You might have heard about how Canada has a merit-centric immigration system while the US does not. But what exactly does it mean?


The answer lies in the fact that the H-1B visa for skilled workers is a hot and controversial election topic in the US. Asylum for refugees is a social issue with multiple economic and political implications, which means it is natural for this issue to become a big deal in elections.

But how can the question of allowing skilled workers for positions and occupations with shortage of domestic workers become a political hot potato?   

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Canada vs. US—Comparing Immigration Systems

Despite 200,000 applications for 85,000 visas released every year, there’s no clarity on whether a Bachelor’s degree is advanced enough for an applicant to qualify for the H-1B visa.

Canada, on the other hand, has a predictable and transparent set of rules for work permits and permanent residence.  

  • Check the eligibility requirements of the program you want to qualify under.
  • Go through the scoring system and calculate your score.
  • If your score is higher than the cutoff score in the latest draw, then you will get an Invitation to Apply.
  • Apply, submit documents, and if everything is good, then your application will be approved.

No lotteries, no processing times running into scores of decades, and certainly no controversial proposals and frequent rule changes based on which party is running the government.  

Decentralization Works

The federal government may set immigration targets but states have the freedom to frame their own immigration programs and streams.

States are free to design their own immigration programs and nominate eligible applicants for permanent residence. They can also dip into the EE pool, identify candidates that meet their eligibility requirements and invite them to apply for nomination.

Having a valid job offer results in a 200-point boost to your CRS score while a provincial nomination results in a 600-point boost and  a virtual guarantee of selection in the next EE draw.

Primacy to the states ensures a bottom-up approach to immigration ensures all issues and problems are sorted before they spiral out of control.

Only the Best are Welcome

A Ph.D. degree holder is ranked higher than a foreigner who has just completed secondary education. Applicants of the most productive ages score more than those who are either too young or too old.

Canadian experience and connections fetch you points, and even here, work experience in Canada is valued more than say having a relative in the country. Education, work experience, job offer, adaptability, language skills—everything is ranked and graded.

It may not be a perfect system but there’s little scope for luck, lotteries, or administrative discretion to determine whether you get selected or not.

In-Built Flexibility Built Into the System

Canada simply opted for program-specific draws at a time when international travel was restricted. This effectively shut out FSWP applicants from receiving ITAs but it allowed CEC and FSTP selections to continue.

This meant the system could be tweaked to tackle Covid-19 disruptions without any hassles. Obviously, this is a much better, smarter, and stronger system than the US where there can either be uncontrolled immigration or a complete shut down on entry of immigrants into the country.

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