US Immigration vs Canadian Immigration – Is there a difference?
Wondering what’s different about US immigration vs Canadian immigration? Perhaps you have a choice of which country you’d like as your final destination. Both countries have cultures rooted in European Christian civilization. Both countries have English as a dominant language. So there is this basis in common. But the current philosophy and your interaction as an immigrant, with the government, is very different.
There are many differences in the policies of the USA and Canada regarding immigration. Immigration isn’t a topic that garners a lot of headlines in Canada, but in the USA immigration is a very controversial topic at the heart of every election and campaign. Frankly, Americans are really suspicious of immigrants. They resent immigrants, and especially the flow of migrants (“illegal aliens”) from Mexico and central America. Canada doesn’t have nearly the flow of undocumented migrants, since you have to get through the USA to get up here, and everyone thinks the USA is the land of milk and honey. (They don’t realize just how third world life is for the poor and working class in the USA. This is truly Soviet-style dogma at play, where Americans think only they are “free”. When I lived in the USA, I spent about 30% of my monthly income on just emergency health care insurance for my family of four. That didn’t even include preventive care, just emergency care!)
Apart from this, Canadian immigration policies are designed to favor Canada, and this plays a big role in explaining why Canadians are more tolerant of immigrants than Americans. Canada accepts more immigrants per capita than any other country in North and South America.
Permanent residence in the USA is called the green card. It’s pretty different from permanent residence in Canada. The green card holder in the USA only has permission to enter and leave the country, and they have to carry their green cards all the time, ready to flash to police if required. In Canada, this is not required, and permanent residents have “the right” to travel out of the country and “re-enter”. It’s a totally different mindset.
In the USA, immigration is totally centralized under the jurisdiction of the federal government. In Canada, provinces and the federal government share control over immigration, and each province has special programs that target criteria it finds particularly desirable.
Canada offers primarily economic and skills-based immigration programs so Canada collects a really high skill set and financial profile among its newcomers. It’s about 2/3 of Canadian permanent residents that arrive through these high-skills or financial requirement programs. But in the USA, only 16% of new US residents (green card holders) can boast of similar qualifications. In the USA, most of the new green card holders are family-sponsored. In Canada, only 25% are family sponsored.
While in the USA, there is the green card lottery, which attracts an incredible number of applicants because there are no skill or financial requirements, in Canada you have the Express Entry programs which shorten the time to permanent residence, but requires even more skills or financial caliber.
In Canada, the student visa provides a path to permanent residence. First of all, students can stay after graduation. In the USA, graduates have to leave the country soon after they finish school. In Canada graduates can get work permits for up to 3 years. Even if you have just a 12 month education program, you can get a 12 month work permit. This work permit provides a path to the Experience Class immigration programs.