The H-1B “Brain Drain”-- It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid

Invited Blog:
Bloggings On The H-1B Visa
by Anthony F. Siliato and Scott R. Malyk

Editor's note: Here are the latest entries from Anthony F. Siliato and Scott R. Malyk's blog.

September 25, 2009

Further to one of our more recent posts, it isn’t just the economy driving the “brain drain” associated with the ever-increasing numbers of talented workers opting to leave the U.S. Rather, the unrealistic immigrant visa quotas for employment-based green cards are also to blame as a formidable obstacle contributing to this recent trend.

The much-anticipated October visa bulletin issued by the Department of State did little to give new hope to the long line of skilled workers waiting for available immigrant visa numbers. Indeed, with quotas backlogged more than 7 years in the skilled worker category, countless thousands of talented H-1B workers are not only captive to their existing employers (with the hope that they will remain employed by their employer by the time they are permitted to file the final step of the green card process and achieve employment portability, if they wish), but are also constrained from seeking or accepting any significant promotions for fear of having to restart the green card process all over again.

A maximum of 140,000 green cards are issued to employment-based visa holders each year, and that quota is then divided into categories for classes of workers and set a percentage for each country. As such, because there are presently higher volumes of skilled workers from immigrating from India and China, those individuals are required to wait even longer than foreign nationals from other countries. This rigid system is not based on skill, merit or industry need, but simply because we have an antiquated, per country quota.

It should come as no surprise then that potential and existing U.S. H-1B workers are pursuing other options abroad—which not only avail such workers of more rapid career advancement, but an opportunity to obtain permanent residence in a far more efficient manner than the U.S. process currently offers. One need not look farther than just north of our border for an accelerated system of obtaining permanent residence for skilled workers. For example, the Province of Alberta Canada has a program which allows U.S. H-1B workers to gain permanent residency in Canada under a fast track (12 month) program. The program does NOT require the H-1B holder to have a job, employer or sponsor. The H-1B worker can apply independently. Alberta’s fast track program only requires that the applicant be working and have a minimum of one year of work experience in the United States pursuant to one of the temporary skilled worker visa categories (H-1B, H1-B1, H-1C, E-3) and that the applicant’s occupation be included in the “Regional Operations Under Pressure List” For Alberta.

So, while “It’s The Economy, Stupid” has been (and continues to be) a popular refrain since the Clinton administration, perhaps we need to ask why the United States continues to perpetuate a closed-minded, isolationist approach to immigration quotas that achieves nothing but drive out some of our hardest working, most talented foreign national workers – many of whom might otherwise help the U.S. return to a healthy and vibrant global economy.

Post Authored By: Anthony F. Siliato, Esq. and Scott R. Malyk, Esq. of Meyner and Landis LLP

Canadian universities focus sights on international students

By Joanne Laucius and Mike Barber, Ottawa Citizen and Canwest News Service

OTTAWA — Across Canada, universities are under pressure to grow, but with stagnating or dwindling numbers of high school graduates at home, schools are increasingly looking overseas.
The selling point is Canada's cost competitiveness compared to similar institutions in the United States, Britain and Australia.
For instance, in Ottawa one out of every 10 Carleton University undergraduates settling into the new school year is from outside of Canada. For graduate students, the ratio is closer to one in five.
And, if the university meets its strategic target, within five years, 13 per cent of all undergraduates will be international students.
Mourad Soliman, 19, who was accepted at universities in Kuwait and Egypt, decided on Carleton after he met a recruiter at a universities fair in Kuwait.
Now in his second year of communications engineering, Soliman considers his decision a good investment.
"When you see a chance like this, you seize the chance right away," he said. "It might be a bit expensive, but it will provide a better life."
In 2008, 95,414 foreign students were enrolled in Canadian universities, nearly double the amount from a decade before, according to statistics from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Of those students, the bulk settled in Canada's major urban centres — one in five in both Toronto and Vancouver, about 12 per cent in Montreal, and another three per cent in each of Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary.
Between 1992 and 2007, the number of degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded to Canadian students increased 186 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.
In that same period, the number granted to international students increased by 343 per cent, the agency said.
China is the largest exporter of students, but Hong Kong, India, Vietnam and Malaysia are also considered strong markets, as are countries in the Middle East.
Pari Johnston, director of international relations with the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, said foreign students are attracted to studying here for a number of reasons.
"Our tuition fees are certainly very competitive if not lower than those in the United Kingdom and the United States," she said. "In general, it's a secure, safe environment, across cities and rural communities, to study in."
In some case, universities are even establishing campuses overseas.
According to a recent report from the London-based Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, there are now 162 international branch campuses around the world, a 43-per-cent increase in three years.
The United Arab Emirates alone is host to 40 branch campuses.
Carleton has offered MBAs in Tehran and Shanghai for a decade. Just a few weeks ago, the University of Waterloo opened a campus in Dubai to 22 engineering students.
The University of Ottawa is negotiating a similar agreement with a university in Egypt. Meanwhile, it is also building links to high schools and post-secondary institutions in China, Africa and the Middle East.
But increasingly, international students argue they are being used as cash cows to fund Canada's universities.
While fee increases for domestic students are regulated, international fees are not.
At Carleton, international students bring in $15,000 to $17,000 a year in tuition, more than twice what their domestic counterparts pay.
"Lots of people have parents who are working their tails off to pay," said Kimalee Phillip, president of Carleton's Graduate Students' Association and a native of Grenada. Phillip said she is carrying about $45,000 in debt.
Mark Langer, president of the 15,000-member Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, has concerns about foreign students and how offshore campuses are funded.
"Where is startup money coming from? Is it coming out of operating costs in the hopes that they will be very profitable? These are speculative ventures," said Langer, a film professor at Carleton University. "This isn't a public service. This is an investment. It has to produce cash results for the university."

The Governments of Canada and Ontario Partner with the Regional Municipality of Niagara to Help Newcomers

THOROLD, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 23, 2009) - Immigrants in the Regional Municipality of Niagara will have improved access to services to help them successfully integrate into their communities as a result of a new Local Immigration Partnership initiative.The announcement was made by Rick Dykstra, Parliamentary Secretary to Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, Niagara Falls MPP Kim Craitor and Niagara Regional Chairman Peter Partington.Niagara Region will receive $146,397 in federal funding for the initiative, which includes the establishment of a local partnership council. This council will develop a settlement strategy to identify delivery models, initiatives and projects tailored to assist newcomers. It will be comprised of municipal representatives, employers, school boards and settlement and social service agencies. The Niagara Region has welcomed approximately 11,000 newcomers over the past 10 years."This initiative will enhance the community's ability to help newcomers integrate," said Parliamentary Secretary Dykstra. "Improving access to services that make the integration process easier will benefit not only newcomers, but communities across Ontario."The funding is being provided through the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement, a partnership between Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Almost $3 million will be allocated to municipalities and service provider organizations across Ontario to establish the partnerships."Newcomers are important to Ontario's economic and social prosperity," said local MPP Kim Craitor. "Helping newcomers succeed in the Niagara community is a good investment for all Ontarians.""As more immigrants choose to make Niagara their home, our partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada in meeting the needs of newcomers has never been more valuable," said Chairman Partington. "The significant investment of federal funding through the Canada-Ontario Immigration Agreement will provide new and improved opportunities for new Niagarans, further strengthening the fabric of our communities."Settlement services are an essential part of the Government of Canada's immigration program. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has substantially increased funding to support settlement programs and services. An additional $1.4 billion is being invested over a five-year period in all provinces and territories outside Quebec, which has responsibility for settlement services through the Canada-Quebec Accord. Increasing the uptake of immigrant settlement programs was identified as a government priority in the 2008 Speech from the Throne.Citizenship and Immigration Canada funds a number of programs that help newcomers settle, adapt and integrate into Canadian society. These programs are delivered in partnership with provinces, territories, service-providing organizations and other stakeholders.For more information, please visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website at or the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration's website at

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