As at 2017, there were over 11,000 Nigerian students in Canada. They hardly go back to Nigeria after graduation.
Augustine O. Agbonsuremi
Canada is the new destination for many Nigerian elite and their families. But Canada is tightening its immigration noose to prevent the influx of Nigerians and some other nationals who are obviously abusing the liberal immigration policies of the Justin Trudeau government. Why should Nigerians intending on migrating to Canada not do so legitimately and appropriately, without the backlash of the uncertainties and hard times in the shortcuts through the United States borders?
This North Amercan country has a flourishing confederate democracy and a robust economy with even greater potential for growth. It is about 11 times bigger than Nigeria in land mass. While Nigeria is approximately 923,768 square kilometres, Canada is approximately 9,984,670 square kilometres. Meanwhile, the population of Nigeria is 198 million people. The Canadian population live clock indicates
a steady growth of immigrants into the country. There are projections that the population will hit above 40 million in a few years’ time.
By 2016, the number of Nigerians living in Canada crossed 31,000.
With the recent influx of Nigerians, it will not take a long time for Nigerians to gain more significant numbers. Analysts say the Nigerian population will get more significant in a few years. And if the current influx is not checked, the Nigerian population in Canada can triple in a few months.
As at 2017, there were over 11,000 Nigerian students in Canada. They hardly go back to Nigeria after graduation. Canada will gladly keep them to work because of their skills acquired through relatively high international school fees paid by parents from back home. This is a win-win situation: Canada gains from the inflow of revenue through international school fees from Nigeria and other foreign lands, retains the highly skilled hands after their graduation; Nigerians and other foreign nationals find abode in Canada and partake in the robust economy under a relatively peaceful and prosperous society.
There is a steady growth of labour, economic and investments by immigrants from Nigeria into Canada. The process for this category of immigrants accessing the Canadian legal entry visa is demanding and relatively difficult. As a result of the bottlenecks in the process, many Nigerians who cannot walk through the qualifying process take the refugee option. Over half of the above 5,000 boarder-crossing refugees through the US into Canada in the first half of 2018 were Nigerians with valid US visas.
“It is apparent that they obtained those visas with the express intent to actually go to Canada,” said Hursh Jaswal, communications director for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen.
Top Canadian officials, led by the minister, flew into Nigeria early 2018 to join US officials to begin a review of the issuance of US visas to Nigerians.
It is not clear how much impact this synergy between the US and Canada will have on the number of Nigerian asylum seekers using the US as a transit point. The US has already slowed down on its family visas for Nigerians and this is seen as a direct response to the Canadian requests.
However, many Nigerians, particularly from the club of the elite, see Canada as a great place to be. They readily cite economic difficulties, the lack of jobs and the desire to live in a more stable and peaceful place as the reasons for emigration considerations.
Perhaps, the most acceptable route to Canada, particularly to parents who want their children to move to Canada, is the education route.
Over 11,000 students from Nigeria are currently studying in Canadian colleges and universities.
Some parents insist the safety of their children moving to Canada and studying in Canadian schools is more guaranteed than in the US. The stories of guns and invasion of schools by gunmen in the US are completely absent in Canada.
Many children depart Nigeria at ages between 14 and 17 years to access pre-university education and then proceed to develop careers in Canadian universities and colleges. Others go straight to the universities and colleges after secondary education in Nigeria. Yet many others are going for postgraduate programmes, which guarantee postgraduate work permits (PGWP).
Canadian schools have one of the best home-stay arrangement in the world. Children from Nigeria and other foreign lands are kept with Canadian families who provide them accommodation, feeding and guidance into the Canadian society while they study in schools nearby.
There is a growing debate in Canada currently over the likely impact of Trudeau’s liberal immigration policies on the 2019 Canadian federal elections.
The possibilities being canvassed as the debate rages are already shaping the political behaviour and thinking process of the major contenders, particularly the liberals. This is causing panic among prospective immigrants and immigration lawyers who fear that the immigration noose could be tightened in no time.
Many prospective Nigerian migrants to Canada lack first-hand knowledge about life in Canada when they get there. They only pick information from friends and relatives who have “crossed,” with beautiful stories of how they were received by Canadian immigration officials. Encouraging stories, which comparatively make these refugees get transformed with fresh opportunities.
The tales of the harsh reality that a new immigrant faces in Canada in the course of “landing” or “crossing and settling down” are hardly told to prospective immigrants back home in Nigeria. On the average, it takes a new immigrant between three and five years to land and settle down properly in Canada. While a few with a background in science and ICT may quickly settle down from six months to a year, some other
categories in the open field of labour can take between four to six years to settle down. Some necessarily have to begin new careers, forcing them to go back to school to study new and more attractive and marketable courses.
Nigerians are mostly driven by the attractive opportunities available in Canada, comparatively quite better than what obtains in Nigeria. The immigrants believe, and rightly too, that there are far better chances to “make it” in Canada, despite the initial huddle, than in Nigeria, where it is believed you can only “make it” if you have some “big man” or someone to help you get a good job.
However, despite these glowing pictures of a good life and opportunities in Canada there are many foreign nationals, including Nigerians, who come in here unprepared and end up in a circle of poverty, confusion, and trapped in the system. That is why it is better to seek advice from immigration professionals, get prepared and take the honorable steps to get into Canada.
You should have a good skill or be ready to acquire a marketable skill in order to fit into the highly advanced Canadian business community.
The advantages of following the legal and established processes into Canada cannot be overemphasised. Apart from the warm welcome for you at the point of landing and the absence of anxiety over your immigration status, you have a system that will simply assimilate you and you hit the ground running from day one.
Fortunately, a higher percentage of the Canadian population is direct immigrants or descendants of immigrants. The current Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed D. Hussen, was himself an immigrant, a refugee from Somalia. This is the highpoint that Canada is an open opportunity for everyone who will work the legal immigration rope to Canada and explore the good system available.
But anxiety, a long time as a refugee, uncertainty and possible deportation await those who opt to cross to Canada using the illegal US borders.