China’s COVID regulations spur immigration into Canada


China’s COVID-19 lockdowns are linked to a rare wave of protests across the country in recent weeks, and immigration industry experts say strict pandemic regulations are also under increasing demand to live in Canada.

The number of immigrants from China has rebounded from a lull due to the pandemic to reach a new peak, immigration consultants say, according to Canadian government statistics. demand is continuously increasing.

Ryan Rosenberg, Vancouver immigration attorney, co-founder and partner at Larlee Rosenberg, said COVID-19 restrictions are a new impetus for potential Chinese immigrants.

“I think what we’re seeing is the COVID lockdown is really shocking people and it’s making people think that maybe China isn’t right for themselves and their families.”

Rosenberg, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, says the traditional motivation for Chinese clients to consider Canada has been a better education for their children, cleaner air and a healthier lifestyle.

The number of permanent residents immigrating from China reached 9,925 in the July-September quarter, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada online statistics show.

This is more than triple the pandemic low of 2,980 in the same quarter of 2020 and also 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, according to online statistics. A spokesperson for Immigration Canada was not available to confirm whether immigration rates were higher than before 2015.

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

“Xi’s most recent expansion of power in China has also spooked some people, mainly business owners, and they are looking to Canada as an option for themselves and their families. ,” said Mr. Rosenberg.

“There’s a strong vibe that we’re attracting people who want to get out for those reasons more than anything.”

Tiffany, an immigration consultant in Richmond, BC who only wants her name used out of fear of her family’s retaliation from China, said many of her clients say the COVID-free strategy of China makes them feel that their “freedom and liberties have been taken away. “

“Many people can feel the pressure that (China) society is changing, from a little open and relaxed to a strict one, making them think of escaping to other countries,” the consultant for know in an interview in Mandarin.

Immigration consultant Ken Tin Lok Wong said his firm is also seeing an increase in applications for family reunification.

“Because of COVID-19, many people decide to come here to visit their family members in Canada,” Wong said in an interview in Mandarin.

“After a while here, they realize that although they can earn more at home (in China), being close to family members is more important than anything. anything in life.”

Rosenberg said the topic of immigration has become so sensitive that his clients in China are reluctant to discuss matters electronically, fearing they could be spied on by the Chinese government.

“It is time for concern that is preventing people from being able to have meaningful conversations about this in China, and that could somehow limit our ability to deal with it,” said Rosenberg. do a really good job for them.”

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

The desire to leave China during the pandemic, combined with a reticence to talk about it openly, has given rise to a codified term in online discussions in China: “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 new immigrant who moved from Beijing to Vancouver three years ago said he was “running” for political reasons. He also requested anonymity for fear of retaliation by the Chinese government.

The engineer, in his 30s, said he had been to Taiwan several times after the island opened to Chinese tourists in 2008.

“I remember, I stopped at Freedom Square, a public square in Taipei, and saw some people running around carefree. Some were practicing music and others were even waving signs. language to express their political views,” he said.

“I didn’t see any police presence in the square and it was an awakening moment for me. I thought to myself, ‘Oh, I can really live my life this way.”‘

He says he is now satisfied with his life in Vancouver, despite feeling lonely during the holidays and having to work multiple jobs to earn a living.

Rosenberg said young immigrants with years of work ahead of them are prioritized for their ability to contribute to the Canadian economy in a “direct and meaningful way”.

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

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

This story was produced with the financial support of Meta and the Canadian Press News Scholarship.

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