America’s latest Executive Order on immigration will reduce its supply of global talent for 2020 and beyond.
Demand to move to the U.S. as a permanent resident or temporary foreign worker is always strong. However, demand always exceeds the tiny number of spots that the U.S. makes available to skilled workers.
The latest U.S. visa suspension will create further challenges.
Lack of certainty for companies and global talent
The first major challenge is that the U.S. will create even more pent-up demand and backlogs that will slow its immigration processing to a crawl beyond 2020. Immigration and foreign worker programs in the U.S., Canada, and every other country exist to support the public policy goals of each nation. However, it is difficult to achieve public policy goals when your immigration system is too slow to respond to your country’s evolving economic and social context.
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Another major challenge is it can be difficult to achieve your immigration system’s public policy goals when you create too much uncertainty for employers and skilled workers. People want to know that their applications will be processed within a transparent amount of time. Unpredictability tends to scare employers and skilled workers into considering other options. Multinational corporations and skilled workers will likely look to immigration options in Canada and other countries because they no longer have much certainty about how the U.S. will process applications beginning next year.
Potential U.S. citizens of tomorrow, such as international students, will prefer destinations such as Canada, since they know what to expect, and can rest assured that Canada will not change its immigration rules after they arrive in a manner that will punish them.
Harm to America’s post-coronavirus economic recovery
Arguments are being made in U.S. business and economic circles that reducing immigration will hurt America’s economic recovery. Welcoming skilled workers helps to support economic activity in the U.S. in various ways but lower permanent and temporary visa arrivals in 2020 and beyond may prove counter-productive to the Executive Order’s goal to support American workers.
Uncertainty will continue even if Joe Biden wins election
The U.S. is likely to continue to have immigration uncertainty even if Joe Biden becomes the next president. Biden is calling for immigration reforms including expanding employment-based visas. However, his ability to implement reform will not be as simple as writing new Executive Orders. It will largely depend on whether the Democratic Party can also assume a majority in the Senate (they currently hold a majority in the House of Representatives).
Moreover, at this time, it appears the focus of the next Congress will be on getting the U.S. out of a recession. Immigration will be key to this goal, but it might not prove to be an early priority of a potential Biden administration. In other words, the challenges created by the recent suspension will linger during the early part of a Biden presidency, and carry over for longer than that unless Biden is able to pass significant immigration reform that gives employers and skilled workers the certainty they need to trust America’s immigration system.
Will America’s loss be Canada’s gain?
The U.S. will always remain a highly attractive destination to global talent.
It has the world’s largest economy, best universities, and countless opportunities for those that want to go into business, technology, health, research, and every sector and occupation in between.
The U.S. will also remain a talent magnet to global talent due to its soft power.
Thanks to Hollywood movies, as well as other forms of U.S. entertainment such as music and sports, we have all been heavily influenced by the U.S. and have dreamt of visiting the country and even moving there.
History has taught us to never count out America; they overcame the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Great Depression, Two World Wars, 9/11, and other major setbacks.
But its constant missteps on immigration will end up crushing the hopes of countless individuals who wish to pursue the American dream and this will represent a loss to the U.S. economy.
Canada remains committed to welcoming high levels of immigration, foreign workers, and international students. Prior to the pandemic, it was welcoming over 1 million new permanent and temporary residents each year, and was eyeing further increases across its immigration categories.
America’s loss may prove to be Canada’s gain.
Kareem El-Assal is the Director of Policy & Digital Strategy at CanadaVisa.
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