immigrate to Canada
More international graduates want to carve a pathway to residency in Canada, which bodes well for its immigration goals. Source: Jon Cherry/Getty Images/AFP

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) data shows that three in 10 international students immigrate to Canada after completing their studies — a trend that is expected to gain prominence as Canada’s international student enrolment bounces back post-pandemic. IRCC issued 519,800 more study permits in 2020 compared to 2019.

A Statistics Canada report outlined how 30% of international students who arrived in the country after 2000 became permanent residents within 10 years of receiving their first study permit. This consists of 50% of all master’s degree students and 60% of doctoral degree students, corresponding with Canada’s need for highly skilled graduates. The report also exhibited a clear incline in the number of international enrolments since 2000.

immigrate to Canada

Graduates with higher-level degrees and salaries have more incentive to apply for Canadian PR. Source: Cole Burston/AFP

More Indians, Nigerians immigrate to Canada

Analysis shows that most international students who immigrate to Canada come from India. For example, 46% of the new permanent residents between 2010 and 2014 were of Indian nationality, followed by Nigeria (30%) and Vietnam (21%). Students who work in the country post-graduation (particularly on the Post-Graduate Work Permit) are 60% more likely to immigrate to Canada, especially since work experience is an important criterion of eligibility.

Graduates with higher salaries are also more likely to become residents. The report showed that 87% of students who made more than 50,000 Canadian dollars annually between 2005 and 2009 went on to immigrate to Canada. Comparatively, only 46% of those earning below CA$20,000 stayed on.

International students who later immigrate to Canada are contributing to a population growth rebound in 2021, placing the country firmly back on track to meeting its immigration target. A recent report from the Royal Bank of Canada shows that international migration has recovered to pre-pandemic levels, primarily due to the return of international students and post-graduate visa holders. Canada has welcomed 91,605 new permanent residents as of April 2021, and is aiming for 38,000 more by year’s end.

Study and work experience in Canada are important prerequisites when applying for permanent residency, which foreign graduates may access via multiple pathways. The country’s ageing population and low birth rate creates a growing need for young, skilled individuals to immigrate to Canada.  The federal government’s push for new permanent residents means international students are increasingly viewed as a promising pool of skilled individuals who could be one of the country’s 401,000 new permanent residents, if they have a degree from a Canadian institution.