In the past two decades, the stream of immigrants from India has become a tidal wave. Nearly 40,000 Indian citizens were approved for permanent residency under the country's Express Entry system in 2018 alone. So what makes Canada such a great destination for Indians who want to live and work abroad, you might ask? And why would they choose Canada over traditional destinations like London or Silicon Valley?
Read on to discover just five of the many reasons why Indians are choosing to bring their skills, their drive, and their hard work to Canada.
A vibrant tech and innovation economy
Once reliant on its abundant natural resources, Canada has successfully transitioned into a modern knowledge-driven economy. The country is now on the leading edge in fields such as cloud software, artificial intelligence (AI), biotech and financial technology (“fintech”). This economy is bolstered by record venture capital investment in the country's startups.
At a time when Brexit is causing serious economic and political turmoil in the U.K., and an escalating trade war between U.S. and China is exacerbating underlying signs of instability in the American economy, the Canadian economy's diversity, stability and relative independence from these geopolitical events makes the country an even better choice for Indian migrant workers in 2019.
Welcoming environment for immigrants
Canada's commitment in January to bring in 1 million new immigrants in the next three years stands in stark contrast with America's increasingly restrictive immigration policies. The number of H1B visas — awarded to businesses via a lottery system to bring in foreign workers to fill job sectors with major skills gaps — granted in the U.S. last year declined 10% from the year before. Canada, meanwhile, welcomed more immigrants in 2018 than they had in over 100 years. In short, Canadians as a group recognize the importance of immigrants to their economy and to their culture. The evidence is the country's common-sense immigration policies.
Strong Indian communities
Part of what makes the transition for immigrants in Canada so easy are the tight-knit immigrant communities. Urban Toronto contains dozens of ethnic enclaves, including a Chinatown, a Koreatown, a Little Italy and a Little India, where immigrants can meet and mingle with people of similar ethnic backgrounds as their own, while getting a taste of home.
This is particularly true for Indian immigrants, who make up one of the largest visible minority groups in the country. Statistics Canada, the Canadian census agency, reports that South Asians make up 4.8% of the country's population. That number is even greater in Ontario, where 7.6% of the population identifies as South Asian. And the number of South Asians in the greater Toronto area is nearly 1 million, concentrated in areas like Brampton. So if you're an Indian citizen considering immigrating to Canada, be rest assured that you'll have a rich support network to rely on during your transition.
Cost of living
Central business districts aside, affordable housing options are abound in Canada, including cities with large Indian migrant communities such as Brampton (average one-bedroom rent: CA$1737). Compare that to even suburban Bay Area cities, such as Fremont (average one-bedroom rent: CA$4037), and it's clear that Toronto comes out ahead. Moreover, superior public transportation in the Toronto metro area makes it easy to get back and forth to your job downtown while still living relatively affordably.
Beautiful cities meet beautiful outdoors
Often referred to as the “Great White North,” Canada is a place of stunning natural beauty. Just in the greater Toronto area, there's Niagara Falls, the majesty of which can be attested to by just about every person who's visited. But as the world's second-largest country by area, Canada's sheer diversity of sights within the same borders — from the great plains of Alberta, to the famous ski resorts in Whistler, to the red-sand beaches of Prince Edward Island — means you'll never want for things to do in your new country.
The author is a Toronto-based immigration lawyer and CEO of Visto. Views are personal.