The H-1B visa is a United States work permit that allows foreign-born citizens with specialized knowledge or a ‘fashion model of qualification’ to work in the United States.
There are aspects of the H-1B visa program that can create complications for workers, such as deadlines. Some H-1B visas are valid for up to three years with the option of extending for another three years. Once the extension is complete, visa holders must leave the United States for a full year without re-entry, making it difficult for visa holders to settle down or start a family.
There is also a lower limit on the number of visas issued by the United States each year to 65,000 and an additional 20,000 visas issued to candidates with higher education such as master’s degrees. While this may seem like a large number of visas, it is quite small compared to the overall size of the United States workforce.
With these difficulties in mind, many skilled workers who wish to obtain permanent residency turn their attention to Canada. There are a number of temporary work permit options available for people with specialized knowledge and many of them can be used as leverage to obtain permanent residency.
Overall, it may be more convenient to choose Canada as a place to work. Here are some options to consider:
Global Talent Stream
The Global Talent Stream is designed for foreign nationals who work in technical and IT fields, or what the H-1B would define as a “specialty occupation.”
It is considered part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and prior to hiring, employers must first obtain a neutral or positive Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) to be eligible . ESDC assesses whether hiring employees from outside Canada would have a positive, neutral or negative impact on the Canadian labor market
The section was created to facilitate the development of Canada’s technology industry and aims to achieve a processing standard of two weeks after the final application is submitted by a potential employee.
Foreign nationals on H-1B visas are often employees of multinational companies, which means they may have branches in both the US and Canada.
Intra-company transfer (ICT) occurs when employees of multinational companies move to the Canadian branch of the company. The transferee is often in a management position or has other specialized knowledge.
Additionally, employees of US companies seeking to establish a presence in Canada may apply for an Intra-Company Startup Work Permit. This type of permit allows employees to start operating a Canadian branch of a multinational company.
Mexicans who have already obtained H-1B visas may be eligible to work in Canada through the Canada-US-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Candidates must be eligible to work in their occupation and must be able to work in Canada only in the role for which they were hired.
Using Your Experience for Permanent Residency
Work experience gained through any of these work permits can be used to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry.
Express Entry is an application management system used by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to manage the Federal Skilled Worker Program, the Federal Skilled Trades Program and the Canadian Experience Class.
Once a candidate has self-assessed whether they are eligible for the Express Entry programme, they can create a profile on the IRCC website. IRCC will then provide a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score that is based on work experience, education, language abilities and other human capital factors. The higher a candidate’s score, the more likely they are to receive an invitation to the Application for Permanent Residence (ITA).
Once a candidate receives the ITA, he/she has 60 days to send his/her final application. IRCC has a processing standard of six months for all new applications.
Provincial Nominee Program
It is also possible to become a permanent resident through several streams in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).
All Canadian provinces except Quebec and Nunavut have PNPs that work with IRCC. Under these programs, provincial governments select candidates they feel would be a good fit in the province. Many Canadian provinces have immigration streams designed to attract talent for in-demand occupations such as technology and health care.
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