In the last two years, H-1B visas have been experiencing several delays and restrictions. The numbers tell the story. A research paper on H1B visas by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), a not-for-profit policy think-tank based at Arlington, in Virginia says there was a 42% increase in denial of H1B petitions of foreign-born professionals. The H1B visa has always been controversial as it is considered by many a threat to American employees. Meanwhile, Canada has been increasing immigration quotas and reducing processing times.
Around 80% of employers expect their headcount of foreign nationals to either increase or stay the same in 2019; even more (95 percent) think that sourcing foreign talent is an “extremely, very, or somewhat important” to their overall talent acquisition strategy. Employers consider Canada’s immigration policy more favorable to their operations than U.S. policy.
Canada’s ultra-fast visa processing stands in stark contrast to the United States, where the Trump administration has put tighter controls on the H-1B visa and the H-4 EAD
The U.S. currently selects 12% of immigrants on the basis of skill and employment, 66% on family ties, and 21% on “humanitarian/diversity lottery/other.” The Trump plan would shift that to 57% of visas issued due to skill and employment, 33 percent family, and 10% humanitarian.
How that will align with the attempts to squeeze the H-1B visa is anybody’s guess (consistency of policy across agencies has not been the Trump administration’s strong suit). In the meantime, Canada—along with a number of U.S. tech firms—seem to be taking advantage of the USCIS delays to pull in more foreign tech professionals to their Canadian outposts. Canada is among the world’s most generous nations for immigrants and has one of the highest per capita admission rates. It has, on average, offered residency to about 200,000 immigrants and refugees a year over the past decade, earning a global reputation for an “open arms” attitude.
One major difference in employment when making the move from the US to Canada is at-will employment. At-will means an employee can be terminated for any reason, at any time, without warning and is the common practice in the US. Once terminated, the employer is not obligated to provide severance to the employee. In Canada, however, employees must receive two weeks notice of their termination or two weeks regular salary or severance, contingent on the number of years worked.
Another major difference between the US and Canada are the rights of workers to take maternity or paternity leave.
The United States is the only high-income country, and one of only eight countries in the world, that does not mandate paid leave for mothers of newborns
Although eligible American employees may be able to take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave, this time off is unpaid. Across the border from the US in Canada, the laws are much different. Both parents can participate in taking a standard paid leave of 35 weeks or an extended leave of 61 weeks. During this leave, a portion of the employee’s salary is paid and their job is held for when they will return.
Immigrating to Canada from the US won’t permit you to stop filing or even paying US taxes. The US and Canada have treaties in place to prevent both fiscal evasion and double taxation. While filing taxes in both countries may seem similar – comparable tax structure and lots of paperwork – there are some key differences. The biggest difference: if you’re working in Canada, you’ll most likely pay more taxes. Though this may make the US look better on the surface, you need to keep in mind where these tax dollars are going. In Canada, those tax dollars go towards a number of social services including universal healthcare and education, whereas a relatively higher proportion of US tax revenue goes towards funding US defense programs.
If you are married or in a common-law partnership, you will also want to note that there are no joint tax returns. In Canada, each individual must file his/her own tax return. This does not mean, however, that you cannot combine yours and your partner’s expenses, such as childcare and charitable donations.
On the health front, in Canada, all Canadian citizens and permanent residents have access to their home province’s health insurance program which covers necessary hospital and physician services. In the US, healthcare is normally provided by the company you work for. However, if your employer is not part of an insurance program, you find yourself without a job, or any number of other reasons you may find yourself unable to afford private insurance in the States.