Chart showing 15 years of Chinese immigration to Canada

The number of Chinese citizens seeking permanent residence in Canada has dropped in half since 2005. (Graphis Lu Xu, with data from IRCC)

Chinese immigration to Canada dropped in half over the last 12 years, but new statistics show that trend may be reversing.

In 2005, more than 42,000 Chinese citizens became permanent residents of Canada. By 2015, that number had dropped to just 19,535.

One expert said the reason is clear: China’s economy.

“The Chinese economy is booming, so the reason to leave (China) is less. Why would you leave if you can do very well in China and get a good job?” said Mikal Skuterud, who teaches immigration policy and labour economics at the University of Waterloo.

He says that in the last ten years China has seen “phenomenal” economic growth and that is why fewer Chinese students and workers wanted to stay and why fewer Chinese residents applied to move.

“There used to be people that came to Canada because they were being pushed out of China by something that wasn’t going well in China for them. They felt they were better off living in Canada than they were in China. But that’s changing.”

Within China, the country has seen a matching growth in students who studied abroad coming back home.

According to an annual report of the Center for China and Globalization, a leading Chinese independent think tank in Beijing, more and more graduates — especially those with foreign master degrees – are returning to China after studying overseas. The number of Chinese students returning home from foreign studies increased by an average of 19 per cent every year from 2000 to 2015, according to the report.

Graph showing monthly Chinese immigration to Canada

(Graphic by Lu Xu with data from IRCC)

The number of Chinese citizens getting permanent resident status in Canada started to grow again in 2016. And according to the monthly data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for January to August of 2017, the number of permanent residents from China landing monthly in Canada was consistently higher than the same period in the previous year. It’s unclear whether that marks a new trend, or is part of overall variation in a continuing decline in immigration.

Skuterud also said that immigration policy has made it easier for people with a Canadian education to immigrant to Canada.

“Now almost every immigration program in Canada gives more credit to Canadian than foreign education.”




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