Canada vs. the United States for Indian immigrants

Express Entry

Why are so many more Indians choosing Canada over the United States?

Some Indians choose Canada over the United States as a matter of preference, some as a matter of convenience, but in many cases, it’s due to the differences between the Canadian and the U.S. immigration processes. Let’s start there.

How do you get a Canadian Green Card?

Want full details on how to apply through Express Entry as an Indian? Check out our detailed guide

You can get Canadian permanent resident status (the Canadian equivalent of a U.S. Green Card) through a number of different immigration programs, but the most popular by far for Indian immigrants is the Express Entry immigration system. This provides skilled workers with a pathway directly to permanent resident status. You don’t need a job offer, you don’t need a sponsor – in fact, you don’t ever need to have set foot in Canada before. 

One of the challenges of Express Entry is its competitiveness. Express Entry uses a complex points-based ranking system called the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score to assess all interested candidates. All eligible candidates are assigned a score out of 1,200 points based on factors including age, language abilities in English and French, education, work experience, and connections to Canada. Only the candidates with the highest scores are invited to submit applications for permanent residence. 

Young, highly educated candidates, with a high level of proficiency in either English or French have higher chances of success under Express Entry. Although candidates outside of that dream profile can be successful, it often requires a score boost from another area, like a provincial nomination, a Canadian job offer, or previous Canadian work experience. 

Express Entry is fast

Canada’s Express Entry system is fast. After submitting a final application for permanent residence, the vast majority of applications are processed in less than six months.

Express Entry allows you to bring your family

With Express Entry, you can include your spouse or common-law partner and your dependent children. If you are approved for permanent residence then your accompanying family members also become permanent residents.

Canadian permanent residence is a bridge to citizenship 

New permanent residents can become eligible for Canadian citizenship – including the right to apply for a Canadian passport, one of the most valuable passports in the world – just three years after obtaining permanent status (and sooner if they spent time studying or working in Canada previously). This is far quicker than in the U.S., where the path to citizenship is often measured in decades rather than years. Indians should note that the Constitution of India prevents Indian citizens from holding dual citizenship, but as of 2005 a particular status called Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) allows foreign citizens of Indian origin to live and work in India indefinitely. With this in mind, Canadian citizenship may be attractive to some Indian immigrants to Canada.

Express Entry allows you to immigrate with your spouse or common-law partner, and your dependent children.

So, how does Express Entry compare to the U.S. immigration system?

Express Entry has a few distinct advantages over the U.S. immigration system, especially for Indians. Now that you understand the basics of Express Entry, let’s compare a few of the elements of the U.S. system. 

U.S. immigration doesn’t have a direct-to-permanent-residence immigration system for workers.

While Express Entry allows skilled workers to apply directly for permanent resident status, the United States system is designed so that foreign workers initially arrive on temporary work visas. After gaining work experience and employer sponsorship, a foreign worker in the United States may eventually transition to permanent resident status, but this process takes years. Any issue with an employer or a visa renewal can cause huge issues for your U.S. Green Card.

Express Entry provides a much more efficient and stable process for skilled workers looking to become permanent residents. 

U.S. immigration usually requires a job offer*. 

If you’re hoping to immigrate to the U.S. as a foreign worker, you almost definitely require a job offer in order to succeed. 

Traditionally, most Indian workers in the U.S. begin their journey by obtaining an H-1B visa. This is a work visa allowing you to work for a specific employer in the U.S. If you decide to stay permanently and pursue a Green Card, you will likely need your employer to sponsor your Green Card application. The majority of your immigration journey in the United States is tied directly to your employer.

Meanwhile, as outlined above, the Canadian Express Entry system does not require a job offer. You can apply for your Canadian permanent residence without ever working for an employer in Canada. That being said, obtaining a job offer in Canada and gaining Canadian work experience can be extremely beneficial in increasing your competitiveness under the Express Entry system.

*Please note: The U.S. does allow certain workers to apply for work visas without a job offer. For example, this can be done through the O-Visa program, but only for individuals who can demonstrate “extraordinary ability or achievement” in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.

The U.S. H-1B visa program is experiencing heightened refusals and restrictions.

Since the Trump Administration took office in 2017, applicants to the H-1B visa program have faced increasing challenges. In 2015, the refusal rate for H-1B visa applications was only 6 percent. This refusal rate has increased annually every year since 2015, resulting in 24 percent of H-1B visa applications being denied in 2019.

The increase in H-1B visa refusals has impacted not only those who applied for their first H-1B visa, but also to H-1B holders who applied to extend their status in the United States. While the refusal rate for extensions of status have been lower than those of first-time applicants, that rate has also risen over the past four years. In 2015, the refusal rate for H-1B visa extensions was 3 percent, but this has increased to 12 percent over the past year.

The unstable approval rate for H-1B visas and the challenges of foreign worker retention in the U.S. has led some American companies to hire foreign workers through satellite companies in Canada, simply due to Canada’s less restrictive, more reliable immigration policies. For example, Mobsquad, a Canadian tech company, enables foreign workers from the U.S. to work instead from the Mobsquad office in Canada, where these workers are then contracted back to their original U.S. employer. This is just one of many examples highlighting the stark differences between current U.S. and Canadian immigration policies. 

It can be challenging to bring family members through U.S. foreign worker immigration.

If you want to bring your spouse or partner to the U.S. while you are working on your H-1B visa, you may experience some challenges, especially if your spouse or partner wants the ability to work while they’re in the U.S. 

The U.S. visa category H-4 enables the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders to obtain work authorization while they are employed in the U.S. However, the Trump Administration has been threatening to dismantle this visa category. There is no guarantee that the potential for spousal employment will continue beyond the short term.

Canada’s Express Entry immigration system has a distinct advantage over the U.S. when it comes to family, as Express Entry allows applicants to include accompanying family members. If an Express Entry application is approved, all accompanying family members receive Canadian permanent resident status, and with it, the right to work for any employer in Canada. 

Continued below…

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