US vs Canada
Source: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP

The pandemic has settled the age-old debate of US vs Canada for international students. Over the past couple of years, the country has solidified its appeal as a study destination thanks to its accommodating immigration policies and support measures. Now, figures out of India’s ministry of external affairs proves that more Indian students are choosing to travel to Canada over the US.

As Canada’s deputy high commissioner to India, Amanda Strohan told The Times of India, “[Canadian] colleges are leaders in applied higher education, offering a variety of recognised credentials including university transfer programmes, academic and applied degrees, and post-graduate diplomas.”

Immigration Canada stated: Although the US population is almost nine times the size of Canada’s, there are more international students from India with Canadian study permits than there are with American study permits.

There are currently 215,720 Indian students holding Canadian study permits, which is 1.8% more than the 211,930 in the US. The Canadian High Commission in Delhi alone issued 100,000 study permits in the first four years of 2021, which is 4.2% higher than the same period in 2019.

travel to Canada

Latest data settle the US vs Canada debate for Indian students. Students from all over the world are pivoting their decisions based on how countries have handled the pandemic. Indian students make up a large part of this demographic. Source: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America/Getty Images via AFP

The difference may be small now, but trends indicate a growing preference for Canada for several reasons. It will be driven by recent immigration measures, such as the introduction of the open work permit in the interim of Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) approval. On top of that, online students who are unable to travel to Canada can still complete their degree entirely online, and qualify for the PGWP.

US vs Canada: Easier to stay and work in the latter

This finding corresponds with what study abroad agents have been saying in 2021: Canada is the most attractive study destination. “Both its policies and its messaging to international students hit all the right notes,” a survey detailed in May.

“In particular, it allowed existing permit holders to travel into the country after borders were closed, it provided international students with access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and it communicated openly and positively to international students and their families throughout.”

When it comes to US vs Canada, the latter is winning. Critics trace the preference for Canada over the US back to the Trump presidency. “The Trump administration’s adverse immigration policies, which were not welcoming of students, pushed them to other countries like Canada, Australia, and the UAE,” Strohan opined.

Did you know that three in 10 international graduates successfully immigrate to Canada? The prospect of well-paid work abroad and permanent residency draws more Indian students to travel to Canada each year. According to IRCC, the number of Indians in Canada gaining PR status in Canada grew 105% from 2016 to 2019. Good jobs and an inclusive society promise a high quality of life for these graduates.