Chinese immigration to Canada on the rise as some flee zero COVID strategy

Chinese immigration to Canada on the rise as some flee zero COVID strategy


China’s zero-COVID shutdowns have been linked to a rare wave of protests across the country in recent weeks, and immigration industry experts say the pandemic’s tough rules are also fueling a surge in applications. residence in Canada.

Immigration from China has rebounded from pandemic lulls to a new high, according to Canadian government statistics, and immigration consultants report a continuing wave of inquiries.

Vancouver immigration attorney Ryan Rosenberg, co-founder and partner of Larlee Rosenberg, said COVID-19 restrictions have been a new motivation for potential Chinese immigrants.

“I think what we’re seeing is that the COVID lockdowns have really shocked people and it’s made people think maybe China isn’t a good fit for themselves and for their families.”

Rosenberg, who has worked in the industry for more than 20 years, said the traditional driving forces for Chinese customers considering Canada were better education for their children, cleaner air and a healthier lifestyle.

Admissions of permanent residents from China reached 9,925 in the July-September quarter, according to online statistics from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

That’s more than triple the pandemic low of 2,980 in the same quarter of 2020, and a 15% increase from the 8,690 recorded in the third quarter of 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Quarterly admissions from China are now higher than at any time since 2015, as far back as online statistics go. A spokesperson for Immigration Canada was unavailable to confirm whether immigration rates had been higher before 2015.

Politics is also a factor, Rosenberg said, citing the consolidation of power with President Xi Jinping, who was recently confirmed for an unprecedented third term.

“(The) latest extension of Xi’s rule in China has also scared some people, mostly business owners…and they want to consider Canada as an option for themselves and their families,” Rosenberg said.

“There’s a strong vibe we feel about people wanting to come out for those reasons more than anything.”

Tiffany, an immigration consultant from Richmond, British Columbia, who only wanted her first name used for fear of reprisals against her family from China, said many of her clients say China’s zero COVID strategy has left them makes it feel like “their liberty and liberties have been stripped away. “

“Many could feel the pressure that the (Chinese) society is changing from a bit open and relaxed attitude to a strict attitude, making them think about fleeing to other countries,” said said the consultant in a Mandarin interview.

Immigration consultant Ken Tin Lok Wong said his firm has also seen an increase in family reunification applications.

“Because of COVID-19, many have decided to come here to visit family members in Canada,” Wong said in a Mandarin interview.

“After spending time here, they realized that while they could probably make more money in their hometown (in China), being close to their family members is more important than anything in life.”

Rosenberg said the subject of immigration has become so sensitive that his clients in China are reluctant to discuss matters via electronic communication, fearing they will be monitored by the Chinese government.

“We’re getting to the point where the worry is preventing people from having meaningful conversations about this in China, and that can kind of limit our ability to do a really good job for them,” Rosenberg said.

The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment.

The desire to leave China during the pandemic, combined with the caution to talk about it openly, sparked a coded term in Chinese online discussions: “run xue,” or running philosophy.

The term bilingual refers to the study of ways out of China and is widely used on Chinese language websites and chat rooms.

A recent immigrant who moved from Beijing to Vancouver three years ago says he ‘fleed’ for political reasons. He, too, asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals from the Chinese government.

The engineer, who is in his late 30s, said he made several trips to Taiwan after the island opened to Chinese tourists in 2008.

“I remember, I stopped at Freedom Square, a public square in Taipei, and saw people running carefree. Some were doing music rehearsals and some were even waving signs to express their political views” , did he declare.

“I didn’t see any police presence in the square and it was a wake-up call for me. I thought, ‘Oh, I could really live my life this way.

He said he was now content with his life in Vancouver, despite feeling lonely on vacation and having to work multiple jobs to make a living.

Rosenberg said young immigrants who had many years of work ahead of them were favored for their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy in a “meaningful and direct way.”

“So the bias is towards people who are a bit younger, highly educated and can speak English or French, and then have experience in Canada (rather) than experience outside of Canada,” said Rosenberg.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 4, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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