The Canadian dream is quickly replacing the American one.
More than six in 10 American employers consider Canada’s immigration policy to be more favourable than that of the US, and plan to expand their business there, Chicago-based Envoy Global said in the fourth edition of its global immigration trends report released this month. Over 400 HR professionals were surveyed from Nov. 27 to Dec. 17, 2018.
“Canada has been using friendly immigration policies as one of its key tools to aggressively attract tech companies,” the report said. Recently, it announced a plan to bring 350,000 foreign nationals into the country annually between now and 2021, amounting to approximately 1% of its total population by then.
A fifth of the employers in the survey said they already have at least one office in Canada, while 38% are thinking of expanding to the country.
To increase their presence in India, companies are not only sending their existing employees, but also hiring talent there.
The emerging hub has already beat rival cities in the US in job creation in the a specific sector: technology. “In 2017, Toronto created more tech jobs than the Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington DC combined,” the report noted, referring to Canada’s largest city creating nearly 30,000 tech jobs during the year. “Meanwhile, Ottawa is home to over 1,700 tech companies.”
New land of opportunity
Vartika Manasvi is among those who have chosen Canada over the US.
“We thought we’d go to the Valley (Silicon Valley) but there’s no longevity there. People don’t want to risk long-term careers and live with uncertainty in the US. Finding another visa or transferring the H-1B can be stressful.” Vartika Manasvi, co-founder of advanced interviewing platform StackRaft, who has now set up shop in Calgary after being an entrepreneur in the US in the years prior, told Quartz. “The Canadian immigration system is gradually moving towards becoming more and more skill-based.”
Over 30% of StackRaft’s 100,000 coders are Indian immigrants in the US or Indians returning from the US, and 50% is talent from India from globally recognized companies and institutes looking for a career abroad. This pool is also choosing Canada over America now, she said. For students and early-career professionals, the country is a hotbed for cutting-edge technologies. The government is sponsoring AI research in a big way, partnering with private companies and universities. Tech giants Google, Microsoft and Samsung have also set up shop in the Great White North.
Meanwhile, the US immigration system today is terribly stacked against immigrants.
The noose has been tightening around the H-1B programme with criteria getting more stringent and paperwork piling up as the government keeps seeking additional information. The H-4 employment authorisation document (EAD), which allows spouses of H-1B workers awaiting green cards to work, is also on its last breath.
There is an outsize impact on Indian immigrants, who receive three-quarters of H-1B visas and 80% of H-4 EADs. In 2017, Indians filed 2.2 million of the total 3.4 million H-1B petitions, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
In stark contrast, Canada’s Global Talent Stream (GTS) visa route makes life for immigrants much easier for myriad reasons:
- The GTS application will be processed within two weeks as opposed to between six and seven months, or longer, that it takes to approve the H-1B visa.
- GTS application fee is CAD$1,000 ($745) versus $1,410 for the work visa in the US.
- Canada’s visa allocations are not up to chance like the H-1B lottery system.
- Unlike spouses of H-1B workers who aren’t allowed to work at all in the US, immigrants in Canada don’t have the same restriction.
- Canadian permanent residency requirement is to be in the country for two years and citizenship takes three. In comparison, Indians’ wait for green cards in the US extends to an excruciating 12 years.
- Canada is attracting more foreign students. In June 2018, immigration, refugees and citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced the student direct stream (SDS) for foreign students from China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines enrolled in any of the 1,400-plus designated learning institutes in Canada can now fast-track their applications.