The number of Nigerians moving to Canada has surged to the highest in nine years for the first quarter of this year.
Data from the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) show that the country recorded 5, 755 Permanent Residents (PRs) from Nigeria in Q1 2023, an increase of 32.5 percent from 4,345 in the same period of 2022.
On a quarter-on- quarter basis, it rose by 14.9 percent to 5,010. For full year 2022, it grew 41.9 percent to 22,130 from 15,595 the previous year.
“Just like the United Kingdom (UK) and other countries in Europe, Canada is facing skills shortages. This is why the country has been very open to immigration in the last few years,” Toyyib Adelodun, a UK-based immigration consultant, said.
He said unlike the UK which is easy to enter but takes a long time to become a citizen of the country, Canada is the opposite. “You can still even visit the country while they are processing your PR application.”
Oludayo Sokunbi, founder and chief executive officer at JapaConsults, an academic consulting firm added that Canada allows spouses to join their partners as visitors while waiting for PR approvals.
“You can literally know the exact year you will become a permanent resident and citizen in Canada from the first day you enter the country,” he said.
A PR in Canada is a status granting someone who is not a Canadian citizen, the right to live and work in the country without any time limit on their stay. It is usually an immigration visa that allows someone to get most social and healthcare benefits that Canadian citizens are entitled to and also get protection under Canadian law.
There are many different ways for professionals and workers to qualify for a Canada immigration permanent resident visa, according to lawyers at First Immigration Law Firm based in Canada.
“The most prominent option is through Express Entry, which is Canada’s main pathway for economic class skilled workers. Your best bet to be eligible under the entry is to meet the requirements of either the Federal Skilled Worker Program or Canadian Experience Class,” they said.
The IRCC data also revealed that Africa’s biggest economy ranked fourth in Canada’s top 10 immigration sources list behind Philippines (8,070), China (11,390) and India (46,055). The rest of the six countries are U.S (4,265), France (3,825), Pakistan (3,095) Brazil (3,060), Eritrea (3,025) and Afghanistan (2,905).
Canada’s aging population and lower birth rate has been shrinking its labour force, forcing the country to intensify its efforts to attract large, young and vibrant immigrants by offering immigration-friendly policies.
Last year, the Canadian federal government announced an aggressive plan to take in 500,000 immigrants a year by 2025, with almost 1.5 million new immigrants coming to the country over the next three years. In 2022, the country landed 437,120 PRs, a nearly eight percent increase from the total number of PRs in 2021.
“The immigration levels plan will help businesses find the workers they need,” Sean Fraser, Canada’s immigration minister said in a statement.
He said the new targets would also allow the country to fulfil commitments to help those fleeing violence and war in their home countries. “Canada is projected to reduce the number of government-assisted refugees it resettles by about a third, from 23,550 in 2023 to 15,250 in 2025.”
Apart from PRs, Africa’s most populous nation saw its number of new study permits issued by Canada rise by 17.8 percent to 16,195 as at December 31, 2022 from 13,745 in the same period of 2021. The number of study permits places Nigeria fifth on the top source countries of new international students that entered Canada.
Last month, Canada announced new measures to make it easier for families of recent immigrants to relocate to the country just a few days after the UK said it was restricting foreign students from bringing their families into the country starting next year.
That same month, the country announced that its express entry was now implementing a category-based selection to help tackle labour shortages and boost the economy.
“Canada says they are prioritising families the same week the UK announced visa van for families of international students. The only reason people started moving heavily to the UK from 2019 to 2023 was the post study visa and dependents,” Sokunbi of JapaConsults, said.
He said now that the country has cancelled it, there’s no point for the students to go there as the next best English speaking country is obviously Canada.
Higher education and work are the major principal conduits of permanent emigration. But Nigeria’s current realities such as high inflation, unemployment and fragile economic growth have now made it a major reason why its citizens emigrate to other countries for greener pastures.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the country’s inflation, which measures the rate of increase of commodity prices quickened to a 17-month high at 22.41 percent in May 2023 and unemployment, at a record high of 33.3 percent as at 2020 has heightened insecurity in the country.
Last year, the NBS put the number of Nigerians living in multidimensional poverty at 133 million, compared to 82.9 million considered poor in 2019 by national standards.
“You have a lot of mid and high skill (individuals) leaving which affects how businesses operate in terms of the talents that they have and stability,” said Kemi Ogunkoya, a leadership development strategist.
“They would drain businesses which in the long run mean those businesses will now start sourcing for talents outside of Nigeria which may be more expensive.”
According to McKinsey & Company, talent flight can undermine performance, value creation, and both the near- and long-term success of ongoing deals and organizations should develop talent retention plans as soon as possible.
Damilola Adewale, a Lagos-based economic analyst, said the government needs to support the private sector more by enhancing their job-creating capacity and also implement structural reforms to enhance the quality of well-being of the citizens.