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U.S. flag waving into the sunset.

Trump extends freeze on some work visas

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U.S. flag waving into the sunset.

U.S. President Donald Trump is extending a moratorium on temporary work visas for tech and other occupations.

With just weeks left in his presidency, Trump extended the previous immigration freeze until March 31, 2021. This means hundreds of thousands of foreigners workers will not be able to get visas to enter the U.S.

The proclamation affects workers in several sectors, such as tech workers, seasonal workers in tourism, and certain au pairs. Trump signed the proclamation, on the grounds that the admission of new workers posed “a risk of displacing and disadvantaging United States workers during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Before the moratorium was extended, it was opposed by business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Associations of Manufacturers, which filed lawsuits, NPR reports. They argued that the immigration freeze hurt the U.S. economic interests.

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President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn into office on January 20. At the time of writing, it appears the Democrats are poised to control the senate as well. A Senate majority will make it easier for the Biden administration to pass immigration reform since they will have control of three branches of government. However, it remains to be seen if immigration reforms will be a priority given the COVID-19 crisis.

H-1B holders have immigration pathways to Canada

The H-1B is one of the visas affected by Trump’s proclamation. These visas are typically for foreign nationals working in tech-sector occupations in the U.S.

Since before the Trump administration, H-1B holders have pivoted north to immigrate to Canada.

Canada has a number of pathways to permanent residence for tech workers.

The Global Talent Stream is one example of an expedited work permit that allows Canadian companies to bring in foreign tech talent to work in a matter of weeks. These workers are either hired by one of the designated high-growth companies, or have a job offer in an in-demand occupation.

Also, Canada’s most popular immigration pathway, the Express Entry system, is well-designed for tech workers.

Express Entry is an application management system for federal high skilled immigration programs, and for some Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs). Candidates submit their profiles into the Express Entry pool to be ranked on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). The highest scoring candidates get invited to apply for Canadian permanent residence through regular Express Entry draws.

Tech workers are well-positioned to get Canadian permanent residence through the Express Entry system. Typically, tech workers from the U.S. are well-educated, have skilled work experience, and a high level of English language proficiency. All of these factors are highly valued on the CRS.

Furthermore, there are a number of PNPs that specifically target candidates with tech experience, such as B.C.’s weekly Tech Pilot draws, and the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Tech Draws.

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