In 2018 and 2019, American immigration to Canada was the highest it has ever been since at least the 1980s. Although the gains are modest, Canada did see an increase in the number of American citizens immigrating to Canada following the 2016 election.
The 2016 U.S. presidential election
In the Canadian immigration world, Americans threatening to move to Canada when their candidate of choice loses the election is a common narrative. Typically there is a small increase in online activity and maybe a few do decide to pack up their lives and move north, but most of the time, it’s just talk. But the 2016 election seems to have changed that.
Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the website for IRCC crashed. While media was quick to blame liberal Americans seeking an escape from an unpalatable election victory for Trump, it’s a little more complicated. The number of Americans accessing IRCC’s website did increase significantly, but the website was having problems hours before the election results were announced.
While demand for Canadian immigration from the U.S. did not crash IRCC’s website, there was still an uptick in American immigration to Canada in 2016 and 2017 when compared to 2015.
In 2015, approximately 7,600 Americans were granted Canadian permanent residence. In 2016, that number grew to 8,485. By 2017, the number of American’s granted Canadian permanent residence grew to a little over 9,000. 2018 and 2019 both saw numbers approaching 11,000, the highest they have been since at least 1980.
Trump’s immigration policies likely not to blame
Most of Trump’s hardline approach to immigration is distasteful to many in the U.S. But the immigration policies enacted by his administration are likely not to blame for the uptick in American immigration to Canada.
Trump’s policies on immigration tend to affect temporary residents to the U.S. like students, workers, and those holding protected status. The numbers of Americans immigrating to Canada quoted in this article are for American citizens. Citizens of the U.S. are much more insulated from changes in immigration policy than those with more precarious status in America.
Trump’s policies on immigration have many temporary residents in the U.S. considering Canada but whether he wins a second term in November may change this.
The future of American immigration to Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly slowed American immigration to Canada. Whether Trump wins a second term will also play a role in the sustained growth of American immigration to Canada. The continuation of travel restrictions and border closures will also heavily affect the numbers.