Presenting three intriguing sets of data for everyone to see.
First set: Top destinations favored by Chinese international students: United States, United Kingdom, Canada.
It can be observed that despite the increasing number of students studying abroad, their choices of destination have become more diversified. However, when considering educational resources, academic experience, post-graduation recognition, and competitiveness, the allure of the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada remains the strongest for Chinese international students.
Second set: Intentions of international graduates in different study destinations.
Among the top five destinations where Chinese international students gather, the highest proportion of students intending to stay and work locally after graduation can be found in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, with percentages of 54%, 43%, and 37%, respectively.
In these three countries, the highest proportion of international students choosing to return to China after graduation is found in the United Kingdom, accounting for 34%. This means that the majority of students still hope to stay abroad.
Among them, Canadian students studying in Canada express the strongest desire to continue working and living in Canada.
Chinese international students studying in France and Australia have the strongest inclination to return to China, with proportions of 44% and 37%, respectively. However, less than half of the students directly intend to return home.
Third set: Return rates of international graduates in different study destinations.
Among the returning overseas students, Canadian international students have the lowest return rate, meaning the proportion of students who successfully stay in Canada is the highest.
This also supports the findings from the second set of data.
Although this data also indicates that the return rates of Italian, Japanese, and French international students are lower than that of Canada, the number of Chinese students in these three countries is very small, making the comparison insignificant and negligible.
On the other hand, in countries with a large number of international students such as the United States and the United Kingdom, the return rate is higher, indicating a lower proportion of students choosing to stay.
Why is this situation happening?
First of all, we need to understand that the desire to stay and the ability to successfully stay are two different aspects.
It is well known that it is extremely difficult to ultimately stay in the United States through studying.
International students who wish to stay in the U.S. generally have to go through the H-1B visa lottery process, and whether or not they can obtain an H-1B work visa depends entirely on individual luck, commonly referred to as the “H-1B lottery.” It has nothing to do with personal excellence, attending prestigious universities, or finding world-renowned employers.
According to the latest official data released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the 2024 fiscal year H-1B visa lottery:
This year, a total of 780,884 H-1B online registrations were received, with 758,994 valid registrations. The immigration agency selected 110,791 valid registrations, resulting in a rough overall lottery success rate of 14.2% and an effective lottery success rate of 14.6%, setting a new record low since the introduction of the H-1B lottery program.
Compared to previous years, the number of H-1B registrations submitted this year has increased by 61.4% compared to last year, while the lottery success rate has almost halved, dropping from 26.9% last year to 14.2% this year.
The annual approval rate for H-1B visas has hit a historic low, with the combined proportion of international students able to stay in the U.S. through study and work visas being less than 3%.
Therefore, it is not a matter of whether or not students studying in the U.S. want to stay, but rather a question of whether or not they can stay.
International students are well aware of this situation and take it into consideration when making their choices. As a result, the proportion of students choosing to return to their home countries is higher than those choosing Canada.
The same applies to the United Kingdom.
The UK has never been as welcoming to immigrants as the United States, and it falls behind the U.S. in terms of innovation and employment opportunities. It is understandable that international students have a higher inclination to return to their home countries and a lower desire to stay in the UK compared to the U.S.
In comparison, Canada’s immigration policies are much more friendly.
Not only does Canada offer a wide range of immigration categories, but it also has various options for different individuals, with less stringent requirements.
There are investment immigration programs where individuals can invest money, as well as options for entrepreneurs, self-employed individuals, and employer-sponsored immigrants. There are also immigration programs that evaluate individuals based on their personal excellence, as well as skilled worker programs, provincial nominations, and family sponsorship, among others.
Due to its vast territory and abundant resources, Canada truly faces a shortage of labor and actively welcomes immigrants. It can be said that Canada goes to great lengths to attract labor force.
Of course, besides its immigrant-friendly policies, there are other important reasons for choosing to stay in Canada. Being adjacent to the United States, Canada serves as an excellent springboard for those seeking American status, not only in terms of physical proximity but also in terms of cultural, linguistic, economic, and political ties. For individuals desiring American status, Canada offers the best opportunity.
Additionally, Canada benefits from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States, which grants access to the TN visa. Canadian citizens do not require a visa to work in the United States; they simply need the willingness of a U.S. employer, allowing them to freely travel and work in the United States.
Canada, one of the seven industrialized nations in the Western world, is a developed country with a highly advanced industrial sector. Its higher education system is also globally renowned.
Although the cutting-edge technology of AI may be thriving in the United States, the forefront of AI research comes from the University of Toronto in Canada, where the “Father of AI,” Geoffrey Hinton, is also affiliated.
Canada has a well-established Chinese community, with deep political participation. The overall status of Chinese Canadians in Canada is much higher than that of Chinese Americans in the United States, making them a respected ethnic group.
Canada boasts the world’s best free healthcare and retirement systems, making it an ideal place for elderly parents to settle.
With low levels of illegal immigration, Canada is a peaceful country that has never experienced large-scale wars. It is widely recognized as one of the safest countries in the world.
Ranked 16th globally in terms of per capita GDP, Canada was named the Best Country for 2021 by U.S. News & World Report. Moreover, on the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index, Canada has had three cities consistently ranked for seven out of eight years from 2015 to 2022, making it the only country to maintain such a presence.
Any of the aforementioned reasons serves as a compelling motive for international students to desire to stay in Canada. However, the most significant factor ultimately lies with those who have already ventured abroad. They yearn for an additional identity, one that provides their own and their family’s future with a broader array of choices and possibilities.