Foreign Skilled Workers Looking to Canada After U.S Suspends Popular Visas

The United States under the Donald Trump administration is temporarily suspending the fast-track processing of the H-1B visas, a very popular work visa that helps the U.S companies hire skilled international workers. In response, Canadian companies – especially in the technological sector have issued a come-to-us plea for these workers to join the Canadian labour market instead, either as workers or as permanent residents.

Fortunately for these workers in America and the rest of the world, the Canadian government offers a range of pathways for workers and their families to come to Canada.

The scope of the H-1B Visa

Under the current U.S system, companies and individuals submitting applications for the H-B1 Visa for potential employees can pay over $1,000 USD for a fast-track “premium” processing, a move that guarantees a response from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services within 15 days or the fee is refunded. In addition to that, a non-premium application typically takes three to six months to process.

However, as of April 3, this option will no longer be available for a period of up to 6 months or a year. The U.S President Donald Trump has gone on record denouncing the H-B1 system, both before and after his election into office, as being “bad for Americans.”

It is also important to understand that, the H-1B visa is allocated by lottery after a submission period, and the number of applications has significantly increased over the recent years. Last year, the demand for visas was three times greater than the annual quota.

Contrast that with Canada

On March 9, the Canadian government announced that it will soon facilitate a two-week processing time standard for skilled foreign nationals seeking to work in Canada. The new Global Talent Stream of the temporary Foreign Worker Program is scheduled to be in full operation as of June 12, 2017.

This initiative is part of an overarching Global Skills Strategy, whereby companies in Canada will be able to bring in highly-skilled international workers quickly and efficiently. The technology sector, in particular, is expected to benefit significantly.

According to the Information and Communications Technology Council, Canada may need an additional 200,000 information, technology, and communications workers by 2019. Among other aims, the Global Skills Strategy aims to alleviate those labour shortages over in the next few years.

During the announcement of this strategy, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, said that “Canada continues to compete in a global innovative race. As technologies become more widely available to everyone, the only competitive edge for countries and businesses is the distinctive talent and creativity of their people. While skilled immigrants are now identifying Canada as a country of choice in which to apply their knowledge and ideas, we also need to prepare our home grown talent for a rapidly changing job market.”

Aside from this new initiative, and in contrast with the H-1B system, employer-specific work permits in Canada are not given out through a lottery. Instead, employers and workers can submit the appropriate documentation in the knowledge that the application will be processed based purely on its own merit.

Permanent immigration to Canada

Although there has been a steady flow of new permanent residents coming to Canada from the U.S there has been a clear increase in the level of interest in permanent immigration programs among U.S residents over the recent months. This may be attributed to a range of factors, including political, social, and economic changes that have taken place.

As a result, foreign workers in the U.S on H-1B visas as well as individuals who were hoping to obtain such a visa, but who are now less confident are now looking to Canada as a very viable and attractive destination. A Canadian Work Visa offers numerous pathways for immigration to Canada as well as the opportunity to apply for Canadian citizenship.

Typically, H-1B workers are well educated and by virtue of having worked in the U.S, have usually developed or mastered their English ability and added skilled work experience to their resume. Many H-1B holders also work with large multinationals that have brand awareness in Canada, a factor that may enhance their ability to land permanent employment in the country. In addition, many of these foreign workers are in their twenties to mid-thirties, and more importantly, these are factors that are richly rewarded across Canada’s economic immigration programs.

For example, a single 30-year old H-1B visa holder with an advanced English ability, a Bachelor’s Degree, and three years of work experience. This particular individual would be eligible to enter Canada’s Express Entry immigration system through the Federal Skilled Worker Class.

While a job offer is not required for a skilled worker to immigrate to Canada through the Express Entry system, but such an offer is rewarded with additional points.

Even for workers with a spouse or common-law partner may also immigrate to Canada, even without a qualifying job offer or a nomination from a Canadian province.

Effectively, H-1B holders like these could quite conceivably be living and working in Canada before the end of 2017, because the government of Canada fast-tracks the application through this process.

There are also other pathways to Canadian permanent residence, such as through one of the numerous Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Canadian provinces and territories can nominate individuals for permanent residence based on provincial labour market needs through the PNPs. Many, but not all, PNP streams place huge importance on obtaining a job offer from an employer. H-1B holders, as well as other individuals with work or study experience in the United States, are often highly valued by employers across Canada, as they have already proven that they can integrate into the North American job market.