Divyansh Guglani, a Delhi resident, has been attempting to leave the country. When it came to migration, most Indians planned to travel to the United States until a few years ago. This is no longer the case. Guglani, for example, prefers Canada to the United States. “I picked Canada because of the large Indian population there. Because of the big Indian population settled in Canada, it will allow me to have a taste of home in addition to a better standard of living,” he added. Guglani has filed for immigration to Canada under the express entry programme and anticipates receiving his documents in a few months.

He had no intention of migrating to the United States. Long waits for green cards and decades of living in fear of losing temporary work permits have been significant deterrents. “Besides, Canada is a welfare state, with easy access to healthcare and education for permanent residents,” he said.

Gulgani and thousands like him are hoping to migrate to Canada soon, according to the Canadian government's recent appeal to aspiring immigrants. Indians were the most common ‘country of origin' for express entry and other types of skilled immigration visas in Canada in 2019. Furthermore, despite global travel limitations caused by the pandemic, the Canadian government has set a goal of admitting a record 4,01,000 immigrants to the nation this year. This has opened up new opportunities for a huge number of Indians who want to leave the country, and many of them are applying to immigrate to Canada.

In fact, despite the fact that borders remain mostly closed, the government continues to emphasize immigration as a significant policy component. According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Canada is also dedicated to improving the efficiency of migration processing structures and processes. While the Canadian government's aggressive aim for new immigrants is motivated by the low number of qualified immigrants who may be able to join the nation by 2020, it has come as a boon to talented Indians searching for work abroad.

“Over the last few years, the number of Indians enquiring about US difficulties has increased. While the US has always attracted interest due to its sheer size and potential career opportunities, the challenges of entry and the apparent impossibility of obtaining a green card have clearly been a deterrent,” says Ken Nickel-Lane, an immigration and global mobility professional based in Alberta, Canada.

“When you include in the general uncertainty surrounding immigration policy during the previous Trump administration, Canada becomes a lot more appealing. While the Biden administration provides much-needed optimism to individuals thinking migrating to the United States, the truth is that broad immigration reform may be delayed by the opposition Republicans,” he added.

Joy Roy (name changed on request) is an IT expert located in Maryland, United States. His company has applied for a green card on his behalf, and he has been waiting for a temporary H1B work permit for the past ten years. However, there is no indication of when his green card application will be approved. For almost a decade, my wife, son, and I have lived in fear, and we now want to go to Canada. I've filed for permanent residency under the express entry programme and am hopeful that it will be accepted soon; I won't be earning as much as I am now in the United States, but my family and I will have a more secure and established existence,' he added.

“Over the past few years, we have seen a noticeable increase in enquiries from people in the United States interested in moving to Canada,” Nickel-Lane continued. These aren't only from individuals waiting for green cards or having trouble renewing H1-B visas; they're also from US residents who aren't optimistic that the situation in the US will change significantly in the near future.”

Thousands of Indians are faced with the problem of waiting indefinitely for temporary H1B and L1 work visas in the United States, with the temptation of US dollar salaries and strong demand for professionals with expertise in IT, finance, and healthcare.

“Several Indian professionals continue to live and work in the US on extended work permits despite the uncertainties because of the availability of well-paid positions matching their skills,” says Ajay Sharma, a Delhi-based immigration expert. However, many people seeking to remove the uncertainty are increasingly applying for permanent residency in Canada.” “This has created increased attention over the previous several years,” he continued.

Sharma cautions, however, that under the Canadian Immigration Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS), it may be difficult for certain Indians who have been waiting for a green card in the United States for several years. “For permanent residence visas under Canada's express entry programme, there are age and other restrictions (See Box), and it is generally difficult for competent Indian professionals who have worked in the US for many years to qualify,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Indians who had hoped to migrate out of the country are upbeat. Ferdinand Furtado, a telecom industry specialist from Mumbai, and his wife, Marita Furtado, are awaiting final clearance for their Canadian express entry application under the provincial nominee programme for Alberta. “We looked at coming to Canada primarily because, under the express entry system, gaining permanent residence permission is simple and quick,” explains Furtado. “We expected it to be cleaned in six to eight months, but because to the pandemic, it has taken over a year. However, we are awaiting final permissions and want to relocate to Alberta as newcomers as soon as possible.”

Due to the lengthy wait, the couple did not consider the United States as an option while planning their preparations. For them and many others like them, the Canadian dream has become far more accessible than the American dream.

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