Why Canada is becoming an attractive option for South Africans

Canada welcomed more than 145,000 immigrants during the first three months of the year and is becoming an attractive immigration destination for many. Picture: Unsplash

Canada welcomed more than 145,000 immigrants during the first three months of the year and is becoming an attractive immigration destination for many. Picture: Unsplash

Published Jul 17, 2023


Canada is becoming increasingly attractive to people from across the world seeking new opportunities. South Africans are no different. Recent reports show SA emigration numbers are climbing.

Naumaan Hameed, of law firm Greenberg Hameed PC, will be hosting 2 Claim Canada symposiums, one in Johannesburg on July 20 and the other in Cape Town on July 25, highlighting the various pathways into Canada available for South African individuals and businesses.

We spoke to the immigration lawyer about the Claim Canada symposium, why Canada is an attractive option for South Africans and the opportunities available in the country.

What does Greenberg Hameed PC do and how can it be of service to South Africans looking to relocate or do business in Canada?

Greenberg Hameed is a Canadian business law firm founded by Naumaan Hameed and Howard Greenberg and is based in Toronto, Canada.

The company is on a a mission to showcase what Canada has to offer the world, and South Africans in particular.

According to Hameed, as the co-founders of Greenberg Hameed (GH), they’ve led some of the largest and most diverse immigration law firms in Canada and are deeply involved in immigration policy considerations with senior government officials and are the trusted advisers to multinational companies and industries across the world.

GH leverages our extensive experience, established trust in the marketplace, creativity and leading-edge technology to assist interested participants to learn about work and immigration opportunities in Canada, and to succeed and excel in the journey.

In some circumstances, the corporate strategy may be expansion to Canada to access new clients across North America, through the establishment of a development centre, with immigration driving the North American talent strategy, or it may be providing strategic counsel for families on the best opportunities to mobilise into Canada while achieving personal, social and economic happiness through the journey, leveraging established networks in Canada.

We also work closely with various stakeholders to connect the dots between available talent-seeking opportunities and business in need of the skills.

What is the Claim Canada Initiative?

The Claim Canada is a global initiative launched by GH PC. It seeks to promote opportunities for skilled talent, entrepreneurs, corporations and start-ups to consider opportunities to access the Canadian/North American marketplace.

It is global and intended to build bridges in global jurisdictions to establish trade pipelines and opportunities to promote cross-border trade.

The initiative has become particularly important, given the need to promote and build economies of the future that depend on attracting the right talent and businesspeople to stimulate innovation and next-generation thinking.

In the early days of the campaign, we have learnt that our initiative promotes many bilateral opportunities between countries as supply chains and respective skills, services and capabilities that can be leveraged between countries.

Who is invited to the symposium?

Our session is open to all interest applicants, business people, corporations, trade partners and officials interested in learning more about opportunities in Canada.

Why is Canada becoming an attractive destination for South Africans?

South Africans have been attracted to Canada for many reasons, with employment opportunities, safety, social stability, world-class education, and access to public health care being at the top of the list.

We should first recognise that Canada desperately needs people with in-demand skills to support the national economy across the country, particularly outside the larger metropolitan centres.

The race for talent in Canada has become more dire, given the low birth rate and baby boomers rapidly exiting the labour market, creating a pronounced “skills vacuum”.

In that context, South Africans are viewed in Canada to be a tremendous source of capable talent, extremely resourceful and with all the necessary capabilities and skills to excel in the West.

South Africans appreciate that Canada embraces immigrants with open arms and has developed policies and pathways to obtain work permits and permanent residence status relatively quickly and transparently.

Another driving force for increased migration to Canada is the desire for South African families to consider the best available education opportunities for the next generation as a family planning priority.

Canadian universities are some of the leading institutions in the world and permanent residence of Canada pay about one-fifth of the international student rate.

What are the pathways into Canada available for South Africans?

There are many pathways available to a qualified individual interested in Canada. A popular pathway is Canada’s Federal Express Entry System.

The merit-based electronic system selects and invites applicants to apply for permanent residence status.

The Express Entry system measures and awards points for factors such as education, age, language ability and work experience. Interested individuals can submit a profile and receive their score.

Then, every two weeks, the government publicly invites candidates who have achieved a particular score. Once invited, an application can be processed in as little as 6 months.

More recently, the Canadian minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser, introduced occupation specific draws which are intended to target individuals in 82 occupations including science, technology, engineering, maths, transportation, trades, agriculture, agritech and those who are Francophones.

The individuals directly meet the economic areas where employers in Canada cannot find skills and, as such, will be targeted and invited to apply for permanent residence, given the severe labour shortage facing businesses and stakeholders in the sector.

Canada also offers more than 120 other immigration programmes, federally and provincially. There are business immigration streams for foreign entrepreneurs who are able to obtain immigration status by successfully purchasing a new or existing businesses in Canada.

There is a popular start-up visa programme that permits up to five founders and their family members to obtain permanent residence if they receive a commitment certificate from a designated incubator, angel or venture capital fund.

Out of all the pathways into Canada, which is the quickest?

Canada’s minister of immigration announced recently that he would commit to work permit processing for high-skilled workers in less than 2 weeks. He has also publicly committed to processing permanent residence applications in 6 months or less.

There was a time prior to the pandemic where immigration authorities were achieving these targets, so, in theory, it is achievable once the backlogs are addressed.

What are the opportunities available for South Africans who may want to expand their company into Canada or invest?

A popular choice for South Africa companies or multinational companies seeking to expand their services to Canada is the intra-company transfer – a new office which allows the creation of a related operation in Canada to promote expanded trade to Canada.

This is a category that launched many of the leading foreign companies in Canada.

We have assisted many global companies expand their operations into Canada to sell their services, products and know-how to Canadian and US clients.

Many companies have selected Canada as the gateway to the US market, given the more amenable employer-friendly immigration policies, the ease of doing business, and the ability to access the US market remotely from Canada, without having to endure with the well-publicised challenges present in the US immigration system.

How can Canada-South Africa trade and gateways be unlocked through investment and migration?

In meeting Canadian and South African stakeholders, it has become apparent that there are many opportunities where collaboration and strategic trade objectives can be leveraged to achieve success on both sides of the ocean.

South African innovation, in areas of tech and agric-tech for example, provide significant value to Canadian customers in need of advanced services given the domain expertise.

The countries also share a respective strategic regional geographical advantage, Canada is seen as the gateway to the US marketplace and South Africa plays a similar role as the most user-friendly entry point to commercial opportunities through-out the continent in Africa.

Many Canadian companies, in areas of mining, engineering and transportation, are focused on maximising their Africa Strategy and there is a tremendous opportunity for South Africa to create foreign investment and the creation of new jobs to facilitate African trade.

How does this benefit South Africans?

In our view, the world is a global village and the opportunities to expand trade and services internationally can result in a win-win opportunities in both countries.

As an example, in Canada, we have witnessed the tremendous growth of international outsourcing services in the technology sector.

Canadian customers have relied and partnered with foreign companies for the delivery of technology services, given the scale and cost advantages in engaging with head-quartered companies in India and related operations selling and delivering services in Canada.

There appears to be untapped opportunities for South African companies to expose their innovation, Western-friendly based business acumen, and unique services into the Canadian marketplace to secure lucrative customer contracts in Canadian/US currency and continue to create new jobs in South Africa.

Building a Canada-South Africa corridor can be the first step.