This article became very popular among Beyond Grad readers so I have written an FAQ-style Part 2 - Why Indian Immigrants Should Move To Canada as well.
Over 80,685 Indians were awarded a Canadian Permanent Residence (PR) in 2019.
Among them, many were like us, moving from the US to Canada.
Michigan had been home to us for the last 10 years, and we would have loved to stay. But the US green card system is at an almost stand-still for Indian Immigrants.
From the latest estimates, it would take an Indian "advance degree holder or exceptional ability" person 55 years to get a green card.
55 YEARS! I will be 88 years old!
On the other hand, we got a Candian PR in less than 6 months after we qualified. A PR card is a Candian equivalent to the US green card in terms of rights.
In this post, I want to share the pros and cons of moving to Canada for an Indian immigrant in the US. I will also answer some FAQs.
So why should you move to Canada?
There are some obvious reasons that you may already know about. Like:
Increased security. Your presence in Canada is not contingent upon having a full-time job in the country.
Increased flexibility. You can work in any field of your choice irrespective of whether or not you have the exact training for it. You could start a business or have multiple sources of income.
Also, no more wondering:
- Will my H1B application get selected in the lottery?
- Will my H1B be renewed for three years?
- Oh! I can't travel because my H1B is in process, or I have to stamp my visa.
The visa duties can get irritating pretty soon.
Better benefits. Health care is universal (no cost). Depending on where you are in the US, the crime rate in Canada is lower. Gun regulations are much tighter. The citizens are more open to immigrants. Although I must say, we felt equally welcomed in the US too.
Some personal advantages might also resonate with you.
A dependent's career does not hang on their partner's visa or require further study. My wife was on a dependent visa in the US. Even though she has an MBA from a reputed business school, she couldn't work for many years. And when she could, it was tied to the visa I'm on and the mood of the decision-makers in Washington DC.
It is such a pathetic situation to be in. Sure she could do the MBA again, but why should it be that way? Also, doing an MBA again is not halwa (a piece of cake).
You get some semblance of a plan to immigrate. We couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel with the green card process. With Canada, we knew that we had a PR right away, and once we stay for approx 3 years, we can be Candian citizens.
Canadian citizenship will be a privilege:
- If you have children, they can get a world-class upbringing.
- Traveling in the world opens up significantly.
- It is an excellent reward for the years of hard work you did to build a life in North America.
The drawbacks of moving to Canada for an Indian immigrant in the US
Not all career opportunities are equal. The US pays like no other country in the world. A similar job in Canada will come with a pay-cut. The economy and the number of industries is also smaller than the US.
A work-around for that is to work for a company in the US while living in Canada. I share that with thousands of others. These opportunities are plenty if you are willing to move to a border city like Windsor ON and Vancouver BC.
Remote work opportunities might be higher after the Coronavirus pandemic as well, so there might be work-from-home jobs.
Higher taxes. The income tax and sales taxes are higher in Canada. So it will reduce your savings as compared to the US. If your spouse can now work or you create more sources of income, this problem can be negated.
Difficult to part with a home and routine. Many of us have deep roots in the US. It can be in the form of a house or a way of life. It is difficult to be rational and define it as a sunk cost. In reality, we all have resistance to change.
We were lucky to live on the US side of the border, and we moved to the Canadian side. It is as easy to go to our friend's place in the US as it was in the past.
Cold weather five months of the year. I don't think there is any need to elaborate.
Finally, there is a charm or halo-effect to saying, "I live in the US." I don't know how to explain this, but there is a certain attraction to being in the US. I don't know if it is the influence of the movies, music, or TV shows, but it took me some time to accept that I wasn't a US resident anymore.
I don't miss living in Michigan anymore.
I urge every Indian immigrant to analyze a move to Canada.
In social psychology, there is a theory called confirmation bias. The theory suggests that once we have made a decision, we will find reasons to confirm that it was a good decision.
So after acknowledging my confirmation bias, I still urge you to consider moving to Canada as an Indian immigrant in the US.
After candidly sharing the pros and cons with you, we consider this move to be one of the best decisions we have made.
Please enter a comment below if you have any questions or concerns that I did not cover.
How is your income taxed in Canada if you work in the US?
You pay US taxes first. Then you pay the difference in Canada. Let's take a simplistic example.
- Say your salary is $100,000.
- You will first pay the US federal and state taxes, say 33%, so $33,000.
- Then let's assume you are in the 40% tax rate in Canada. You will pay 40 minus 33, i.e., 7% of your income in Canada.
How is the physical presence calculated if you are driving to work daily to the US?
Right now, you need to be physically present for 1,095 days in Canada to be eligible for citizenship. You can count a day if you have spent even a single second of the day in Canada. So if you drive to the US and come back on the same day, that day will count towards your physical presence calculator.
How tricky is the immigration process for an Indian passport holder, with a Canadian PR, traveling to the US on a work visa?
From my experience, it is pretty smooth. You get interviewed while you are in your car at the checkpoint. Immigration officers ask anywhere between 1-3 questions. If you have a legitimate job in the US and a valid visa then it should be a breeze.