University-educated Mexicans are moving north in larger numbers: how many will come to Canada?

As migration of university-educated Mexicans to both the United States and Canada has begun to increase, the greater opportunities that Canada’s expanding points-based selection system offers for the highly skilled to become permanent residents highlights a question: which factors may induce high-skilled Mexicans to prefer Canadian destinations versus American? Using traditional migration theories to frame interviews with a volunteer sample of young university-educated Mexicans, this study confirms that reasons of proximity, climate, and culture often favor American destinations, while reasons of social acceptance, social welfare, and personal security favor Canadian. Importantly, urban-specific preferences matter. Those factors favoring US destinations in general lead many to prefer southern-tier US cities traditional for less-skilled Mexican migration. Those considering northern US cities often prefer a Canadian choice. Canadian competitiveness in the northern urban market suggests increased awareness of Canadian immigration opportunities could significantly boost skilled Mexican migration to Canada.

This research was undertaken in collaboration with Melissa H. Jasso, a UNAM student in International Relations, and was presented at the North American Colloquium held at UNAM in November, 2019. Ms Jasso has begun doctoral studies in sociology at Harvard in the fall, 2022, supported by a Fulbright Scholarship.


Jeffrey G. Reitz & Melissa H. Jasso, 2022.  “Mexican Migration to Canada: Trends and Prospects,” pp. 47-69 in Borders and Migration in North America at the threshold of the twenties/Fronteras y Migración en Norteamérica en el umbral de los veinte, eds. Graciela Martinex-Zalce and Mónica Verea, Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones sobre América del Norte (CISAN), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Jeffrey G. Reitz & Melissa H. Jasso, 2023. “Growth in High-skilled Mexican Migration Northward: American and Canadian Destinations.” Migraciones Internacionales 14: 1-27.

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