Canada Immigration Vs. US Immigration

Canada Immigration Vs. US Immigration: Which is better?

In a Newsweek article from the February 16, 2009 magazine, Fareed Zakaria sings the praises of the Canadian immigration system contrasting it with what he calls the United States “brain-dead immigration system.” He claims that the US “issue[s] a small number of work visas and green cards, turning away from our shores thousands of talented students who want to stay and work here.

Advantages of the Canada immigration system

Canada, by contrast, has no limit on the number of skilled migrants who can move to the country. They can apply on their own for a Canadian Skilled Worker Visa, which allows them to become perfectly legal “permanent residents” in Canada-no need for a sponsoring employer, or even a job. Visas are awarded based on education level, work experience, age and language abilities. If a prospective immigrant earns 67 points out of 100 total (holding a Ph.D. is worth 25 points, for instance), he or she can become a full-time, legal resident of Canada.”

Interesting take on things! Unfortunately, while it is true that applicants for Canadian permanent residence do not always require a “sponsoring employer” to qualify, the  Canadian system is more restrictive than Mr. Zakaria leads us to believe–especially given the recent changes to the Skilled Worker System in Canada.

Firstly, under the Skilled Worker system, in order to qualify, applications have to have an occupation found on a very short list of 38 High Demand Occupations. Further, in some cases applicants for Canadian Permanent Residence do require Canadian job offers to qualify. Canadian immigration is very technical in nature and if you do not fit nicely into the criteria set out in the Regulations, you are generally out of luck.

So it is not all roses when it comes Canadian immigration.

Advantages of US immigration

Moreover,  the US immigration system, for all its faults, has some advantages over its Canadian counterpart.  For instance, there are many more options available to enter the US as a foreign worker than there are for Canadian applicants. For instance, under US immigration law, there are O, B, H, TN, L, J, R and E Visas! The list goes on. Although these visas are of a temporary nature (they are work permits), many can lead to a Green Card or US Permanent Residence.  Further, the US immigration has features and benefits not found in the Canadian system such as the “Adjustment of Status” provisions or AOS.  AOS allows applicants to “adjust their status” from temporary status to permanent status without having to leave the US and wait outside the US for their permanent visas to be issued. The AOS provisions have been in place for years. And only recently, has Canada adopted similar procedures and only in very limited circumstances.


Overall, there are benefits and drawbacks to both the US and Canadian immigration systems. So be careful what you read. Even in Newsweek about Canada immigration vs. US immigration.

Any information provided here does not constitute legal advice and is intended for general information only. Should you require legal advise, you are encouraged to contact a lawyer directly. All blog postings are public and are not subject to solicitor/client confidentially. Case results depend on a variety of factors unique to each case, and case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any further case undertaken by the lawyer.

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About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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