Canada continues to attract H-1B holders from the USA

November, 2009

During a recent immigration managers meeting at Canada's consulate in Los Angeles, it was discovered that an alarming amount of US H-1B visa holders are being scouted and hired by Canadian companies.

You can live & work in Canada! go >

Each year waves of educated, skilled immigrant workers vie for the coveted US H-1B visa, however, due to a cap on the number of visas issued each year (currently 65,000), only a limited number of foreign professionals are granted an H-1B visa. The H-1B program also allocates an additional 20,000 H-1B visas for cap-exempt foreign professionals holding a U.S. master’s or higher degree, never the less, this still leaves thousands of potential employees overlooked.

The U.S. Congress created the H-1B program more than fifty years ago and established an annual cap of 65,000 in 1990. Since 1990 the cap has been subject to much change, in October 2000, President Clinton passed the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act (AC21), which increased the annual limit to 195,000 for the years 2001, 2002 and 2003. Later, the US Congress passed the H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004, which reduced the H-1B cap back to 65,000 and created the cap-exempt provision for foreign professionals holding a US master’s or higher degree.

Workers who have been shut out of this visa category need not worry, because America's northern neighbour has kindly extended them an olive branch.

Within the last ten years, Canada has opened its doors to thousands of skilled workers from the United States. In fact from 1998 to 2008, Ottawa has seen the number of workers double from 1,969 to 4,085.

Although this provides a great advantage for Canada, business leaders in the U.S. are starting to see the ramifications of their government closing the door on potential workers. Last month Microsoft founder Bill Gates, commented at a congressional committee, that, "The smartest people want to come here and that's a huge advantage to us... in a sense we're turning them away." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has also rallied to increase the number of H-1B visas, acknowledging the fact that countries such as Canada is a great place to find talent.

Tom Jenkins, executive chairman of Waterloo, Ontario-based Open Text agreed that the lack of H-1B visas has, "left Canada at a competitive advantage for attracting talent."

It would seem that former H-1B visa holders have taken to the climate and friendly nature of Canada as these workers find cities such as Toronto and Vancouver to be more multicultural than the U.S.

The province of Alberta along with Immigration Canada has created a special program that offers H-1B visa holders permanent residence as long as they have at least one year of work experience in the U.S.

So far approximately 393 applicants have been granted their permanent status, with much more certainly to follow.

If you are interested in Visas to Canada, contact Migration Expert for information and advice on which visa is best suited to you. You can also try our Visa Assessment to see if you are eligible to apply for a visa to Canada.