The H-1B visa allowed US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers. While this saw a significant flow of foreign workers into the American economy, the recent move by President Trump to extend the ban on H-1B visas until the end of 2020 was contradicted by industrial experts. The Department of Homeland Security in its recent press release revised the definition of specialty occupation to focus more on getting the best and brightest foreign nationals via H-1B visa program, and revised the definition of employment and employer-employee relationship to better protect US workers and wages.
The US move to protect jobs for American citizens at time of economic crisis is understandable, but harsh. This approach however is stopping the flow of skilled IT professionals, Engineers, researchers, doctors, entrepreneurs and future executives. Canada for long has a reputation for openness and diversity. Canadian Government introduced programs such as Global Talent Stream, which encouraged innovative companies to demonstrate the acceptance of specialized skills and fast-track the entry of foreign workers.
Sharp increase in Enquiries
Canadian recruiting firms reported a sharp increase in enquiries over the news of proposed suspension. The American companies which want to hold on to certain key employees whose status in US might be uncertain because of the visa conditions are considering the Canadian options. Several Silicon Valley start-ups may shift part of their engineering teams to Canada following the suspension of H-1B visa. Due to tough H-1B visa norms, many US firms opened offices in Canada last year and are expanding their operations.
Canada presents itself as an alternative for the ongoing uncertainty in the H-1b visa stream. Several small businesses have been receiving applications from Immigrants in the US to work at the Canadian office.
Immigration and work permits
Between January and April 2020 Canada issued 76,000 work permits and more than 341,000 immigrants were welcomed in 2019. 70% if the engineers on H-1B visas are either moving back to their home countries or Canada. For several US companies having centers in Canada and being able to offer a position in Canada adds to their value proposition and employees are also encouraged to work remotely from Canada. This has helped them to hold on to key talent or to fill roles that cannot be filled locally.
Canada has some of the diverse cities in the world and their economy is driven by newcomers. There is a broader consensus across the political spectrum that Canada benefits from immigration as much as immigrants do from being in Canada.
Shortly after the visa suspension was announced, Canada’s immigration minister Marco Mendicino said, “We believe that immigration will spring our recovery out of this pandemic. We have a plan in place that looks to leverage the best and the brightest from around the world. We’ve got pathways like the Express Entry program, and the Global Talent Stream, which will help to bring entrepreneurs, engineers, and innovators.” To conclude Canada has been welcoming people from all over the world including those who no longer feel welcomed in America.
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