The Donald Trump administration’s crackdown on work visas is hitting Indians disproportionately hard and has forced them to turn towards alternatives, with Canada emerging as one of the leading destinations. According to the latest data released by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the US denied H-1B visas to 23.6% of Indian applicants between July and September 2017 – up from 16.6% in the three preceding months.
UK, which was the other preferred destination, has become more difficult to access due to affordability. “It’s very difficult to get into the US or UK now. A few years ago there were more chances but now unless you have a few crores to invest as an entrepreneur or on a specific sponsored work visa, UK is totally closed. So Canada as of now is the most welcoming to new immigrants,” said Hitesh Samel who moved to Canada just three months ago and is working as a cash processor in a security services company.
Samel had decided to move out of India two years ago primarily due to a better quality of life. “Canada is known for it’s higher quality of life too as compared to the US. It also provides free Medical coverage to you along with free Education till high school for children,” he said.
According to a recent report released by Canadian immigration authorities, 2017 witnessed a 200 per cent jump in invitations being extended to Indians for permanent residency in Canada under the country’s Express Entry scheme. Of the 86,022 invitations sent out, 65,401 people and their families were accepted as permanent residents.
The concern, however, is that some of these people are leaving their well-paid jobs and are willing to move despite knowing that they will have to start from scratch.
Lovleen, who have 12 years of experience in customer servicing and has worked in American Express as a lead analyst, is set to move to Canada and will look for opportunities there. “Me and my husband took this decision to immigrate to Canada in order to provide a healthy and safe environment to our kids as well as for better job prospects for us. The decision was a bit tough, but to provide better life to our kids it was an important and necessary decision,” she said.
The reasons behind people migrating from India have also changed over the last two decades. Ajay Sharma, the President of Abhinav Outsourcing who has been practising for last 24 years, told FinancialExpress.com that between the mid-90’s and 2005, the primary purpose was to go abroad and make dollars. “Typical applicant belonged to middle class who wanted to do better financially. Rest all was secondary. Immigration and overseas jobs were often thought to be interchangeable words and we had a tough time explaining that they are different. Businessmen and HNI’s migrating was a rarity,” he said.
However, over the last decade, the purpose has changed to issues like children education, medical facilities, social security benefits, law and order and most importantly less polluting environment to live in. The upper middle class and rich want to make a shift and if not self, they are encouraging their kids to do so – to well-known countries.
“The client is very informed about immigration as a product and related areas including process and post landing challenges. Hence, consultant’s role has changed from be a simple facilitator to a counselor who not only does handholding through the process but also acts as friend during phases of insecurity and uncertainty,” Sharma added.
Even though, Canada has witnessed an increase in migrants, Indians are still open to open countries. Shrayashee Dey who moved to Australia said, “It was easier to get the PR for Australia given our skill set. I have been working with the Australia/New Zealand market for a while through IBM and was interested in moving in. Plus it’s comparatively nearer to India than US or Canada and being the only child of our parents we wanted to be closer to home.”
While what is happening in the US may concern his clients, Sharma said this is not a new phenomenon and has happened an umpteenth number of times. “In early 2000, NZD returned thousands of applications – already accepted into the system for processing – without processing, with just a letter informing of decision and processing fee cheque. Around 2010-2011, same thing happened in Canada when government returned lakhs of applications without processing and after making people wait for 5-7 years. Managing and addressing client’s anguish during those times have been amongst most difficult phases,” he said.