Despite COVID-19 Restrictions, Nigeria Has Highest Asylum Seekers To Canada

Nigeria is leading as the country with the highest nationals seeking asylum in Canada in 2020, despite the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

According to data from the Canadian Government, the number of Nigerians issued permanent residence permit by has tripled since 2015, displacing nationals from India and China, who also rank top on the list.

While those figures are based on people, who moved to Canada through its skilled workers immigration program, Nigerians are also taking other paths to reach the North American country.

Having displaced China in 2017 with more asylum requests, about 12,600 economic class immigrants from Nigeria gained permanent residence in 2019, mostly through Canada’s skilled workers’ immigration programme tagged: “Express Entry”.

In 2020, Nigeria is projected to have the highest number of finalised asylum claims. 

This comes at a time when there are minimal asylum filings as a result of the COVID-19 travel restrictions across the world.

The increase in migration from Nigeria to Canada has been attributed to the economic downturn in the West African country, political persecution, lack of educational opportunities, quest for greener pastures and Canada’s openness to immigrants.

But the high rate of LGBT-related claims from Nigeria (60% of Nigerians seeking asylum in that period claimed to be bisexual compared to an average of 12% for other nationals) has raised questions that some of the claims may be fabricated.

Political persecution is also emerging as a factor driving these claims as well, especially in the wake of high-profile protests against police brutality in Nigeria. 

As several reports and incidents suggest that the Nigerian Government was cracking down on the recent #EndSARS protest organisers, there has been a spike in local interest in Canada’s refugee protection programs—enough to force the country’s high commission to Nigeria to clarify the proper channels for seeking these claims.

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