Canada Work Permit — Opportunity or Option For Indians?

It took just 48 hours for Canada’s recently announced Open Work Permit Slot to reach its cap of 10,000 applications. Interestingly the slot that was filled in just two days, was given a period of one year.

This overwhelming, or as some say even a desperate response, showcases the sky-high demand among Indians on work visas in the US, to look for an alternate plan given the state of immigration for Indians in the US.

Canada’s open work permit scheme was launched with a view of increasing labor mobility between the US and Canada. Under the program if you hold an H-1B visa in the US, then you can be eligible to get a three-year open work permit to live and work in Canada.

The fact that the application window was filled to its maximum limit in such a short span of time shows the same alacrity with which the H-1B visa cap limit is reached in the US each year.

So, does this reflect that Indians on work visas in the US are desperate to get out of the long immigration rigmarole in the US or is Canada being seen as the new land of opportunities?

Sumit Singh, an IT professional working with a start up in the Bay Area says, “The program did generate a lot of buzz in the expat groups for a few days. Even though I have an H-1B visa, I have chosen to skip it for now as my family isn’t really looking to relocate for now. But my sense is that most of the people who applied used it as a plan B in case things do not work out in the US.”

While both the authorities and immigration watchers may have been stunned at the speed with which the cap limit was reached, there are others who were expecting the cap to fill out even sooner.

“I think it would have only taken 24 not 48 hours for the slots to get filled if the filing process was smoother and less confusing. Even if you had a month-long career gap you had to click as unemployed for that period. Many people thought it was a glitch and gave up in between.”

Many professionals on H-1B currently admit that they have filled the form just as a back-up option and currently have no plans to shift to Canada.

Shalini Shah says, “I admit that we have used it as an option if things don’t go the way we want them to. I see no wrong in it. If one wants to have a back-up option or a cushion, there can be no reason to chastise that person.

“I did see that there was some trolling in expat groups about people who owned up that they may be using it as a just-in-case scenario. This was totally unnecessary and uncalled for. Having an option given the current state of H-1B visa is only a wise thing to do.” (American Bazaar)

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