209,000 people in over 190 countries were asked to name the foreign country where they would most like to work and the unequivocal answer is—Canada.
Traditionally, the US has been the preferred foreign work destination for skilled workers across the globe. However, four years of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies combined with the country’s ham-handed response to the Covid-19 pandemic led to the US falling out of favor.
Of course, there’s more to Canada’s popularity than just US mistakes.
Over the past decade, Canada has heavily invested in its immigration policies, procedures, and systems. The Express Entry Expression of Interest system was praised by the OECD as the ideal template for the global immigration system.
Canada has shifted emphasis from temporary low-skill immigrants to attracting high-skilled permanent residents into the country. This was done through a combination of federal programs, a transparent application system, and more powers to provinces to create their own immigration programs and streams.
Canada’s immigration system is flexible enough to accommodate changing needs of its provinces.
The BC Tech pilot has been a huge success that has helped British Columbia attract thousands of tech workers into the province. Similarly, the Atlantic Immigration pilot helped Prince Edward Island become the fastest growing economy in the country.
Provinces are free to reduce immigration as well. Quebec cut its immigration targets to protect jobs for native Canadians. With its economic prospects more stable, the province has raised immigration targets to boost its pandemic-hit economy.
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The X-Factor—International Students
Canada’s rise to the top of rankings for foreign workers was preceded by a similar rise among international students as well. Canada has seen a huge surge in number of international admissions over the past four-five years.
This seems to suggests foreign students consider work permit and immigration opportunities along with conventional factors like quality and cost of education when choosing a foreign student destination.
Canada’s Express Entry-FSWP route is open to all skilled workers with more than one year of work experience. This means even a student who gains work experience when studying can qualify for direct PR through the FSWP.
For others, the Post Graduation Work Permit allows international graduates to stay and work in Canada for up to three years. Obviously, these graduates can easily qualify for permanent residence at the end of three-year PGWP.
Further, different provincial nomination programs have setup streams specifically for international students graduating from institutions in the province. The AIPP too has a stream for students graduating from one of the four Atlantic provinces. If you have a job offer in the province, then you can qualify for PR through the AIPP even if you have zero work experience.
The X-factor here is that students have so many options. Work and study and qualify for the FSWP. Or, get a PGWP, work for three years, and then qualify through FSWP or CEC Express Entry programs.
Or, opt for the international graduate streams of various PNPs. Or, setup a business in the province and qualify for the two-step entrepreneur visa. Or, explore your startup idea through the Federal Startup Visa program.
The Pandemic Factor
Another reason that may have contributed to Canada’s rise is the way it has handled the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike the US, there was no unseemly and unnecessary controversies on wearing masks, staying indoors, or even whether the pandemic was really a big deal.
Further, Canada did not use the pandemic to shut down immigration and create problems for foreign skilled workers. Instead, the system worked normally, EE and PNP draws continued to take place, and people continued to receive Invitations to Apply.
Travel restrictions may have forced Canada to focus on applicants already in Canada but immigrants have complete clarity about their future in the country.
With economic recovery dependent on availability of skilled workers, Canada seems to be in a great position as compared to its southern neighbor.
Planning Your Canada Immigration Journey
Multiple work permit and PR programs, streams, and options is definitely a good thing but this can all be a bit overwhelming for somebody planning to immigrate to Canada. This is where you need the assistance, guidance, and advice of a qualified and experienced immigration professional.