Canada’s new Tech Talent Strategy program targeting H-1B visa holders in the United States reached its quota of 10,000 applicants in less than 48 hours, as the country seeks to take advantage of the United States lowering its acceptance rate and adding more stringent requirements to obtain H-1B visas. 

The program, which was announced by Canadian Immigration Minister Sean Fraser at the end of June, also included a specific section for H-1B visa holders interested in acquiring open work permits in Canada. The open work permit program allows H-1B visa holders to move to Canada without a job and look for work while in the country, potentially providing migrants a quicker path to becoming permanent residents.

“With the H-1B lottery getting worse and worse every year, for a lot of these individuals, Canada may actually be their only option,” former US diplomat Chris Richardson told the Wall Street Journal.

The program received an overwhelming response after the online application portal was opened on July 16, reaching the quota of 10,000 applications by July 17 and were now not accepting applications to the program.

Analysts have expressed surprise at the quick response for migrants applying to the open work permit program in Canada, and many of them believe that it may take months for the Canadian government to re-open the program while the country evaluates how many of the 10,000 people who submitted the application actually enter the country.

“I am sure that officials will open up to more applications in due course,” David Crawford, a partner at immigration law firm Fragomen, told Forbes. “They will have to sift through what they have, and I assume that some applications will be incomplete and/or ineligible. Once they learn the numbers and have a feel for how many will take up the opportunity, they can commit to the next steps.”

Many migrants have expressed hopefulness at the new open work permit program for Canada and with the new migrant-friendly policies of the Canadian government, with many students and workers in the United States upending their lives to move to a country where the policies are more manageable. 

“I was feeling so much frustration and anger, and when we realized we could start off with Canadian permanent residency, it was a no-brainer,” Ketaki Desai, who holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences, told the Wall Street Journal.

She was having difficulty acquiring a green card in the United States and had been waiting for her application to process since 2008. After 2020 led to more COVID-related delays, she decided to leave the country with her family for another job in Canada when her existing visa was about to expire. Within a few years, she and her family were able to become Canadian citizens. 

“If I were the US government, I would be very upset that Canada is basically siphoning off American workers,” Sergio Karas, an immigration lawyer based in Toronto, told the Wall Street Journal.

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