The USA has always been the #1 choice for Indian students opting for overseas education. However, new research from the National Foundation for American Policy reveals that the number of applications from India to Engineering and Master's courses in the USA decreased by approximately 40% from 2016 to 2019.
On the contrary, the number of Indian students applying to Canadian colleges and universities within the same period has increased by 182%. The tremendous popularity of Canada as the top destination surpassing the USA owes much to the aggressive visa policies that made it challenging for Indian students to obtain study visas during the presidency of Donald Trump.
Thus, the simplicity of obtaining a Canadian study visa, the ease of securing residency status and more affordable living costs made Canada a more favourable option for Indian students.
The significant factors contributing to Indian students losing interest in applying to universities in the US include:
Compared to Canada, the numerical restrictions to obtaining an H-1B visa in the US for higher studies are significantly higher. As a result, several students and highly skilled workers have to opt for an alternative to further their careers. According to NFAP Executive Director Stuart Anderson, the unfavourable US immigration laws will continue to make America lose out on retaining talented individuals in the country.
Thus, it's not surprising that Canada witnessed a 431% increase in Indian student applications to various courses in Canadian colleges and universities from 2015 to 2020. Further statistics show that from merely 39,000 Indian student visa approvals in 2016, the numbers grew to more than 126,000 in 2021.
According to India's Ministry of External Affairs, approximately 215,720 Indian students lived in Canada with study permits in 2021. Meanwhile, only 211,930 Indian students have study permits in the US. While Canada is currently in the lead with only a 1.8% margin, experts believe that the number of Indian students in Canada will increase significantly from 2022 due to relaxed COVID-19 immigration rules.