Indians are suddenly streaming in droves to Canada. The numbers of Indians who obtained a permanent residence to the North American country as of 2019 had more than doubled since 2016, and India was by far the largest source of immigrants that year as well.

A 2020 report found that overall migration to the nations that are members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – mostly wealthy, Western countries – had increased by 10% in 2018 almost entirely because of the number of Indians migrating to Canada.

The 2020 OECD International Migration Outlook Report also recorded a significant increase in the number of Indians migrating to countries like Germany (3,900), Italy (3,300), and Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and Sweden (approximately 2,000 each). Migration from India accounts for almost 5% of overall migration to OECD countries.

India has been ranked second both in terms of the source of migrants to the OECD countries and as the origin of naturalised citizens in these countries in 2018, the report stated. India displaced Romania as the second-largest source of migrants to move up one spot from 2017, while China retained the top spot.

According to the 2019 International Migration Outlook report, an increase of 12% from the previous year’s figure was registered in the number of emigrants moving to OECD countries from India. While immigration of Indians to the United States declined by 7%, emigration from India to the United Kingdom (+43%) and Canada (+30%) increased sharply. India accounted for 4.5% of immigration flows to OECD countries in 2017.

China has held the top position on the list since 2008. It accounted for 6.5% of total migration flows in 2018 as 430,000 migrants from the top-ranked country settled in an OECD area.

Why Canada?

Quoting National Foundation for American Policy’s analysis of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada data, a Forbes report from February 2020 said that the number of Indians admitted as Permanent Residents to Canada grew 105% from 2016 to 2019. The number of Indian international students in Canada also increased rapidly – by 127% – between 2016 and 2018, according to the Canadian Bureau for International Education.

The OECD report points to relatively low long-term unemployment in Canada, even for foreign-born men and women, as one explanation for why it might be attracting so many more immigrants. While most immigrants in the European Union and the US, especially immigrant women, remain at a higher risk of unemployment, the threat of exclusion from labour market has historically been significantly lower in Canada.

The OECD points to a few other factors that might be attracting migrants, such as a more public acceptance of different backgrounds, an “anti-racism strategy” and language training.

In 2018-19, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada updated the policies on the selection and sponsorship of newcomers to be more inclusive and diverse. Under the updated policy, fewer applicants with disabilities will be deemed inadmissible on health grounds.

The Canadian government is also in partnership with the Rainbow Refugee Society, an organisation that “supports people seeking refugee protection in Canada because of persecution based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status”.

Changes in the region may also explain why Indians are picking Canada, over the United States. US President Donald Trump regime has made it harder for immigrants in general, and particularly targeted visas that are popular among Indians. This has led to fewer Indians choosing the US, whether to study or work in.

The same period has seen Canada run a number of different programmes encouraging migrants, particularly its express-entry system that offers permanent residency invitations to highly skilled workers, even if they have not secured a job in the country. A significant number of Indians migrating to India have relied on this system, as well as Canada’s Global Talent Scheme which allows companies to process work permits and visas in a matter of weeks.

Migration outlook

The United States and Germany remained the most popular OECD countries for migrants in 2018 and 2019, although the flow of emigrants reduced in comparison to previous figures. Many other countries, especially Spain and Japan, registered an increased influx of incoming migrants. The annual OECD report on migration trends also throws light on naturalisation of immigrants, international student immigrants, and country-wise overall migration inflows.

Mexico topped the list of countries that had the highest number of their citizens acquiring citizenship of an OECD nation, while India was ranked second.

The number of Mexican citizens granted citizenship in OECD countries increased sharply both in 2017 and 2018 to reach 136,000 in 2018. Indians accounted for about 120,000 naturalisations in 2017 – 52,000 in the US and 19,000 in the UK. The level was roughly the same in 2018. Mexico and India were followed by Morocco, Philippines and China.

In 2018, 1.95 million people were granted citizenship of an OECD country, 3% more compared to 2017. European Union countries accounted for 42% of this total and the US 39%.

Migration flows

Data from 2018 revealed that approximately 2.2 million of the 3.9 million international tertiary level students in OECD countries came from Asia. China accounted for one-fourth of this figure – 904,000 students, while 317,000 international students in OECD countries were Indians.

The number of residence permits issued to international tertiary-level students in the US rose by 0.4% in 2019 after a sharp decrease from 644,000 in 2015 to 362,900 in 2018. This increase was most notable for students from China – 6.9% and India – 2.4%. Permits for students from all other countries fell by 4%.

India figures in the top-ten list of 25 OECD countries in terms of 2018 migrant inflows. While Indians formed the largest immigrant group in Australia, Canada, and Ireland, they were ranked at various other positions for a host of countries.

OECD International Migration Outlook 2020
OECD International Migration Outlook 2020
OECD International Migration Outlook 2020
OECD International Migration Outlook 2020