Saskatchewan province in Canada is emerging as a favourite destination for Indian students due to its simple permanent residency rules and more job opportunities, after their alleged exploitation at the hands of some unscrupulous Indo-Canadian employers elsewhere.
In a bid to cash in on the trend, the Saskatchewan provincial government too has initiated changes that could give students some time to stay put after completion of their studies, as they try to find jobs, so as to become eligible for PRs.
Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour had brought about changes to the student category of Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Programme. Students are now finding it very easy to become eligible for PRs in the province.
It is pertinent to mention here that many Indian students arrived in Ontario and British Columbia initially.
A majority of students who worked on cash jobs in the above-mentioned provinces were underpaid. As international students had to obtain work permits and could legally work for only 20 hours a week during study period, they often failed to get full-time jobs and hence got exploited at the hands of corrupt Indo-Canadian employers.
Many students told HT that they were working for around $4 to $ 8 per hour as compared to a minimum $ 10.25 in Ontario.
A Punjabi student Harjeet Singh, who recently migrated to Saskatchewan from Toronto along with three fellow students, told Hindustan Times that the Canadian province had a lot of things going for it. Despite the harsh winters, they have decided to make Regina, capital of Saskatchewan, their home, he said.
Harjeet said that he was earlier working for $ 4 per hour at an Indian restaurant in Toronto and had to survive on 'langar' at Malton gurdwara due to his meagre earnings.
Students have been flooding the US, England and Australian universities for years, but have recently turned to Canadian institutions for their high quality of education and comparably lower academic costs.
Thus, the number of Indian students attending Canadian universities has surged in recent years due to increased popularity of the country as a higher education destination.
More than 12,000 post-secondary students from India were expected to attend Canadian universities last year, nearly four times the number that attended Canadian schools in 2008.
Statistics from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) recorded a 511% increase in the number of students arriving in the country to study between 2007 and 2010 - The figures jumped to 9,176 students in 2010 from 1,503 students in 2007.
About 50% of the Indian students studying in universities are said to be from Punjab, who want to stay in foreign lands at any cost.
A majority of students are interested in taking advantage of the immigration pathway Canada offers its international students who wish to become permanent residents.
With 99% success rate for Indian students getting PRs in Canada, the North American country boasts of a high concentration of such individuals.
"Indian students are looking for places with both reputation and quality. Value for money and easy-to-get PRs in Saskatchewan make it is an extremely sweet spot," an immigration expert Jugraj Singh remarked.