Even for highly educated and skilled professionals, obtaining a non-immigrant visa or permanent legal residence in the United States is extremely difficult. This is also very true for international students in the United States that are having issues changing status from F-1 to an employment based visa after graduation from school and/or using up their OPT.
The most appropriate business visa for foreign skilled workers and international professionals is the H-1B visa and employers are increasingly unwilling to participate as sponsors. For this reason, certain individuals who are skilled and experience, may want to consider Canada as a viable option to migrate if the United States is not working out.
In Canada, obtaining Permanent Residence status is not as stringent as the United States and there are various self sponsorship options that do not require an employer to participate in the process. Canada’s Quebec Province even offers special programmes for francofone professionals that do not require a job offer as well.
Highlights and Features of Canada Permanent Resident Status:
For International Students, Foreign Professionals & H-1B Workers in US
Express entry (electronic point based selection system)
Great for Persons under 35
Masters preferred but bachelor degrees are possible
3 years of work history preferred
Requires high proficiency in English
For Francophone Speakers - International Students, Professionals, and H-1B Workers
Quebec immigration program- no job offer required- opening in august
Fluent French, writing, listening, speaking , reading and medium English
Education min bachelor (master of course better)
Age up to 35 but higher can be permissible too
Minimum 3 years experience ( anything which is not a low skilled positionl, does not have to be related to education)
Note: ALL of above for PERMANENT RESIDENCE (i.e. like Green Card for U.S. Permanent Legal Residence. Also, after 3 years living in Canada as permanent residents, applicants can possibly apply for Canadian Citizenship)
Recap of the Employment and Entrepreneurship options in the United States:
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) typically grants two types of visas:
Immigrant. These are permanent. Get an immigrant visa, and you receive a Green Card also known as Permanent Legal Residence
Non-immigrant. These visas are temporary—either on a temporary, seasonal, annual, or three-year basis or more.
EB-1. Reserved for Priority Workers. For foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
It is a very high bar to obtain these visas and can be very expensive to prepare these applications.
EB-2. Reserved for professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
These option requires an employer to sponsor or a national interest waiver, which is also expensive and difficult to obtain.
EB-3. Reserved for "Skilled" or "Professional Workers," defined as: foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees not qualifying for a higher preference category; skilled workers with two years training; and experience and unskilled workers. In almost all cases, a job offer and labour certification are required. More recently the introduction of Programmed Electronic Review Management (PERM) is making the application process more complicated but is cutting waiting times significantly.
This option requires a labor certification that requires that the position to be marketed to U.S. Citizens first before being offered to a foreign worker.
EB-4. Special Immigrants. Reserved for religious workers, employees and former employees of the US government abroad.
These options only apply in limited circumstances.
EB-5. Immigrant Investor visa. Reserved for those who set-up a business in the States with a minimum investment figure of at least $500,000.
This program is obviously the most expensive option and is also under political scrutiny. The $500,000 investments must go through regional centers which are not always reputable. Also investments are typically $1,000,000 or more without a Regional Center.
Non-immigrant visas typically have a limit placed upon them as to how many applicants can receive the status. With H-2B and H-1B visas, the cap is 66,000 individuals per year.
It is notoriously difficult to get these types of visas, unless the applicant is able to apply as soon as the opportunity to do so arises. Applicants that wait to 30 days prior to the opening of the cap often miss out on the chance to be approved to hire nonimmigrant workers.
Non-immigrant Employment Visas
H-1B. Speciality Worker. Reserved for professions in which specific labour shortages are experienced in specialised industries. Qualifications for the via include college education and extraordinary ability.
There is a cap on the amount of these visas that is reached on the first couple days of its eligibility. Employers are increasingly unwilling to use this option.
H-2A. Reserved for temporary and seasonal agriculture workers. This program supplements the needs of farms, greenhouses, and other agriculturally-oriented businesses throughout the United States. There is no cap on this visa status, but the requirements placed upon the employers are very strict.
This visa is not appropriate for professional workers.
H-2B. Reserved for temporary and seasonal unskilled NonImmigrant workers. This visa is typically sought by employers and workers in the Hospitality, Tourism, Construction, Landscaping, and other unskilled industries.
This is also typically reserved for non-skilled workers and also the cap is making employers unwilling to use this option
Intracompany Transfers. Employees of foreign companies with parent companies, branches or subsidiaries in the US are able to work in the United States under the L Intracompany Transferee visa designation.
L-1A. Reserved for executive or managerial roles
L-1B. This status covers specialised skills and knowledge.
This option requires the existence of a foreign business with common ownership with the U.S. based company. The foreign business must be at least 3 years old and only certain employees and executives can use the L-1 Visa.
Non-Immigrant Entrepreneurship Visas
E Treaty Traders and Investors. A Treaty Trader is an individual from a country with which the US has a trade treaty.
E-1. Treaty Trader. Reserved for those carrying out a trade of an international nature. Typically granted to those doing business on their own behalf, but also allowed for individuals doing business as the employee of a foreign business.
E-2. Treaty Investor. The E-2 is for those who invest a 'substantial' amount of capital in a US enterprise that they are seeking to develop. This designation is often popular with business-oriented individuals from the British Isles. Renewals, which are typically granted for three years, can be gained should the business continue to meet the requirements. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can accompany the primary beneficiaries.
Applying for Permanent Legal Residence in Canada
The Express Entry program is Canada’s expedited process for obtaining Permanent Residence. All applicants are processed through a score based system that analyses specific talents, experiences, and career potential of the applicants. The top ranking applicants are notified of an invitation to become Permanent Residents. After receiving the Permanent Resident invitation, the applicant has a few options to accept the invitation.
Applicants may chose a providence, open a business, obtain assistance from a family member, or take advantage of francophone skills in Quebec. Benefits afforded to Permanent Residents include universal healthcare coverage, work authorization, and travel privileges throughout Canada. To maintain permanent resident status, you must maintain residence within Canada for two out of five years.
Obtaining Citizenship in Canada
Citizenship requires that a person be a Permanent Resident and maintain physical presence in Canada for at least 1,460 days (four 365-day periods) in the six years immediately before the date of the Citizenship application. Applicants must also be prepared to submit 4 years of tax returns and demonstrate the ability to speak English and/or French.
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