end of World War II. It happened for three main reasons.

First, it became difficult for Canada to maintain an immigration policy and practice based on racial preferences after it joined the United Nations and its declaration against racial discrimination, and membership in a multi-racial Commonwealth of equal partners, according to Jha.

Second, post WWII, Canada started to expand its economy for which it required labourers.

Third, there was a “decline in the immigration of people from Europe and the Canadian government turned to the third world countries for ‘the import of human capital,’” Paramjit S Judge, professor and head of the Department of Sociology at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, wrote in his 2003 article, ‘Social Construction of Identity in a Multicultural State: Sikhs in Canada’, published in the Economic & Political Weekly magazine.

The factors ultimately led to the introduction of the ‘points system’ in 1967 by the Canadian government that made skill alone as criteria for admission of non-dependent relatives into the country and eliminated any preferences given to one particular race.

2000-13: High immigration--followed by tight restrictions

Canada follows US, makes work visa difficult

Effective July, employers in Canada will have to pay $275 as processing fee for each application that they file to bring in a foreign worker.

Shilpa Phadnis, TNN | Aug 13, 2013

The Times of India The Times of India


BANGALORE: The decade 2003-2012 has seen a phenomenal increase in the number of Indians working in Canada, the highest amongst any single nationality.

Like the US, Canada too is tightening its temporary foreign worker program (TFWP) that allows foreign nationals to work in Canada for short periods. The effort, as Rakesh Prabhu, partner-immigration practice in ALMT Legal, says, is to improve employment opportunities for its locals.

Employers have to fill a new questionnaire that tries to figure out whether a firm is seeking to replace existing Canadian workers. Employers must advertise for the position locally three months before the application for bringing a foreign worker is filed, and the advertisement must run for four weeks compared to two weeks previously.

The latest restrictions follow a decision in April to end a provision that allowed employers to pay foreign workers as much as 15% less than the average Canadian wage for a job.

Sajan Poovayya, managing partner in law firm Poovayya & Co, said the changes would have an impact on the Indian workforce movement to Canada. "Companies in India will find it harder to use this route to ship personnel on temporary IT assignments. There will be cost over runs and time delays in sending workforce to that country. The Canadian government's decision to insist on employers who rely on temporary foreign workers to have a firm plan in place to transition to a Canadian workforce over time, will make the whole programme unattractive to Indian technology players," he said.

Canada's move comes shortly after the backlash that followed when the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) outsourced its IT services to iGate, which then replaced RBC's IT employees with foreign workers. It also comes after a ten-year period (2003 to 2012) that saw the number of Indian workers in Canada grow a whopping 730%, making them the fastest-growing foreign worker community in that country. The number of Indian foreign workers rose from 2,686 in 2003 to 22,281 in 2012, said a report by Canada Facts and Figures 2012. The French were a distant second with a growth of 332% to 18,961 workers, followed by Filipinos, who grew 280% to 23,683.

2016-18: sharp increase

Lubna Kably, July 9, 2019: The Times of India

2016-18: The 3 countries from which the largest number of people were granted permanent residency in Canada
From: Lubna Kably, July 9, 2019: The Times of India

Interest among the Indian diaspora (including those based in the US) in acquiring permanent residency in Canada continues unabated. During 2018, over 39,500 Indian citizens obtained permanent residency in Canada under the express entry system.

According to recently released statistics, in 2018 Canada admitted more than 92,000 new permanent entry residents through its express entry system, which is a rise of 41% over the previous year. Permanent residency is akin to a green card in the US.

America’s policies may be pushing more Indians to choose Canada

Interestingly, China, which occupied second rank during 2017, slipped to third rank with only about 5,800 Chinese obtaining permanent residency in 2018. Nigeria occupied second slot. The number of invites issued to Chinese citizens showed negative growth. TOI in its earlier editions has covered how the challenges faced by Indians working in the US, such as delays or denials of H-1B visa extensions, green-card backlogs, or even the proposed plan to revoke the right of H-1B spouses to work, is resulting in a migration flow to neighbouring Canada. Those based in India are also increasingly looking at Canada for employment or permanent settlement. The Global Talent Stream, which recently transited from being a pilot to a permanent scheme, enables Canadian companies to bring on board expats with a STEM background within just two weeks. This is expected to increase the flow of Indian employees to Canada. TOI in its edition of April 10 had stated that many of these GTS workers are expected to later opt for permanent residency.

Express entry is a system used by the Canadian government to manage applications from skilled and qualified workers for permanent residence through three economic immigration programmes. Under the express entry programme, candidates complete an online profile and are then placed in the express entry pool and ranked relative to each other based on their comprehensive ranking system (CRS) scores. CRS considers existence of a job offer, age, education, work experience, English and French proficiency. Those who clear the cutoff mark (the maximum is 1,200) are sent “invitations to apply” for permanent residency.

“The top countries of citizenship based on the people admitted to Canada generally mirrors those of invited candidates. Nearly half of all people admitted in 2018 had Indian citizenship,” stated Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Canada’s immigration division, in its recently released express entry report. In 2018, 41,675 invites (or 46% of the total) were sent to those holding Indian citizenship. In 2017, of the 86,022 total invites, 36,308, or 42%, were issued to Indians. Express entry draws are held periodically. The most recent was on June 21, which had a CRS cutoff threshold of 462 points and will result in 3,350 candidates being invited to take up permanent residency. Overall, Canada’s multi-year immigration levels plan is committed to welcoming more permanent residents (including those on humanitarian grounds) over three years. It has set a target of 3.30 lakh for 2019 and 3.40 lakh for 2020.

Jan-June 2017: Indians have more work visas than Chinese

Indians beat Chinese in race for Canada work visas, Aug 18 2017: The Times of India

Canada attracts more Indians than Chinese, be it for work or acquiring citizenship. Contrast this with its neighbour US, where the Chinese comparatively lead the migration trends on parameters such as acquiring green cards. However, the inflow of students to Canada from China is much higher.

Statistics for the first six months ending June 30, 2017, show that 13,670 Indians obtained work visas under Canada's international mobility programme as opposed to just 8,680 Chinese. Typically , firms can sponsor skilled workers under this programme and a labour market impact assessment is not required.

The trend was similar under the temporary foreign worker programme (a restrictive visa which requires labour market impact assessment and requires that first preference be given to local Canadians). Under it, 2,190 Indians obtained work visas as compared to 635 from China.These statistics, for the first half of the current calendar year, released by the department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), do not deviate from trends in the preceding years.

Attractiveness of the international mobility programme peaked for Indians in 2016, with 30,850 Indians having obtained such work visas, a rise of nearly 50% over the previous year.

The number of Chinese students is slightly higher, standing at 25,315 during the first half of 2017 as opposed to 20,845 from India.

While half-yearly figures of new permanent residents have not been released, Philippines and India continue to occupy the top two slots in 2016. Nearly 13% of the 2.96 lakh new permanent residents in 2016 were from India.Syria ranked third in 2016, with an influx of refugees.

From June, Canada has ushered in the Global Talent Stream Program (GTSP). It offers fast track processing of applications in two weeks and exemptions from labour market impact assessments. Companies seeking to sponsor highly qualified foreign work ers can opt for GTSP which covers ten occupations primarily in computer, electrical and IT. But GTSP applies only for short trips. Managerial or professional workers can visit Canada on short term assignments of 15 days in a six month period or 30 days in a year.

As reported by TOI earlier, the time period is too short for IT assignments at client sites. However, according to an immigration expert, this is likely to prop up the statistics for the second half of 2017.

Chinese dominate the migration landscape in US when it comes to permanent residence or green cards. According to International Migration Outlook ­ 2017, released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the inflow from China during 2015 was 74.6 thousand as opposed to 64. 1 thousand from India.

2018: 50% increase

Lubna Kably, 50% jump in Indians taking Canadian citizenship in 2018, December 26, 2018: The Times of India

No. of citizenships granted by Canada to Indians and others in 2017, 2018
From: Lubna Kably, 50% jump in Indians taking Canadian citizenship in 2018, December 26, 2018: The Times of India

Indians living in Canada are taking their immigration journey a step forward, with several thousands opting for Canadian citizenship, after having lived in the country for the specified duration as permanent residents.

Responding to a request from TOI, Canadian authorities shared some statistics. During the 10-month period ending October 2018, nearly 15,000 Indians obtained citizenship. If compared with 2017, it’s a steep rise of 50%.

As country of birth, India figured in the second-highest number of applications from those claiming Canadian citizenship. The Philippines topped this list by a slender lead: 15,600-odd Filipinos became citizens of Canada during this 10-month period, but this was a marginal increase of 11% compared to the traffic from the Philippines for the entire 12 months of 2017.

In all, 1.39 lakh permanent residents became Canadian citizens in the 10 months ended October 30; of this, the share of Indians was nearly 11%. These are preliminary figures and final statistics are estimated to be much higher. But it is still unlikely to cross the record high of 2015 when the highest number of Indians—28,000-odd—opted for Canadian citizenship, following which there was a year-on-year decline, with interest picking up again sharply in 2018.

“Since October 2017, it has become easier to qualify to apply for Canadian citizenship. In particular, the period a permanent resident must be physically present in Canada before applying for citizenship has reduced. As compared to a 4-year residency requirement out of 6 years, now a permanent resident needs to be physically present in Canada for 3 out of 5 years,” explains Ontario-based Talha Mohani, immigration law specialist and managing director at Migration Bureau Corp.

In one yr, Canada received 2.4L applications for citizenship

Unlike a permanent residency (which is akin to a green card in US), a citizenship grants more benefits, such as greater mobility, eligibility to work in the government sector, and obtaining the right to vote.

David Nachman, managing attorney at NPZ Law Group, points out an important facet of mobility, “A Canadian passport (citizenship) also facilitates individuals to apply for a Trade National (TN) visa to enter and work in the US.” While this is similar to the H-1B work visa it is not subject to the annual cap and is easier to obtain. India has emerged as the top source country for permanent residents. During 2017, 51,000-odd Indians were admitted as permanent residents. These statistics were tabled in the annual report (2018) on immigration submitted to the Canadian Parliament.

According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the federal department which facilitates arrival of immigrants to Canada, an estimated 1.53 lakh people would have obtained Canadian citizenship by October 2018—being a year from the date the new relaxed norms for citizenship came into effect. This estimate is an increase of 40% compared to the 1.08 lakh people who obtained citizenship in the same period the year before, adds the IRCC in an official release.

IRCC adds after the changes in the regulation, during the nine-month period from October 2017 to June 2018, it received 2.42 lakh applications for citizenship, over double the previous corresponding period. Despite this, the processing time continued to be within 12 months.

There are also many individuals who have not yet obtained Canadian citizenship, who commute daily from Canada to US for work. Hari (last name withheld) has a Canadian Permanent Residency, and currently works in the US on an H-1B visa. Hari describes his daily commute between Windsor area in Canada and the US border town of Detroit as easy. “The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, and my daily commute is not regarded as my having abandoned permanent residence in Canada. I will however, have to prove that I returned to Canada each day and cross-border tax implications have to be dealt with.”

2018 – 23

Chethan Kumar, Sep 25, 2023: The Times of India

BENGALURU: Amidst strained relations between India and Canada, data from the ministry of external affairs (MEA) reveals that nearly 1.6 lakh Indians, accounting for almost 20% of those renouncing their citizenship between January 2018 and June 2023, opted for Canadian nationality.

Canada has emerged as the second most preferred destination for Indian expatriates during this period, following the US, while Australia and the UK hold the third and fourth positions, respectively.

Overall, close to 8.4 lakh Indians gave up their Indian citizenship during this timeframe, becoming citizens of 114 different nations, with a substantial 58% choosing either the US or Canada.A year-wise breakdown of Indians relinquishing their citizenship displays an upward trend, except for a dip in 2020 due to the pandemic. The number surged from 1.3 lakh in 2018 to 2.2 lakh in 2022. A little over 87,000 Indians opted for foreign citizenship in the first half of 2023.

Emigration expert Vikram Shroff, Leader of HR Law at Nishith Desai Associates, points out that the top four preferences align with expectations. Many Indians prefer citizenship in developed nations where English is the dominant language.

"There are multiple reasons for emigration, including higher standard of living, children's education, employment opportunities and quality healthcare. Countries like Canada and Australia are attracting foreign talent by making it easier and quicker for people to obtain residency and citizenship," Shroff said.

The MEA recognises the significant number of Indians exploring global opportunities in the past two decades. Many have chosen foreign citizenship for personal convenience, according to the ministry.

External affairs minister S Jaishankar recently informed Parliament that the government is aware of this trend and has undertaken various initiatives to tap into the talents of the diaspora to contribute to India's national development.

"A successful, prosperous, and influential diaspora is an advantage for India, and our approach is to tap diaspora networks and utilise its reputation for national gain," Jaishankar had said. His observations were holistic and not specifically about Indians becoming Canadian citizens.

2019: Canada rejects 36% of student visas for Indians

Hemali Chhapia, Nov 10, 2019: The Times of India

Just as Canada became every Indian student’s hot favourite college destination, rejection rates for study permits soared. In the first five months of 2019, around 36% of all Indian applicants wanting to study in Canada were rejected by immigration officials. Around 29% of Indian applicants were rejected during the previous year.

Global numbers show Canadian immigration rejected over half the international students admitted to undergraduate programmes in the country’s universities between January and May. Data released by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada shows 39% of study permits worldwide were rejected in the first half of 2019.

“Canadian authorities are tough on visa permits. Their documentation requirement is huge. The number of people applying has also gone up and visa officers don’t want to let anyone just go,” said foreign education counsellor Karan Gupta. “Also, you may meet all minimum requirements but not get a visa. For instance, people in their mid-20s applying for a bachelors will not get a visa. Or someone in his mid- 30s wanting to pursue a diploma will also get rejected.” Canada also does not encourage track changes. “If there is no clarity on how the course is relevant to the career path, visa is refused,” said another counsellor Pratibha Jain.

A Canadian study permit allows international students to stay in the country for the entire duration of their study programme. A permit is not required for under six-month courses. Canadian officials can turn down applications on several grounds — insufficient proof of financial support for the study programme, if a student is a health or security threat to Canada or if the details are incomplete or suspected to be fraudulent.

In 2018-19, Canada upstaged the US in terms of the count of fresh Indian students. Canadian government data shows it issued 50,060 study permits by July 2019; data for the previous year showed around 44,000. While US continues to host the largest population of Indian students, those making a fresh choice, are opting for Canada, say experts.

2019: 1 in 4 who got Canada PR tag was an Indian

Lubna Kably, 1 in 4 who got Canada PR tag in 2019 an Indian, February 13, 2020: The Times of India

Number of Indians in Canada, 2018-19;
19% increase in overall total between 2017 and 2019
From: Lubna Kably, 1 in 4 who got Canada PR tag in 2019 an Indian, February 13, 2020: The Times of India

One in 4 foreigners granted permanent resident (PR) status in Canada last year was an Indian.

Of the 3.41 lakh such individuals admitted in 2019—exceeding Canada’s immigration target by some 10,000—85,585 (25.1%) were from India. In fact, it was the second consecutive year that Canada has granted permanent residency to more than 3 lakh foreigners.

PR is akin to a US green card, with the family acquiring the right to live, work or study anywhere in Canada.

The overall 2019 figures show a rise of 6.2% over the 3.21 lakh admitted in 2018. When compared with the 2.86 lakh figure of 2017, it denotes a rise of just over 19%.

The trend is expected to continue; the admission target for all immigration categories set by the Canadian government for the current calendar year is 3.41 lakh and 3.5 lakh for next year.

Indians continued to top the chart of source countries (based on citizenship) opting for PR, showing a rise of 22.3% over the previous year and 66% when compared to 2017.

The PR-seekers include not only those migrating directly from India, but also H-1B visa holders in US, who owing to challenges relating to renewals and decades-long wait for a green card move to Canada. TOI had spotted and reported this trend in its edition of June 15, 2018.

China, with just 30,260 being admitted as permanent residents, was a distant second, accounting for nearly 9% of the total number. Immigrants from China grew by just 1.85% over the previous year. If compared with 2017 statistics the rise is a minuscule 0.03%. Philippines, Nigeria and US rounded up the top five source countries of new permanent residents.

Past trends show that a significant portion (80% plus) of eligible immigrants go on to obtain Canadian citizenship. A person who is in Canada temporarily, like a foreign student or an employee who will only work for a few years, is not a permanent resident.

Of the 3.41 lakh individuals granted permanent residence during 2019, 58% (1.96 lakh) were admitted under the economic class; 27% arrived through family sponsorship; and the remaining 15% were refugees granted permanent residency.

“Canada continues to welcome higher levels of immigration from all corners of the globe to support its economic growth. Indian nationals are comprising a larger share of Canada’s immigrants since majority of them are eligible for more than 80 economic class pathways operated by Canada,” David Cohen, senior partner at Campbell Cohen, a Canadian immigration law firm, told TOI.

For instance, the Express Entry point-based immigration system was introduced in January, 2015 to enable skilled immigrants to work and obtain a permanent residency and is a popular route for Indians. Three economic immigration categories are covered by the Express Entry system—these are the Federal Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Trades Class. It is a point based system, the two recent draws in January had seen a cut-off score of 473 and 471 points and 3,400 invites for permanent residency will be issued for each round. TOI had done a two part story in its editions of May 18 and 22, 2019.

In addition to the above, provincial nomination programs, enable provinces and territories to address their own needs and introduce many unique immigration entry streams, which can be explored by aspiring immigrants.

However, immigration experts sound a word of caution. Canada opening its doors to immigrants has resulted in scams across the globe (including India) and people have been duped by dubious agents with job offers and fake visas.


Lubna Kably, Desis got 47% of invites for Canadian residency in 2019, June 28, 2020: The Times of India

Indian citizens bagged 40,275 invites to apply for permanent residence in Canada, under the ‘Express Entry’ route. This is 47% of the total invites (85,300) which were issued to Express Entry candidates during 2019 by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. A fair share of these Indians includes those already working in Canada or migrating from the US — owing to the Trump administration’s increasing protectionist immigration regime.

As per a newly released report, the overall 2019 figure of 85,300 is a slight decline from the 89,800 invitations issued in 2018. Likewise, the number of invites to Indians declined by 3.36% from the previous year’s figure of 41,678.

Express Entry is a system used by the Canada government to manage applications from skilled and qualified workers, for permanent residence through three economic immigration programmes — Federal Skilled Worker Class, Canadian Experience Class and the Federal Skilled Trades Class. It is a point-based system.

2020: Canada welcomes 4,01,000 new permanent residents

Lubna Kably, Dec 25, 2021: The Times of India

Invites for permanent residency and admissions, 2019-20
From: [The Times of India]

MUMBAI: After a little over a hundred years, Canada hit an historic high by welcoming more than 4.01 lakh new permanent residents during 2021, thus meeting its immigration levels target. The targets for the coming years are 4.11 lakh in 2022 and 4.21 lakh in 2023.

However, owing to the pandemic, the ‘Express Entry’ draws, which is the popular point-based permanent residence program in Canada for skilled workers focused on the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) and Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) categories. As these covered individuals already in Canada on temporary visas they were not impacted by the Covid-19 fuelled travel restrictions.

A country wise break up of the figures of 2021 are not available, but going by past trends Indians are likely to constitute around 40% of this historic total.

The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) – the immigration unit of the Canadian government, has recently released the ‘Express Entry Report-2020’, which provides country-wise data.

In 2020, Indian citizens bagged 50,841 invites to apply for permanent residence in Canada, under the ‘Express Entry’ route. This is 47% of the total invites (1.07 lakh) which were issued by IRCC. The ratio has remained unchanged from the previous year, when Indian citizens got 40,314 invites.

For the past several years, India has led the charts both in terms of the number of invites issued to its citizens for permanent residency.

Candidates that receive an invitation to apply have 90 days to either decline the invitation or submit an online application for permanent residence to IRCC. After a due process, applicants and their accompanying family members become permanent residents when they are admitted to Canada.

The year 2020 saw a drop in those admitted into Canada as permanent residents. Only 63,923 principal applicants and their accompanying family members were admitted during this year, as compared to 1.09 lakh in the previous year. This year saw 27,660 Indian applicants and their family members being admitted as permanent residents, as compared to 50,848 in 2019. Even on the parameter of admission, Indians led – and comprised 43% of the total admissions into Canada. Permanent residence is akin to the green card in the US – it is often the first step towards transition to citizenship.

Prior to the pandemic, a significant number of new permanent residents came from their own home country – rather than a transition of temporary visa holders to permanent residents. With the focus on CEC and PNP class for Express Entry draws, 63% of the invites for permanent residence were issued to those already in Canada. Correspondingly, the number of invited candidates who were present in India, dropped to 10% from 18% in 2019.

Residency invites: 2022

Lubna Kably, Sep 28, 2023: The Times of India

The number of immigrants invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada under the Express Entry system dropped by 59% in 2022 compared to the previous year. Indians continued to be the highest number of invitees, followed by citizens from Nigeria and China. The decline in invites is attributed to the temporary halting of draws for the Federal Skilled immigrant programs.

MUMBAI: The number of immigrants invited to apply for permanent residence in Canada, under its point-based Express Entry system, dropped to 46,539 during 2022. This is a staggering decline by 59% from the previous year’s statistic of 1.14 lakh invites.

However, Indians continued to top the charts, as they have for the past several years.

20,769 Indian citizens were invited to be permanent residents during 2022, which constitute nearly 45% of the total invites that were issued during this year.

Next in line were citizens from Nigeria who obtained 2,909 (6% of the invites) and Chinese who bagged 2,456 invites (5% of the invites).

India Canada News: 1.6 lakh Indians took Canada citizenship and left India between Jan 2018 to June 2023

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the immigration unit of the Canadian government, has just released the ‘Express Entry Report-2022’, which provides country-wise data. Immigration experts attribute the lower number of draws in 2022 to the temporary halting of draws relating to ‘Federal Skilled’ immigrant programs during the period September 2021 up to July 2022. The Express Entry system consists of three core programs, typically the Federal Skilled Worker Program is the most significant in contributing to the permanent resident intake.

In 2021, IRCC had held 1.14 lakh Express Entry draws and 65,565 Indians or 57% of the total had obtained invites to apply for permanent residence. This was followed by Chinese with 9,590 invites (or 8%) and South Koreans with 3,131 invites (or nearly 3%).

In 2022, as in earlier years, software engineers and designers, information systems specialists and computer systems developers and programmers, which are related mainly to the technological field, were the most common occupations.

In each draw, aspiring candidates are ranked relative to each other based on a score under the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Those who meet the cut-off score are sent an invitation to apply. CRS factors in various aspects such as age, qualification, experience, French proficiency et al. Candidates that receive an invitation to apply have 90 days to either decline the invitation or submit an online application for permanent residence to IRCC. After a due process, applicants and their accompanying family members become permanent residents when they are admitted to Canada.

According to data crunched by TOI for the year 2023, till date 29 draws have been held and 79,448 invites have been issued. A major chunk of permanent residents’ inflow is via the Express Entry system. Given the current strained ties with India, which is the most significant source-country and also the acute housing shortage, it remains to be seen whether Canada will achieve its target of 4.65 lakh permanent residents in 2023.

Changes to Express Entry draws have been introduced recently, and category-based selection has been introduced. Category-based selection draws during 2023 will focus on candidates who have a strong French language proficiency or work experience in the following fields: Healthcare occupations (this includes general practitioners, licensed nurses, dentists); Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations (this includes data scientists, data analysts, computer engineers, civil engineers); Trade occupations (this includes as carpenters, plumbers, electricians); Transport occupations (this includes pilots, aero engineers, truck drivers) and lastly Agriculture and agri-food occupations.

TOI deep dived into the data of draws held during 2023. A STEM specific draw held on July 5, had resulted in 500 invites (it had a cut-off score of 486 points); a healthcare occupation draw held a day later had resulted in 1500 invites, with a cut-off score of 463 points. More recently, on September 20, the draw resulted in 1000 invites being sent to those in the transport occupation with a cut-off score of 435 points.

Indians vis-à-vis the Chinese, others

2015-18/ 19

Indian migrants to Canada vis-à-vis Filipinos and Chinese, 2015-18/ 19
From: Nov 8, 2019: The Times of India

See graphic:

Indian migrants to Canada vis-à-vis Filipinos and Chinese, 2015-18/ 19


Punjabi: 4th language in Canada/ 2022

IP Singh, August 19, 2022: The Times of India

Punjabi has become the fourth most spoken language in Canada, registering a 49% growth in the last five years. According to the census data of 2021 released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday, Mandarin and Punjabi are the most spoken languages in the country after Canada’s two official languages — English and French. Mandarin speakers number at around 5. 3 lakh and Punjabi speakers have been recorded at 5. 2 lakh. But, Punjabi’s growth has been faster as Mandarin speakers grew by 15% from 2016 to 2021, while the growth of Punjabi speakers was 49% during the same period.

The report released by Statistics Canada noted that use of other Indian languages is also growing in Canada. The report noted that while the Canadian population increased by 5. 2% during this period, driven mainly by immigration, the number of Canadians who mostly spoke a South Asian language at home grew faster, “particularly speakers of Malayalam (+129% to 35,000 people), Hindi (+66% to 92,000 people), Punjabi (+49% to 520,000 people) and Gujarati (+43% to 92,000 people). In fact, the growth rate of the number of speakers of these languages was eight times more than that of the entire Canadian population”. The report noted that despite the impact of the Covid pandemic on arrivals to the country, immigration had continued to enrich Canada’s linguistic diversity.

Share of PIOs in Canada's population

2015: Punjabi is 3rd language in Canada House

The Times of India, Nov 03 2015

Punjabi now third-most spoken language in Canada's parliament

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TORONTO: Four years after Punjabi became Canada's third most common language, it has now attained the same status in the country's new Parliament, after English and French, following the election of 20 Punjabi-speaking candidates to the House of Commons.

Twenty-three Members of Parliament of South Asian-origin were elected to the House of Commons, Parliament of Canada, in the October 19 parliamentary elections.

Three of them, Chandra Arya - born and raised in India, Gary Anandasangaree - a Tamil, and Maryam Monsef - of Afghan origin, do not speak Punjabi, The Hill Times Online reported.

Of the 20 who speak Punjabi, 18 are Liberals and two are Conservatives. Among the newly-elected Punjabi-speaking MPs, 14 are males and six are females. Ontario elected 12, British Columbia four, Alberta three and one is from Quebec.

Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau is scheduled to unveil his Cabinet this week and some of these Liberal MPs are expected to be included in the front bench.

"The voice of the Indo-Canadian community will now be very well represented in the Parliament. In the overall aspect of it, the South Asian community won," MP Deepak Obhrai of Conservative Party said.

In an interview with the paper, Navdeep Bains, a Liberal MP, said although 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs have been elected, these MPs represent all constituents regardless of their party affiliation or ethnic origin.

"It speaks to our commitment to diversity and allowing individual [MPs] to play an important role in our political institutions. The main issue to understand is that we have a very clear mandate to execute our platform and we also have a responsibility to represent our constituents, which are very diverse," Bains said.

Iqra Khalid, the Liberal MP who was born in Pakistan, said the diversity of the newly-elected House reflects the true make-up of Canada.

According to Statistics Canada's 2011 National Household Survey, 430,705 Canadians identified Punjabi as their mother tongue, making it the third most common language after English and French.

The 430,705 native Punjabi speakers make up about 1.3 per cent of Canada's population. The 20 Punjabi-speaking MPs represent almost six per cent of the House of Commons.

2021, a PIO defence minister

Oct 27, 2021: The Times of India

TORONTO: Indian-origin Canadian politician Anita Anand was on Tuesday appointed as the country's new defence minister in a cabinet reshuffle by PM Justin Trudeau, over a month after his Liberal Party returned power in the snap polls and amid calls for major military reforms. Anand, a 54-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, is just the second woman to serve as Canada's defence minister. She led the country's efforts to purchase vaccines in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anand replaces Indian-origin Harjit Sajjan, whose handling of the military sexual misconduct crisis has been under criticism. Sajjan has been appointed as minister of international development agency, a report in National Post newspaper said. According to a report in Global News, Anand has been touted as a strong contender for weeks among defence industry experts who said that moving her into the role would send a powerful signal to survivors and victims of military sexual misconduct that the government is serious about implementing reforms.

Indian-origin Kamal Khera, the 32-year-old MP from Brampton West, took oath as minister for seniors, taking the number of Indo-Canadian ministers in the Trudeau cabinet to three. The sitting Indo-Canadian woman minister Bardish Chagger, who held the ministry of diversity, inclusion and youth of Canada, has been shuffled out. Anand and Khera are among six women ministers in the new cabinet.

Khera, a registered nurse, has been praised for going back to work as a healthcare provider at the peak of the pandemic. A three-time MP since 2015, Khera has also served as a parliamentary secretary to the ministers of health and international trade.

Anita was born in 1967 in Nova Scotia to Indian parents who were both medical professionals. Her mother Saroj D Ram came from Punjab and father S V Anand from Tamil Nadu. Anita, who is on leave as a professor of law at the University of Toronto, was picked up as minister of public service and procurement by PM Trudeau in 2019. Anita assisted the Air India Inquiry Commission with extensive research. The commission investigated the bombing of Air India Kanishka Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, that killed all 329 people on board. Before Anand, Canada's only woman defence minister was former PM Kim Campbell who held the portfolio for six months in 1993. agencies

Sikh population


The Sikh population in Canada, Province – Wise, in 2020
From: Sachin Parashar & Chidanand Rajghatta TNN, Sep 20, 2023: The Times of India

See graphic:

The Sikh population in Canada, Province – Wise, in 2020


Number of Indian students, 2004, 2015

Lubna Kably, Canada's new residency points plan to aid Indians, Nov 21 2016 : The Times of India

Number of Chinese, Indian and French students studying in Canada, 2015

According to Canadian government statistics published by the Canadian Magazine of Immigration, the number of foreign students in Canada has more than doubled over the past decade from 1.72 lakh in 2004 to 3.56 lakh as at the end of 2015. India was the second largest source country , since 2012. The number of Indian students rose by 630% from just 6,675 in 2004 to 48,914 in 2015, constituting 13.7% of the total foreign student population. Engineering, including IT, business management, pharmacy related courses and hospitality management are generally top choices for Indian students wishing to study in Canada.

Number of Indian and Chinese students, 2017

Lubna Kably, Canada speeds up student visa process for Indians, June 27, 2018: The Times of India


The number of Indian students opting for studies in Canada is on the rise

The new program cuts down the processing time for study permits (which are student visas) to within 45 days as opposed to within 60 days will be helpful.

Canada has introduced a faster and simpler visa processing mechanism for students from India and three other countries. The number of Indian students opting for studies in Canada is on the rise + and this new program which cuts down the processing time for study permits (which are student visas) to within 45 days as opposed to within 60 days will be helpful.

Students from India, China, Vietnam and Philippines who demonstrate upfront that they have the requisite financial resources and language skills to succeed academically in Canada are eligible to opt for the newly introduced ‘Student Direct Stream’ (SDS) program.

The erstwhile Student Partners Program (SPP) that entailed less visa documentation and quicker processing was more narrow in scope and available only to students applying to 40 odd participating Canadian colleges. On the other hand, the SDS program, introduced in early June, is available to students opting for post-secondary courses (ie: college education) at all designated learning institutes, according to a statement issued by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), which is the Canadian government’s immigration division.

This announcement almost coincides with the UK’s government decision to exclude Indian students from easier visa norms. Given the growing protectionism in UK and USA, the number of Indian students opting for Canada is steadily growing. Indian students obtained 83,410 study permits during 2017, a rise of 58% over the previous year.

Earlier, including during 2015 and 2016, Chinese students were the largest class of international students to be allotted the study permits. India topped this list in 2017, with its students garnering 26% of the total study permits issued in that year, with China following closely behind. The trend of Indian students being the largest class of international students is is more pronounced during the period January to April 2018, with 29,000 odd Indian students obtaining the study permits as opposed to 16,925 from China. These statistics are based on an analysis done by TOI, of the open data available on the Canadian government’s website (see table).

According to the Canadian Bureau for International Education, a non-profit agency in the educational domain, there were 4.95 lakh international students studying in Canada at the end of 2017, a rise of 20%. In an email reply to TOI, a spokesperson from the IRCC said that top source countries for international students, who were present in Canada as of December 3, 2017, were China (with 1.40 lakh students), India (with 1.24 lakh students) and Republic of Korea (with 23,050 students).

Ontario-based Talha Mohani, immigration law specialist and managing director at Migration Bureau Corp, explains the nitty-gritty of the SDS program “A study permit application is assessed in terms of eligibility and admissibility, which include finance, language and medical. Under the SDS program several of these criteria are to be satisfied upfront. The student must pay the first semester tuition fee, in addition to buying a guaranteed investment certificate of Canadian $ 10,000. A minimum score of 6 for English in the International English Language Testing System is also required. The applicant also has to submit a copy of the upfront medical exam confirmation document. Given that some key criteria are met upfront when the application is made, enables the IRCC to reduce the time required to verify and complete the assessment process.”

“Canadian education and work experience (internship experience counts) are extremely valuable when it comes to job prospects in Canada,” cites a job facilitator. Cynthia Murphy, interim India regional manager at Canadian Immigrant Integration Program, says, “Canadian college students including international students usually complete a work placement (internship) as part of their study course. This enables them to connect with future employers.”

According to IRCC, “The SDS complements the express entry system as these students will be well placed to continue on the path to permanent residence and Canadian citizenship after completing their studies in Canada, if they wish to.”The express entry program for permanent residency in Canada is point based and a Canadian education helps garner extra points. Mohani explains that an applicant can get 15 extra points for a post secondary education program in Canada which is of a one to two year duration and 30 points if it is of a duration of three years or more. While official data is not available on the most popular courses that Indian students opt for, industry watchers say that business management, civil engineering, software engineering, medicine, and hospitality are some of the popular courses.

2018, 2019: 68.3% increase in study permits

Lubna Kably and Yogita Rao, February 18, 2020: The Times of India

Indian, Chinese and Korean students in Canada: 2017- 2019
From: Lubna Kably and Yogita Rao, February 18, 2020: The Times of India

The number of Indian students to be granted a study permit by Canada’s immigration agency, exceeded one lakh for the second consecutive year. In 2019, Canada approved of a little over than 4 lakh study permits of which 1.39 lakh or 34.5% went to Indian students, followed by Chinese who bagged 21% of the new study permits. In 2018, Canada had granted a total of 3.55 lakh study permits — the newly released figures for 2019 signify an overall increase of 13.8% over the previous year.

An analysis of the past three years shows that while the number of Chinese students to be granted a study permit has shown a miniscule decline, the inflow of students from India is steadily on the rise. The number of Chinese students to be granted study permits in 2019, at 84,710 was slightly lower than the previous year’s figure of 85,165. In contrast the number of Indian students to be granted a study permit has increased by 30.3% to 1.39 lakh, over the previous year’s figure of 1.07 lakh. With just 82,990 permits granted to Indian students in 2017, it reflects a 68.3% increase over two years.

Canada is increasingly attracting more foreign students. This can be attributed to various factors such as uncertainties relating to optional training programmes (OPT) for international students in US — some of these issues were settled via court intervention. Post completion of US studies there are also challenges in obtaining an H-1B visa (the most commonly used work visa) for those at the entry level.

Karan Gupta, a study abroad career counsellor, said, “If a student studies in Canada he or she is more likely to land a wellpaying job and settle down in the country. This is the primary reason for the numbers going up.” He added that the country is perceived to be safe and welcoming of foreigners. “The country also has some world-renowned universities such as the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and McGill university and students are keen to attend these universities,” said Gupta. With the UK now offering a two-year work permit to students from next year, some students who were considering Canada may now consider UK, he added.

Canada permits students to work part-time and fund their studies and a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is available for a maximum of up to three years (based on the study course). The Canadian education and work experience, also helps garner higher points under the Express Entry route, if the erstwhile student wishes to obtain permanent residency. To top it all, job opportunities in the technology space are increasing in Canada. “Education is a by-product of the desire to get a livelihood. Students are seeing Canada as an easier option for migration,” said KP Singh, CEO of Institute of Management and Foreign Studies.

Wuhan, As in 2020

Hemali Chhapia, Wuhan was a magnet for medical aspirants from India, February 4, 2020: The Times of India

MUMBAI: Wuhan was on no one’s radar till only few years back.

The epicentre of corona virus is now host to hundreds of medical aspirants from around the world, including India. It became a magnet, attracting medical aspirants from India after it started offering MBBS in English a year back.

Hundreds queued up outside Wuhan and 45 Chinese institutes which offer medicine in the lingua franca. Data in 2019 shows that 21,000 Indian students signed up at Chinese medical schools, taking the neighbour to the No 1 position for wannabe doctors. Besides the 45 colleges, some Indians are enrolled in 200-odd colleges where they study in English/Chinese languages.

Russia, with 58 institutes enlisted by Medical Council of India, sees a little over 6,000 Indians flying in to pursue MBBS. Yet, as per information from National Board of Examinations, the pass percentage of students, graduated from medical colleges in Russia and China, in Foreign Medical Graduate Exam (FMGE) in 2015-18 is 12.91% and 11.67% respectively.

“Medical aspirants look at all avenues as getting medical admission is very difficult and expensive. Countries like China offer cheaper medical studies and same, if not better, infrastructure as India,” said Karan Gupta, a counsellor who works with students heading abroad.

Average tuition for a Chinese medical university is $2,000-3,000 annually, plus $1,000 for living expenses. In 2015, there were over 13,500 Indian students in China, as India ranked among top 10 nations sending students to Chinese varsities.

China, a large student-sending country, became the third most-favoured nation of international students after US and UK. It also paced up as a host destination and is the fifth ranked choice for Indians leaving shores for education.

“China is selling the medical programme very strongly among Indians. They started teaching in English and their institutes are recognised by WHO,” said another counsellor, Pratibha Jain. With new recruits joining English medium medical course, Gupta and other experts feel students getting back after graduation have a better chance at cracking FMGE and getting a licence to practice in India.

See also

Canada- India relations

Indians in Canada

Indians in Canadian politics

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