Canada to U.S.: Send Us Your Tired, Jobless H-1B Workers
On Sunday, Canada will roll out its red carpet to 10,000 H-1B holders from the United States, offering them open work permits and providing family members with their own work and study visas. Thousands of Indian nationals – currently in long green card queues in the U.S. and nearing their six-year H-1B max-out limit – are looking to head north.
Under the Canadian initiative, H-1B visa holders would receive work permits for up to three years. Applicants do not need to have a job offer in hand. Work experience in Canada can be used to accumulate points toward permanent residency.
But don’t weep for American companies that are allegedly losing irreplaceable high-tech talent. Canada’s program could benefit them.
“This will be an easy, temporary solution to have their H-1B workers ‘parked’ in Canada,” says Mishita Jethi, partner and attorney at the New York office of law firm Chugh LLP. “With some creative employment structures with affiliate companies, some candidates might even qualify for an L-1 work permit visa even though the U.S. employer has no entity in Canada.”
Amid ongoing layoffs in the U.S. technology sector, Indians on H-1B visas are expected to grab Ottawa’s lifeline and join the swelling ranks of fellow countrymen north of the border. The number of Indian nationals who are permanent Canadian residents soared from 32,828 in 2013 to 118,095 last year, a 260 percent increase.
“The [Justin] Trudeau government’s plan to poach 10,000 H-1Bs per annum doesn’t seem like it poses that big of a threat to the $23.32 trillion U.S. economy,” opines Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies. “In fact, it would likely at least provide some respite and relief for those U.S. tech workers who are afraid to find pink slips in their electronic pay envelopes.”
Despite chronic complaints by immigration enthusiasts and bottom-feeding corporate recruiters that America isn’t importing enough workers of the world, the Biden administration continues to dig new channels for foreign labor.
Last year, the sprawling and lightly regulated Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for foreign student workers added 22 qualifying fields of study, including cloud computing, anthrozoology, climate science, and mathematical economics.
This month, the Department of Homeland Security announced its intention to expand its DHS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Designated Degree Program List by adding eight qualifying fields of study. The list determines which degrees are available for international students to qualify for a 24-month extension of OPT work eligibility. OPT allows for 12 months of practical training.
If Canada wants a piece of the global workforce that lost jobs in America or is running out of its legally allotted time here, Trudeau & Co. are welcome to it. But the Canadian economy (smaller than the state of California) has its limits. Opening the door to 10,000 foreign nationals (and their families) who may not even have an offer of employment might be good business for Canada’s munificent welfare state, but it may not serve Canadians well.