Exodus of Indian International Students From U.S. as Many Choose to Study in Canada


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Indian international students, particularly those in technology subjects, are increasingly choosing to study in Canada over the U.S., according to the latest figures.

Between the 2016-17 and 2018-19 academic years, the enrolment of Indian graduate students in engineering courses fell 27.5 percent in the U.S., from 39,470 to 28,600, according to data from the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Meanwhile, between 2016 and 2018, figures from the Canadian Bureau for International Education show the overall number of Indian international students studying at Canadian universities rose 127 percent, from 76,075 to 172,625.

U.S international student numbers have been on a general decline since Donald Trump came to power, promoting an anti-immigration agenda.

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Between 2016-17 and 2018-19, over international student enrolment at U.S. universities fell by 4.3 percent, from 840,160 to 804,420, the SEVIS data shows.

The declines include a drop of 3.5 percent in undergraduate enrolment and 5.2 percent in graduate enrolment.

In engineering subjects, graduate-level enrolment dropped 10.7 percent, while computer science subjects saw a fall of 8.5 percent.

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International Students and Coronavirus

Canada has continued to offer help to international students during the coronavirus crisis.

In May, Canada announced new Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) rules for international students forced to study via distance learning because of restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The change allows students unable to study in Canada to count time spent distance learning towards their PGWP eligibility.

Under the change, a foreign student’s eligibility for the PGWP will not be affected if their fall 2020 courses are conducted online due to COVID-19.

International students are to be allowed to complete up to 50 percent of their program online if they are unable to travel to Canada. Also, the online portion of their studies, up until December 31, 2020, will not be deducted from their future PGWP, the length of which is usually linked to how long a candidate spent studying in Canada.

International Students In Quebec

In a separate decision, Quebec’s immigration ministry moved to extend the stay of international students whose Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ) expired as of April 30, allowing them to apply to stay in the province until the end of 2020.

Quebec foreign students can now apply to the federal government to have their study permit extended without requiring a new CAQ. This means they can continue as a temporary resident of Canada and complete their program once courses are allowed to resume.

Exemption to 20-Hour-Per-Week Work Limit

International students considered coronavirus essential workers in Canada have been exempted from the 20 hours of work per week limit usually applied to study permit holders when classes are in session.

The exemption, in place until August 31, 2020, covers those working in ‘health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods’.

It means they are free to help in Canada’s effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benefits of International Students

International education represents a significant economic benefit to Canada, with international students contributing $21.6 billion to Canada’s GDP and supporting nearly 170,000 jobs in 2018. 

Additionally, nearly 54,000 former students becoming permanent residents in Canada in 2018.

Canada Covets International Students

Canada’s increasing international student numbers are part of a clear federal government strategy to attract more young people to study here, with a smooth pathway to permanent residence.

It launched the Student Direct Stream in 2018, providing expedited processing for international students from key markets: China, India, Vietnam, the Philippines, Pakistan, Senegal and Morocco.

After finishing their courses, many international students can qualify a PGWP, allowing them to begin their careers here.

Canada also views international students as key new permanent residents, given their age, Canadian education, Canadian life experience and language ability.

The Express Entry System was tweaked in November 2016 to introduce more points for international graduates from Canadian universities.

What are the Extra CRS Points For Canadian Education?

Education Level Number of Points
High school 0
One or two-year post-secondary 15
Three-year post-secondary, master’s, professional degree or doctorate 30

Furthermore, several of Canada’s provinces, including Quebec, operate immigration streams aimed directly at international graduates.


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