Planning to Study or Work Abroad? Learn from Indians and Choose Canada over the US

What’s the most important factor that people consider when considering a foreign degree or a foreign job? And the answer is—after my degree or work experience, then what?

It’s rare for any youngster to plan to return home immediately after completing his or her foreign degree. Everybody plans for an internship or post-degree job or project to acquire foreign work experience before returning.

Similarly, anybody working on a foreign project would want to secure options that will help him or her work in the foreign country for a long time before returning home.

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For a very long time, the US was a study/work destination that ticked this box. OPT followed by H-1B followed by an EB-category application gave students a clear path to the US green card. This made the investment in an expensive foreign degree worth the cost.

However, Canada has overtaken the US as the preferred destination for foreign students and skilled workers alike. And the numbers clearly prove this.

Around 40,000 Indians became Canadian permanent residents in 2016. By 2019, this figure had risen by more than 100 percent to 80,685. This is a staggering increase considering that a permanent residence application is a big decision with significant long-term implications for the applicant and his/her family.

In 2017 and 2018, foreign admissions in Canada rose by 20 percent and 16 percent respectively. In contrast, US universities saw foreign admissions dip by more than ten percent between 2016 and 2019.

There are growing hopes that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic has passed, which means it’s time to aggressively plan for your foreign degree or start searching for a job abroad. And here are the reasons why choosing Canada over the US makes sense.

Immigration-Friendly Destination

President Trump may have actually done very little to discourage immigration in terms of formal legal enactments and statutes. However, the volume of rhetoric and bizarre and scary proposals combined with adverse Executive Orders has made it clear that the US does not want immigrants.

On the other hand, Canada’s latest Immigration Plan clearly conveys that Canada wants and respects immigrants. Canada looks to symbiotic relations with skilled immigrants and this shows in its immigration-friendly policies and regulations.

After Study, What?

There’s a lack of clarity on post-study options in the US. The H-1B visa program is in tatters and there has been a lot of negative rhetoric about Optional Practical Training as well.

In contrast, Canada has a formal Post-Graduation Work Permit program for students seeking work opportunities in Canada after graduation. This program runs separately compared to work permits under TFWP and IMT for foreign workers.

Different provincial nomination programs have International Graduate streams that give you a shot at Canadian PR by virtue of the fact that you have graduated from a Canadian institution. Some provinces require you to study within the province while other streams allow international graduates as long as you completed your course or degree from Canada.

And then, there are Pilot programs like the Atlantic Pilot that have easier eligibility requirements provided you are ready to settle in one of the Atlantic provinces.

Job Found, Now What?

Not every individual finding a job abroad will necessarily settle there. However, it’s not too much to ask for a transparent and predictable route to permanent residence. Finding a job in the US may not be tough but getting a work visa has become a lot tougher.

Further, the extremely slow pace of processing of EB-category visas means that it’s pretty much impossible to plan for the long-term.

Canada has a stable and merit-centric study-work-immigrate route for foreigners. Express Entry for skilled workers, numerous PNP streams for international graduates- workers as well as entrepreneurs, along with Pilot programs offering settlement assistance and a fast-track route to immigration even for those without work experience.

Those not planning on immigrating immediately can take advantage of their Canada experience by qualifying through Express Entry under the Canada Experience program.

Entrepreneurs? Welcome only in Canada

A H-1B worker or a skilled worker with a pending EB-category application does not have the option of becoming an entrepreneur. Even foreign students passing out from an American institution don’t have an easy and simple option to stay in the country and start their own business or venture.

Canada has a formal and mature framework for entrepreneurs, investors, and business person. There is a work permit for self-employed workers that allows you to run your business in Canada as long you own more than 50 percent of the venture.

Then, there’s the Owner-Operator LMIA work permit where you own the business and appoint yourself as its employee to manage its operations in Canada.

PR options for entrepreneurs include the federal Startup Visa program along with International Graduate Entrepreneur streams offered by Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.

Of course, you can complete the PR process and then change your career plans and shift from a job to your own business once you have become a Canadian permanent resident.

Canada or US—Let Their Pandemic Response Guide You

Why you should choose Canada over the US is pretty clear once you see how the two countries plan on kickstarting their pandemic-hit economies.

The US has clearly opted for insular and isolationist policies. It has shut down immigration and is focusing on saving jobs for its citizens by preventing foreign skilled workers from entering. While President Trump may have lost, it can be safely said that his policies still find support among a large proportion of the US population.

Canada has chosen to welcome skilled immigrants and looks to encourage them to create jobs. It has raised its immigration target to 1.33 million immigrants between 2021 and 2023. Its focus on economic immigration continues and there will be more emphasis on community-centric immigration programs.

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