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Education or Jobs? What Drives Immigration Into Canada?

Canada is recognized as one of the leading nations in offering globally recognized quality education. Its universities and colleges are among the best ranking in the world. Whereas Canada has the most friendly immigration policies in the world, and each year admits thousands of permanent residents, restrictions still exist for most youths, especially from developing countries. To circumnavigate such limits, they often explore loopholes in the system through education. Education is not the end but the means for such youthful students. The quest for higher education is the loophole for many Africans and Indians to immigrate to Canada for better jobs.

International students are a cash cow for universities and colleges across the world. International students, in many cases, pay almost three times the fees paid by local students. Hence, these colleges and universities find them attractive as they convert these fees into significant development and expansion projects. For this reason, they only accept students who qualify for their academic programs from these developing countries. Rejection only comes when the available slots are filled, or some provinces and territories want to restrict immigrants from particular regions (Trois-Rivieres, 2022). But why would international students pay such inflated fees without raising a single concern? Their end expectation is to get better jobs in Canada and permanent residency, thus recovering their costs and even making a decent living and sending a few dollars back home. And everything is done to see them through the inflated fees, including selling properties. Even though most express willingness to return to their countries after completing their program, that is just for paperwork. Therefore, education is the perfect loophole to make to Canada for those who could otherwise not have had the opportunity from developing countries.

Moreover, Canada is experiencing labor shortages across different industries, from agriculture to health care. During their program, many get the opportunity to acquire Canadian experience through internships. And these students become crucial in filling up labor gaps that are left behind due to retiring population or growth in some industries. As the saying goes: It’s the rod at hand used to kill a snake; it is easier to absorb people already in Canada and with the relevant Canadian experience than to bring in someone else. The country finds itself tied and ends up extending its stay. As they contribute positively to the development of the country’s economy through work and taxes paid to the government, the government finds no reason to send them forcefully back to their countries of origin. In most cases, these immigrant students are even willing to do meaningful work that Canadians aren’t willing to do, including working in the agricultural industry. Even though the pay may be poor and less than that of average Canadians_ though some have accused the country of using them as a source of cheap labor (The Economic Times, 2022)., they endure in the hope of a better future. As a result, Canadian experience during internships cements the role of education as a loophole to gain entry into Canada.

Finally, with a job offer running several years after completing their programs, they are in better positions to bargain for their permanent stay in Canada. Not only do their colleges find them useful as student ambassadors, but also their employers who allow them to perform essential management roles and the government at large (Top Universities, 2016). Riding on their newly gained status, they are no longer at the mercy of immigration officers. And their application to become Canadian residents is readily accepted. Of course, that would be easier given that the country has spent human resources training these people and allowing them to perfect their skills by getting one-on-one training. Canada would want to minimize the human capital flight as much as possible and give available jobs to people it has already trained.

In conclusion, this path is taken by many international students who wish to become Canadian citizens. There are strict visa restrictions if one does not have a job offer in Canada to get into the country, especially from developing countries. If there were no job opportunities in Canada as they are now, international students would be looking elsewhere. Alternatively, if African and Indian degrees were easily recognized in Canada and visa restrictions were relaxed, many immigrants would come as workers, not students. Thus, the end justifies the means.


The Economic Times. (2022). International students are accusing Canada of using them for ‘cheap labor.’ [NRI]

Top universities. (2016). Canada Universities Attracting more Indian Students.

Trois-Rivieres. (2022). Racism concerns as African students refused Canada visas. [The East African]


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