Canada’s Global Skills Strategy to attract Indian techies

Software professionals now prefer to go to Canada despite having an option to stay in the US

By Author  |  Published: 15th May 2019  12:06 amUpdated: 14th May 2019  8:38 pm
Global Skills Strategy
Vivek Tandon, founder and CEO of EB5 BRICS

With the stringent regulations and uncertainty over the H1B Visa extension by the US Government, Canada will be the next destination for IT professionals through the nation’s Global Skills Strategy programme, rolled out in 2017, setting a target of attracting 3.1 lakh permanent residents in 2018 and 3.3 lakh in 2019. Software professionals now prefer to go to Canada despite having an option to stay in the US, Vivek Tandon, founder and CEO of EB5 BRICS tells Y V Phani Raj and shares trends.

How many H1B visas were issued by the US in 2018 to global and Indian citizens?
The US issues 85,000 new H-1B visas every year- 65,000 under the Regular cap and 20,000 under Advanced Degree Exemption cap for applicants with advanced degrees from US universities. Further, H-1B visas come up for renewal every year and are not part of this cap. As of October 2018, there were 4,19,637 (renewals and fresh applications) foreign nationals in the US on H-1B visas. Out of these, 3,09,986 were Indians.

What are your projections for 2019?
The annual cap remains unchanged. However, the selection process has been tweaked in favour of advanced degree holders. Going ahead, more applicants with advanced degrees from US institutions will qualify and IT workers with Bachelor’s degree will struggle under the new selection process.

Why is Canada’s Global Skills Strategy programme attractive?
Unlike the US, Canada has positioned itself as an immigrant-friendly destination. The Global Skills Strategy is a lot simpler and faster than the US H-1B programme. Work permits are processed within two weeks. The Express Entry application system offers a transparent route to permanent residence with a processing time of just six months. Canada’s immigration policies focus on attracting skilled workers, including tech workers and IT professionals. It is well on its way to achieve its 1-million immigrant target for 2018-21.

Canada issued 86,022 Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residence to skilled workers in 2017. Out of this, 36,310 ITAs were issued to Indians. In 2018, this figure rose to 41,000.

Are the norms for Canada’s programme comparable to that of H1B Visa?
Yes and no. Like H-1B, the Global Skills Strategy is designed for skilled workers with unique and specialised talent. Employers must prove absence of such workers in Canada and pay prevailing or higher wages for the foreign worker. Working in Canada should make it easier for the worker to apply for permanent residence under Express Entry. However, there are important distinctions. A visa under the Global Talent Stream is valid for only two years and cannot be renewed. Further, the employer commits to transferring skills from the foreign worker to Canadian workers.

What is the pay scenario for IT professionals?
Canada has become popular primarily because it has become tougher for Indians to work in the US on an H-1B visa. However, Canada is yet to match the US on various parameters ranging from size of its tech industry to the average tech salaries, which is around $142,000 in and around Silicon Valley as opposed to $73,000 in Toronto. Further, Indians constitute a significant presence in the US while the size of the Indian community is much smaller in Canada.

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