Many students contemplating an international academic journey might find themselves evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of pursuing education in Canada compared to the United States. Despite the USA's historical popularity as a preferred destination, Canada presently claims the coveted position of being the foremost choice for global students.
In the recent past, the USA's standing as a premier destination for international students has witnessed a decline, while Canada has experienced a remarkable ascent to the pinnacle. Consequently, the question arises: What factors contribute to the increasing preference of students for Canada over the USA?
Challenges in Acquiring Study Permits
One possible explanation lies in the intricate visa policy of the United States. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a regulation necessitating international students to renew their visas annually throughout their academic tenure in the U.S. Conversely, the Canadian government actively promotes prolonged stays for its students.
The U.S. visa application process is both protracted and complex, involving rigorous scrutiny, extensive questioning, and substantial waiting periods. In contrast, the Canadian visa application is streamlined and shorter, simplifying the acquisition of study permits for international students. Canadian study permits can often be processed in as little as three weeks, whereas their American counterparts frequently entail a more extended timeframe.
The cost disparity between studying in the United States and Canada emerges as another influential factor. Not only does education in the U.S. command a higher price tag, but financial aid opportunities for international students are more elusive. Canadian universities, on the other hand, exhibit a greater propensity to extend financial assistance or scholarships to international students, a rarity in the United States.
Beyond tuition fees, which are on average 27% lower in Canada than in the U.S., the overall cost of living in Canada is significantly more affordable. This economic advantage may be a decisive factor prompting international students to opt for Canada as their preferred study destination.
In Canada, international students enjoy the prospect of working for up to three years post-graduation through the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This not only facilitates employment but also serves as a pathway to permanent residency and, ultimately, citizenship. In contrast, the United States imposes restrictions on post-graduation employment unless sponsorship is secured.
A prevailing perception among international students is that the U.S. may not be as welcoming to foreigners, potentially impacting their employability in the local job market.
Canada's Commitment to Retention
For students aspiring to transition to permanent resident status post-graduation, Canada stands out as the preferred choice. The country increasingly regards international students as ideal immigrants, actively seeking ways to retain them permanently. As the influx of international students to Canada continues to rise, so do the nation's efforts to facilitate their permanent residency.
Both provincial and federal governments in Canada offer diverse pathways for international graduates to transition to permanent residency. In April 2021, Canada introduced a temporary public policy allowing international graduates working in the country to apply for permanent residence status.
In contrast, the U.S. provides limited avenues for international students to achieve permanent status. Unlike Canada, the U.S. lacks specialized immigration options tailored for international graduates. Without familial ties or employer sponsorship, obtaining American permanent residency or a green card proves exceptionally challenging.