Saturday, June 15, 2024

Home to world’s largest Punjabi diaspora, Canada an immigrant magnet

Canada is the favourite destination for Indian students – mostly from Punjab – for the simple reason that this country is home to the largest Punjabi diaspora in the world.

Of about 800,000 international students currently studying in Canada, 320,000 are from India. Though there are no precise figures, Punjabi students roughly make up about 70 percent of the Indian students here.

The second reason for these students to come to Canada is that a study visa offers them easy passage to permanent residence (PR) in a time period of five to six years.

But more than anything else, it is the lure to make quick cash while studying here that is drawing a record number of students from Punjab to Canada.

“Since almost all of these students are here only to get their PR, many work long hours per week to make money so that their parents in Punjab can pay back loans they took to send them to Canada,” says a Mississauga-based immigration consultant.

She says she knows cases of Punjabi students who work throughout the week in the Greater Toronto Area and then travel together to Montreal at the weekend to attend their colleges.

“These students have become the source of cheap labour for Canadian businesses. They are willing to work below minimum wage because they want cash. The huge influx of Indian students here has introduced a parallel cash economy in cities like Brampton. Everybody wants to avoid paying taxes,” says a Brampton Punjabi journalist.

Another reason why Canada is the preferred destination for these students is that they can quickly get visas for their parents to visit them.

Once their parents land in Canada on a visitor visa, they too start working for cash.

“I know many cases of students who have been in Canada only for six months, but they invited their parents to visit them immediately. Once their parents landed here, the very next day both father and mother were working for cash. They spent a few months in Canada and went back with enough cash to pay their debt. This is happening under the radar. The Canadian authorities have no clues. That’s why most Punjabi students want to come to Canada,” says the Brampton journalist.

The study visa route is also being used by many students from Punjab to enter Canada and then buy a foreign worker permit from trucking companies at a hefty price so that they can work full-time and make money.

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