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The Canadian Option and Problem of H-1B Layoffs
by Catherine Kerr

Out of work or soon to be out of work H-1B visa holders are facing a critical dilemma and some hard decisions. Not only are these individuals concerned about their immediate loss of income, they must also consider how to stay in legal status in the US while finding another qualifying position.

Since the INS apparently cannot agree on how long an out of work H-1B can remain in the US and still maintain legal status, many experts have concluded that the most prudent course of action for individuals in this situation is to leave the country altogether. But this end can be as easily accomplished by going to Canada as it can by going to India, China, Russia etc.

In the past I have written articles which describe Canadian immigration as an attractive alternative to US immigration because of Canada's multi-cultural diversity and high quality of life. With H-1Bs experiencing layoffs in increasing numbers, short of returning home, a Canadian job or even Canadian immigration may be the only option for those facing loss of status in the US

IT Workers

Canada has a special program to fast track applications for certain software professionals. Therefore some individuals with specific IT skills should be able to quickly find a position which qualifies for a Canadian employment authorization.

To determine eligibility as a designated software worker, an individual must possess one of seven listed skill sets, two years in the IT industry as a programmer, be fluent in English and have a written offer of temporary employment from a bona fide Canadian employer. The skill set descriptions are available at the "Canadian Immigration" pages of my web site found at

Qualified individuals may then contact Canadian employers in order to obtain a job offer in his or her particular field of expertise. An on-line search of available and eligible positions in Canada can be conducted quickly. Five of the largest job boards for IT workers can be found at the following sites:;;;; and

Job seekers may have to advise a potential employer who is not familiar with the software worker's program that they are eligible for a Canadian employment authorization and that this type of employment authorization can be issued quickly.

Other Professionals

Other H-1B professionals such as accountants, marketing consultants etc. may also be able to obtain an employment authorization to work in Canada but at this time, there is no special program like the software workers program for workers with such qualifications.

Nonetheless, other professionals whose skills are in demand in Canada may be able to convince a Canadian employer to apply for a foreign worker validation. Other H-1B professionals may wish to consult a qualified Canadian attorney listed on the ILW.COM site.

An Immigration Insurance Policy

H-1Bs who are not out of work at the moment but who want greater certainty in order to plan their future may want to apply for a Canadian Immigrant visa to avoid the worry that they might become unemployed in the near future and be obliged to leave the US.

Most H-1Bs, not just certain software workers, have the necessary professional and educational credentials to qualify for Canadian immigration. In order to determine eligibility for Canadian immigration, individuals should contact one of the qualified Canadian attorneys listed on the ILW.COM site, most of whom will provide a complimentary evaluation of your credentials. If you are eligible for an immigrant visa, current processing times for an immigrant visa ranges from eight to fifteen months.

Although most holders of H-1B visas have made the US their country of choice, others have decided that their country of choice must be a place where they can set down roots without fear of displacement. A liberal immigration policy makes Canada just such a place.

About The Author

Kerr & Associates specializes in US, Canadian, German and other European immigration matters. Kerr & Associates represents businesses and individuals.

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