Restrictive U.S. immigration good for Canada tech sector
The result could be an explosion of immigration to Canada by high-
U.S. policies are becoming ever more constrictive. Many policy changes and proposals over the past two years have or would make hiring or obtaining a job as a highly skilled foreign tech worker in the U.S. harder than ever — and immigrating to or remaining in the U.S. less appealing to high-skilled talent. These include a pending proposal to remove H-4 dependent spouses (of
H-1B visa holders) from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization. This proposal caused a coalition of business and tech advocacy groups representing giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Google to urge the Trump administration to continue to allow employment authorization for spouses of H-1B visa holders.
As noted in a letter sent by the group to the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the group encouraged the USCIS “to maintain the program given its importance to the business community and to the American economy,” since other countries permit employment by spouses of similarly positioned workers. Removing this opportunity for H-1B spouses would result, they argue, in a large loss of skilled labor, as workers would be more likely to choose opportunities in other countries that allow their spouses to pursue career opportunities and/or provide a supplemental income to the family.
H-1B Specialty Occupation visas
These visas are available to professionals from any country and are therefore highly sought after. Unfortunately, the U.S. severely limits the number of these visas it hands out each year. Only a total of 85,000 are available, which includes 20,000 earmarked for professionals who have been awarded an advanced degree from a U.S. institution. With hundreds of thousands of new applications typically submitted within the first week of the filing period, this means that the odds are not in any given petitioner’s favor.
These visas are also available to people from all over the world, but require that beneficiaries either have a major internationally recognized award in their field (we’re talking Nobel Prize, here) or that they meet several other categories demonstrating extraordinary ability (such as lesser nationally or internationally recognized awards, high salary compared to others, published material about them and their work, having been a judge of the work of others in their field, etc.).
While the door is still open to U.S. tech sector workers, nothing is actively being done to adapt laws or policies to create a welcoming environment in the U.S. As a result, the U.S. may find itself unwittingly short-handed as savvy tech workers find better short- and long-term options and opportunities elsewhere.
Elizabeth M. Klarin, counsel with Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, has more than 15 years of immigration experience assisting clients with the full spectrum of U.S. immigration matters. She represents clients from around the globe across virtually every industry, as well as individuals seeking strategic immigration options and solutions.
This article was originally published by The Lawyer’s Daily (www.thelawyersdaily.ca), part of LexisNexis Canada Inc.
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CANADIAN TECH SECTOR