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Bilateral tensions result in fewer Indians immigrating to Canada

Feb 29, 2024 11:30 AM IST

The impact of bilateral tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa is being felt in immigration patterns.

The impact of bilateral tensions between New Delhi and Ottawa is being felt in immigration patterns as the number of applications from Indians for permanent residency in Canada decreased by over 62% in December 2023.

A Canadian flag outside homes in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. In Canada, a post-Covid explosion in foreign students has resulted in housing shortages and flawed academic programs being taught in strip malls. Photographer: Laura Proctor/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
A Canadian flag outside homes in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Jan. 5, 2024. In Canada, a post-Covid explosion in foreign students has resulted in housing shortages and flawed academic programs being taught in strip malls. Photographer: Laura Proctor/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

According to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the number of applications for December fell from 16,796 in 2022 to 6,329 in 2023. That trend was evident through the last quarter of 2023, as applications from Indians fell from 35,735 to 19,579 for that period.

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Several factors may have contributed to that decline, including the state of bilateral ties after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in the House of Commons on September 18 last year that there were “credible allegations” of a potential link between Indian agents and the killing of pro-Khalistan figure Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Surrey, British Columbia, on June 18 last year.

The connection for the October-December quarter is evidenced by the numbers having increased substantially in previous months including September. Those higher PR applications figures between January and September 2023 took the overall figure for the year to 90,215 out of a total of 38,6577 from all countries in 2022 to 112,107 out of 426,730 last year.

Another factor contributing to the reduction in numbers is the smaller diplomatic presence of Canada in India after 41 of its diplomats were asked to leave in October as New Delhi sought “parity” in presence, though that move was described as “mass expulsion” by Ottawa. This included fewer IRCC staff in the country.

The trend of decreasing numbers was first reported by the outlet Better Dwelling, which noted, “Canada’s eroding relationships with key sources of immigrants is certainly contributing to the issue.”

Canada has already announced it is not increasing PR levels in the immediate future. In December, Ottawa stated it will maintain its targets of 485,000 permanent residents for 2024 and 500,000 in 2025, as announced in 2022. However, a statement from IRCC at the time added, “Starting in 2026, the government will stabilize permanent resident levels at 500,000, allowing time for successful integration, while continuing to augment Canada’s labour market.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anirudh Bhattacharya is a Toronto-based commentator on North American issues, and an author. He has also worked as a journalist in New Delhi and New York spanning print, television and digital media. He tweets as @anirudhb.

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