Jan 19, 2018 – Canadians are finding it much more difficult to move to the U.S. since Donald Trump became president, despite there being no formal change in the immigration procedure.
Trump has threatened to crack down on the various avenues of immigration from all countries, including through NAFTA, but aside from his on-off immigration ban there has so far been not legislation passed.
However, the message has clearly gone out to immigration officers to increase red tape, meaning prospective immigrants, including Canadians, are facing more paperwork, more scrutiny and significantly longer waiting times for applications to be processed.
Meanwhile, Canadians already in the U.S. as on Treaty NAFTA visas are waiting nervously for the outcome of talks on the restructuring of the agreement, with Trump threatening to pull out altogether from what he has called ‘the worst trade deal of all time’.
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Trump was forced to state ‘I am not a racist’ after reportedly using foul language when asking why the U.S. had to accept immigrants from Haiti and African countries in a recent behind-closed-doors meeting.
But it seems the president is reluctant to accept immigrants from anywhere, as he attempts to ‘make America great again’.
Experts in the U.S. are saying everything is slower than it was a year ago. Cases that would once have sailed through are taking months longer, as application backlogs grow.
All kinds of Canadian candidates are being affected, from highly skilled professionals, to corporate transfers, people marrying Americans and those already in the U.S. seeking permanent residence.
There is no hard data to support the trend, but U.S. immigration lawyers are seeing applications denied for small issues that would once have gone unnoticed.
Reports suggest green card applications are taking double the normal six months processing time, forcing candidates to wait a year from when their paperwork is submitted.
‘Requests for Evidence’
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are being accused of slowing down applications by increasing the number of ‘requests for evidence’ (RFEs) being asked for. This is the term used for when immigration officials ask for further documentary proof to back up an application. Such requests are up 44 per cent in 2017 compared to 2016, according to USCIS statistics published by Bloomberg.
In the case of the H-1B visa, there needs to be proof the position in question requires a high enough skilled level to qualify. Trump argues computer programmers are being brought in from abroad to take jobs away from Americans.
The visa is hugely popular in Silicon Valley, where most of the major U.S. technology giants are based. But suddenly human resources departments are finding applications that once cruised through are now being held up. Experts who have dealt with hundreds of applications are seeing letters requesting further information they have never seen before.
On the flipside, Canada has positioned itself to benefit from the U.S. immigration slowdown by attracting much-needed skilled workers north of the border.
As U.S. companies struggle to bring in the skilled workers they need, the opposite is true in Canada, where technology start-ups are hailing the impact of the Global Talent Stream, an initiative that boasts two-week visa and Canada work permit processing as its headline benefit.
With a Canada immigration system geared towards helping skilled workers who come here on temporary visas stay long term and become permanent residents, the benefits of major businesses establishing offices north of the border are more apparent.
How Can Canada Help?
Canada’s federal government just announced its intention to welcome nearly one million new immigrants over the next three years. In an historic announcement, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen showed the government understands the link between immigration and economic prosperity.
Canada also has one of the world’s most modern immigration programs, geared towards accepting large numbers of skilled, economic immigrants through the Express Entry System.
The forward-thinking nature of Canada’s policy does not stop with permanent residents. Feedback from a number of start-ups, particularly in the technology industry, said Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program was too cumbersome when trying to attract the best talent from abroad. The six-month processing time and Labour Market Impact Assessment requirement frequently saw the growth of start-ups stall without the required talent to drive them forward.
The government’s response was the Global Talent Stream, a new stream under TFWP allowing certain companies wishing to fill high-skilled positions a tailored service and exemption from LMIA requirements.
Key Elements of The Global Talent Stream
- Two-week standard for processing Canada work permit applications (and Canada visa applications when applicable) for highly skilled talent.
- Dedicated service for companies looking to make significant job-creating investments in Canada.
- Dropping of the work permit requirement for short-term highly skilled work (30 days or less in a 12-month period), and brief academic stays.
- Companies applying for workers through the Global Talent Stream will have access to the new streamlined application process that will provide:
- Client-focused service to help guide eligible employers through the application process and the development of the Labour Market Benefits Plan, with a service standard of 10 business days.
- Eligibility for workers to have their work permit applications processed in 10 business days.
Once these high-skilled workers are in Canada and working, the immigration system is geared towards allowing them to make the transition to permanent residence.
Core factors under Express Entry include Canadian work experience, with up to 80 points available. The university education of high-skilled workers also scores between 120 and 150 points. Permanent high-skilled job offers from Canadian employers score 200 points.
With Invitations to Apply under Express Entry consistently issued to those in the region of 440 points, high-skilled workers with job offers are effectively assured a permanent pathway.
The Next Step
If U.S. businesses are already finding themselves restricted by back-door changes being made to the H-1B visa, the indication is it will only get worse.
Trump appears to have every intention of launching a formal crackdown on the visa, which has helped many thousands of skilled workers move to the U.S. for employment.
Businesses considering Canada are advised to move forward with their plans as soon as possible. If they decide to do so, they will find a fluid and tailored immigration system geared towards helping them hire the best people and continue on their growth pathway.
Interested employers: Kindly contact us here to receive further information.
Interested candidates: Find out whether you qualify to Canada by completing our free on-line evaluation. We will provide you with our evaluation within 1-2 business days.
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