The much sought-after Indian talent is moving to Canada from the US due to the country’s outdated immigration policies, particularly on H-1B visas, experts have told American lawmakers.
Not just H-1B visas, here is a lowdown on why and how India’s pool is moving further north:
Are there lesser students enrolling in the US now?
Indians are the second-largest student community in the US at 1.93 lakh, next only to the Chinese.
Over the last couple of years, the number of students enrolling at US universities had declined at the back of stringent visa regulations under the Trump administration. The US government’s move to do away with the Optional Practical Training, which provided international students the opportunity to work in the US, did not help matters.
In the last financial year (October 2019-September 2020), the US saw a 64 percent decline in student visas issued, a drop that can to a large extent, be attributed to COVID-19.
As per the Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education (IIE), Indian students in the US declined by close to 4.4 percent in FY19. This comes after the 25 percent jump in the number of Indians who took admission
in American universities in FY 15 and FY16, pointed out a Mint report.
Massive backlog of green cards for Indians?
Immigration and policy experts have testified before a panel of US lawmakers that the per-country quota on issuing the green cards is driving Indian talent away from the United States.
Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee-Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, National Foundation for American Policy Stuart Anderson said the backlog is increasing and, within a decade, more than 20 lakh people
will be waiting in line for the green cards and they might have to wait for years and decades.
Without Congressional action, the total backlog for all three employment-based categories (EB 1, EB 2, EB 3) for Indians would increase from an estimated 9,15,497 individuals currently to an estimated 21,95,795 individuals by fiscal 2030.
But why Canada?
Countries like Canada are going all out to tap into this opportunity.
Apart from jobs and exposure that are the hallmarks of foreign universities, students are now also preferring countries that have managed the pandemic well.
For instance, interest for higher education in countries like New Zealand have increased, where its leader, Jacinda Ardern’s, deft handling of the pandemic garnered appreciation. Canada and Australia, too, are gaining traction.
Even in terms of job opportunities, countries other than the US, are offering equally attractive prospects, what with the tech ecosystem going global. The Silicon Valley companies are now expanding operations across the world beyond their country’s borders. Some Canadian universities have tied-up with companies to offer students internship opportunities as well.
In addition, the tuition fee in Canada is a lot more affordable than the US universities, where it could cost as much as Rs 40 lakh or more for the duration of the course.
Is Canada welcoming Indians?
With the Canadian government’s new call to aspirant immigrants, many hope to move soon. In 2019, Indians were the largest group by ‘country of origin’ to be granted express entry and other categories of skilled immigrant visas for Canada. The Canadian government has set a target of welcoming a record 4,01,000 immigrants to the country this year, despite travel restrictions across the world due to the pandemic.
This has opened up new possibilities for a large number of Indians who wish to leave India and a large number are applying with hopes of immigrating to Canada.
Additionally, Canada is committed to increasing efficiencies in migration processing structures and systems, according to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).