Following a significant increase in the number of Indians offered citizenship of Canada and Australia, India recovered its position as the top country of origin of newly naturalized citizens of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries in 2019. In 2017, India lost that position to Mexico.
According to the latest study from the 38-country economic bloc, more than 1.56 lakh people gave up their Indian citizenship for more influential and powerful passports from OECD countries during the pre-pandemic year. The number of Indians obtaining Canadian and Australian citizenship increased by 61 per cent, outpacing the 28 per cent increase in Indians obtaining citizenship in any other OECD country.
Although, more Indians have obtained US passports that year than they have obtained Canadian or Australian passports combined. However, more Indians have obtained US passports that year than obtained Canadian or Australian passports combined.
In 2019, about 63,578 Indians became naturalized US citizens, the largest figure since 2008, when approximately 66,000 people did so. The number of Indians obtaining Canadian citizenship reached a new high of 31,329, the highest since 2006.
After the Justin Trudeau government, which assumed power first in 2015, relaxed migration regulations, a huge number of highly skilled Indians, especially technologists, rushed to apply for residency in the vast but sparsely populated country.
According to the current edition of the OECD’s International Migration Outlook, Australia granted citizenship to 28,470 Indians, possibly a significant number for any year which was the highest to date. The United Kingdom was the fourth most desired passport among Indians, but the number of new citizens of Indian origin in the United Kingdom was the lowest as of 2008.
According to the OECD data, 40% of the 1.56 lakh people who surrendered their Indian passports in 2019 became US citizens, while 20% opted for Canada, 18% Australia, and 10% the UK. Given the increasing number of Indians who became citizens of the United States, they accounted for only 8% of all foreigners who became American citizens that year.
New Zealand, Italy, and Germany have been among the leading countries where Indians obtained citizenship. In 2019, nearly 4,800 Indians became citizens of New Zealand, the third year in a row that more than 4,750 Indians gained citizenship of the Pacific Ocean island nation.
Around 4,700 people had become Italians that same year, but the number of people obtaining Italian citizenship has more than reduced by half since 2016. Sweden, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Ireland were among the other OECD countries that granted citizenship to 500-1,000 Indians in 2019. In comparison, Indians made up 22% of those granted Australian citizenship and 13% of those granted Canadian citizenship.
The report also revealed a significant increase in the number of Indian migrants, which include students, to the United Kingdom. In 2019, approximately 92,000 Indians moved to the United Kingdom, nearly 50% more than the previous year. Since 2017, when Theresa May’s government has officially announced the country’s exit from the European Union, the flow of Indians into the UK has been on the rising trend.
In total, 3.94 lakh Indians moved to OECD countries in 2019. It was not surprising that the number of Indians migrating to Canada increased that year, with 85,600 people moving to the North American country. During the year, a large number of Indian migrants arrived in the United States, Germany, and Australia.
The OECD predicted a 30% decline in migration due to the virus outbreak in 2020, to around 37 lakh, the lowest level since 2003. When the report was released, there was hardly any data on the influx of immigrants to all OECD countries. The effect on long-term migration was approximated to be much greater.
As per the report, there has been a significant decrease in all types of migration, including family migration, inter-company transfers, temporary labour, and students. China remained the leading country of origin for international migrants in the OECD, with a 4.30 lakh increase to 4.66 lakh.