During hard economic times when jobs seem to be scarce, immigrants and those with working visas are seen as competitors by legal residents and citizens of a specific country such as Australia, Canada, US, UK or New Zealand. Yet, the study option is a viable - and welcome - alternative to residency. Which country has the best option for students?
While the world is slowly recovering from the global financial crisis, immigration laws of first world countries are being fined tuned to compete for the best, brightest – even the wealthiest – of immigrants.
Where are they taking lessons, and spending tuition billions?
The United States and Canada are two of the top destinations of international students, yet the US gets more Canadian student visa holders than Canada has from the border down north.
While Canada has experienced steadily increasing number of international students, the United States accepted more student visa applicants from Canada: 423,775, followed by Mexico, 384,533, a factor that can be attributed to the membership of Mexico and Canada with the United States in the North America Fair Trade Association, making it easier for movement of nationals of each country within the contiguous NAFTA countries.
In 2008, only 159,887 study permits were issued to Canadian applicants; 6,182 from the Philippines. In 2011, the number of Filipino students to the US decreased to 5,453. Even students from the US decreased in 2011 to 4,969 from the 2004 level of 5,666.
Filipino students to Canada numbered 361 in 2008, and steadily increased yearly until 2011 when it peaked at 637.
China leads the number of foreign students to Canada since 2009 with 21,814 study permits issued to Chinese students in 2011. India was second at 12,049, Republic of Korea at 8,178, France at 5,068 with Saudi Arabia and Japan following the United States’ 4,969 at 4,906 and 3,456 respectively.
On February 26, 2013, Canada’s Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that Canada welcomed a record number of international students in 2012 – more than 100, students from all over the world, an increase of 60% from 2004.
International Students in Canada and the US for 2008 and 2011 show the trend of students from emergent first world nations such as China, India and South Korea decreasing in numbers as opportunities open up at home.
The Student to Resident Pathway is shortest for Canada and New Zealand: 1 to 2 years of study then be eligible for permanent residency with another year of working or in the case of NZ, with a job offer.
Australia lies in the middle, requiring foreign students to complete two years of academic studies, then work for at least 2 years to be eligible for residency.
UK and the USA have longer waiting times for students to become immigrants - from students to professionals, 5 to 6 years. Unless a student goes to the top as cream of the crop. Then another green card route (shorter and faster) opens up.