Community

Reflection on 'Moving to Canada' decision

Hello!

A bit context - We are a family of 3 living in the US for almost a decade now. I am working as a Product Manager, and my wife works as a Project Manager in IT (apparently). Our kid is 2.5 years old and hasn’t started school yet.

We have received our COPR and planning to do soft landing in a month. I didn’t think of moving to Canada as a backup option when I started the process.

I’ve read numerous blogs and have watched countless hours of videos reflecting people’s experiences after moving to Canada. However, the majority of those blogs and videos reflect the experience of people who moved from India to Canada. I can’t entirely correlate to those experiences.

So, I’d be interested to hear from people who have moved from the USA to Canada about their experiences.

  1. What’s your take on the Job Market?
  2. What’s your take on lifestyle?
  3. How do you feel about giving up your H1B and moving to Canada?
  4. Do you plan to come back to the USA when the dates (priority) get current?
  5. What could you have done differently if you had a chance to go back in time before you moved to Canada?

tagging some of the folks who have been generous enough to share their experiences on other topics.
@mrandmrs @avj @vignesh.pr

4 Likes

My wife and I lived in the US for 15 years; F1, H1B, I140s etc before moving to Canada last year. We have been in Canada for over a year now. Based on my experience my answer to your questions are:

  1. I am a software engineer and the job market is great in Toronto. (can’t say how the covid situation may/not have effected it though)
  2. Better work life balance and lots of things to do outdoors. I like cold weather and so I find it very good here. Generally otherwise I feel the lifestyle is the same as the US. Yeah the health care is different. Also, I feel the quality of food is better here (dairy and poultry especially, may be its due to some regulations)
  3. Giving up H1B was the best thing that’s happened in my life. It’s very hard to put in words how being completely dependent on an employer can change your perspective on life; you put everything in your life as secondary to your employer and visa either consciously or unconsciously.
  4. No plans.
  5. If I could go back in time, I would have moved 2-3 years earlier and bought a house back then as property prices have sky rocketed.
8 Likes

thank for sharing!

@am1 , @pankajtrivedi

We completed our landing in Sept 2019 and received our PR cards.

I have same dilemma and we have contemplating a lot since last year.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts .

@akel - Anything you’d like to share based on the research or analysis you have done so far. Are you leaning towards keeping it as a backup option or making it the main choice?

A word of caution - You’re going to find the responses here heavily biased. :wink:

My two cents are this - as a married person I am able to breath a lot easier in Canada. My thoughts no longer revolve around immigration concerns - but on bigger things like finding a nice house to live in and raise a family, cultivate hobbies, or starting a business. The Tech industry is booming here (no comparison to the US of course - our Southern neighbors are definitely miles ahead) - but people still have amazing careers. It is what you make out of it.

If you plan on going back to the US, try something other route than the H1B. Lottery system, ridiculous processing times, long wait times for GC, added scrutiny and uncertainty require a lot of time and effort (and money). I would rather do something else with my time, which is actually productive.

3 Likes

Speaking for Ontario/GTA and in Computer Science field:

  1. Job market: really depends on your field, and number/quality of jobs available in Canada. Most jobs/businesses are heavily concentrated in GTA, therefore good chance of finding those here. The only way to find out is to start the application/interview process.

  2. Lifestyle: similar to the US, but a lot more relaxed. People here are in general more relaxed than in the US. As others have rightly put it, work-life balance is good here. Free healthcare is awesome, the govt/provinces generally takes care of its citizens. Esp, during times of crises like the current one, the govt has done (arguably) a good job of helping people, compared to the US.

  3. I never had H1 in the US, but after coming here I have not once been scared about visa issues ruining career or upending life. It’s the biggest relief; I can work for anyone, anywhere, take any amount of break I wish, start any business etc.

  4. If things are still great here in future, probably never. Maybe now and then for work related trips, but probably not permanently. FYI, priority dates may never become current, unless some serious, serious legislative change is forced under changing circumstances, which I doubt is going to happen in next 5-10 years.

  5. I would probably have moved to Canada 10 years earlier.

7 Likes

@pankajtrivedi- Looking at current scenario in US, I don’t think the GC wait makes any sense. The money, comfort (we assume) in US is very temporary and soon our age and other family responsibilities will be creeping on us.

  1. Regarding Job Market :- I have explored a little and feel that I can get a job. I am not from IT background but my wife is. I checked my job roles and there are quite a few openings in GTA area, but should not be impossible. My first priority is to talk to my manager/HR and see if I can work remotely from Canada. My company is mid-size pharmaceutical company (3 approved anti-cancer drugs) and we recently started office in Toronto. It will be a big ask from me to my company, and if they allow me to work remotely it will ease out my job search pain.

  2. Lifestyle:- I dont think there is lot of difference in lifestyle. I drove from US to Canada (PA to Brampton) and found infrastructure to be better in Canada. Overall products/ services are pricey in Canada, and again I think everyone finds some or other way to get cheap deals. Appliances, electronics, clothing/ apparel and all materialistic things in US are way cheaper here, but if you fall sick US will suck the remaining life out of you (even with good healthcare insurance on H1B, stress will be unbearable).

  3. How do I feel about giving up H1B :- My personal feeling is that H1B/O-1/ L-1A is not that big of deal if you have worked FTE with good employer. If we are never going to get greencards at right time how much does the H1B tag matter? Actually I feel motivated to give up H1B as soon as I can and start a fresh life. Even thinking conservatively (if someone is a big US fan and H1B fanatic), I feel that if you have I-140 approved and become Canadian citizen, you have many more opportunities in North America.

  4. Do you plan to come back to the USA when the dates (priority) get current? Not sure I don’t think it will be worth it. My PD is Oct 2012 and I don’t think it will be current in next 5 years. Even if it becomes current and my 485 gets approved I will be stuck in US for another 3-4 years till the actual GC (green printed card) gets in hand. The better option would be asking the employer to file for consular processing. But honestly I don’t think I would like to return if I find everything good in Canada.

  5. Going back in time I should have moved a lot earlier in Canada. Things definitely start losing value on H1B (with so many restrictions and Trump’s whimsical immigration plans, democrats did not help either and they won’t). I did not buy a house, could not move enough ahead in career. I could have traveled to India and many other places. With 1.5 year old kid I feel life is moving fast ahead and soon we will be out of our H1B depth.

My general two cents on the entire situation on H1B/ I-140 and express entry:- Get to Canada quickly and lets settle ourselves. We had enough on H1B, sure we had difficulties in getting to the position we are on H1/ I-140. But H1B is a recyclable visa, we will soon be replaced by hoards of new candidates (H1, L1, O1, all remaining alphabets) approved every new year. Even if we are good at our jobs, we never know if we get stuck at any immigration issue and we lose everything overnight. The fear of uncertainty is much higher than few extra dollars. Also with express entry dynamics changing I don’t think I might be able to get any PR in future. I am waiting for the day to move now (fingers crossed).

Let me know if my thinking is sane ?

8 Likes

@akel - Your feeling/experience is terrifyingly close to what I feel. When I read this message to my wife - she asked “Did you write this?”

I had to let go of management opportunity(es) because my transfer got denied. I want to (need to) buy a house - and hence the urgency to make a decision. I still need to complete my landing though.

Thank you for sharing!

2 Likes

I hear you :slight_smile: !

Yup I have three of my other friends waiting for landing. Let me know if you need any help, I will inbox you my contact number.

1 Like

that’ll be great. Thank you, @akel!

  1. If you plan to move for good, you need to have jobs lined up before you move. Current times are rather uncertain, not may employers are hiring and you really don’t want to end up unemployed for a prolonged period of time. That said both Toronto and Vancouver have thriving IT sector and in normal circumstances employment isn’t too hard to find (Having US experience helps for sure).
  2. Lifestyle is dependent on you entirely and the city that you choose to live in. Depending on where you are moving from the winters are typically harsher but the world doesn’t stop and people are always moving up and about.
  3. Mixed feelings, there is no place like America but no regrets on trading the uncertainty and worries for peace of mind.
  4. Not sure, no concrete plans on going back. Depending on where our lives are in 5 years time, may think about it.
  5. Absolutely nothing, moving to America changed my life and that of my family in a very positive way. I learnt a lot in my professional career, grew there. Made a little bit of money as well. It’s just that this is a different phase in our lives and at this point Canada is a better place for us to be.
8 Likes

Hello, @pankajtrivedi

We are in a similar boat. Family of three, wife has been in USA since 2011 and working since 2013. She’s in a great job and enjoys it completely. I’ve been in the US since 2013 and have been working since 2015. We applied for the PR in 2018 after the speculative cancellation of H4 surfaced. I was on H4 at that time and decided need to apply for a Canadian PR. Both wife and I have mulled over the thought of actually moving as it is a big feat, pretty much uprooting ourselves from a “stable” situation and moving to a whole new country. In around June 2019 we were thinking of not moving at all as I had received my non-profit H1B and we were settled with a new born. However the situation took for a worse turn with all the restrictions coming in towards the end of the year and early 2020 for H1Bs. The recent EO as you are aware of already.

Being an only child, I also plan on taking care of my parents as they get old and Canada provides me a path to do that with PR and citizenship allowing me to sponsor their PR at a later point of time. We realized that in the end stability and peace of mind is far great than money and are now pushing forward with our plans to move to Canada. We have till Nov, 2021 to move to Canada in order to show the 730 days in Canada before renewal. We are planning on moving towards the end of 2020 or early 2021 giving us enough buffer should we have to travel to India.

Now getting to your questions

  1. The job market is currently slow. I started applying to companies and following up with recruiters. One of the staffing company managers screened my profile and provided positive feedback in terms of being able to transfer skills. However, the common feedback was that COVID-19 has put strain on the hiring and thus the market is slow. My take would be to play the long game. Moving to a new country, I felt I should apply early and start networking. I will start my networking related roles in November and for now just apply and follow up with interviews. Recruiters have also provided some positive feedback in the event they do proceed forward allowing me to work remote. The general trend in the industry supports this.

  2. Lifestyle - I think there are two aspects to this question. Work Life balance and general lifestyle (nature, travel etc). From the people I have spoken to who are in my field stated that work life balance is great and in cases on the chilled out side. I am not sure how it is in IT field, but I am assuming it will either be at par with US or less. The other aspect i.e. nature and travel speaks for itself. Once the COVID-19 situation settles a bit I believe Canada has plenty to offer.

  3. Both my wife and I are fine giving up our H1Bs. We believe the PR has more to offer in terms of permanency which is what we want. There are folks that I know plan on returning back to USA after getting their citizenship. We think we will be staying in Canada and making it our home.

  4. Not sure, too early to tell. Wife’s priority date is in 2014, lots can happen between now and then. But I think we will stay in Canada. Priority date being current just means there is another wait to get the GC and then citizenship after that. i.e. after our priority date being current which would at the current pace take anywhere between 10 - 15 years and then another 10 years to get citizenship is too much to ask. Furthermore, we would be pretty much settled in Canada so restarting our lives might not be something we would be interested in.

  5. We would have applied sooner and moved sooner. I had 3 years of experience back in 2016 and if we had applied for our PR back then things would have been easier in terms of peace of mind. I guess now is not late either and we are looking forward to moving. We are currently getting our assets in order so that we can move should one of us get a job.

My apologies for the long delayed post. Just made it back from India to USA on Vande Bharat flight and been getting things in order here. Hopefully, the above sheds a light on our mindset.

12 Likes

Hi @vignesh.pr , we are in very similar situation and have until June 2022 for the 730 day requirement and were planning our move by next summer so my daughter can start her school in september . But you have explained every aspect so well and i concur with you a 100% as we are in a almost identical situation.
@akel you have summarized it really well in the end and this is exactly what i’ve been thinking for the past 2 years and your thinking is perfectly sane , hopefully we will be able to get there soon and make Canada our home. I only wish we have moved sooner.
"My general two cents on the entire situation on H1B/ I-140 and express entry:- Get to Canada quickly and lets settle ourselves. We had enough on H1B, sure we had difficulties in getting to the position we are on H1/ I-140. But H1B is a recyclable visa, we will soon be replaced by hoards of new candidates (H1, L1, O1, all remaining alphabets) approved every new year. Even if we are good at our jobs, we never know if we get stuck at any immigration issue and we lose everything overnight. The fear of uncertainty is much higher than few extra dollars. Also with express entry dynamics changing I don’t think I might be able to get any PR in future. I am waiting for the day to move now (fingers crossed).

Let me know if my thinking is sane ?"

1 Like

@vignesh.pr - Thank you for sharing your feedback. And, I am glad you were able to return back.

All of the comments are great and help us to make a decision.

1 Like

Very thoughtful! There is never a wrong time to do things that makes most sense :slight_smile: Good luck with your move!

1 Like

About me:
Lived in US for 13 years (F1, CPT, OPT, H1b).
Been in Canada for little less than a year

  1. What’s your take on the Job Market?

This seems to be quite specific to industry / vertical you are in. S/W jobs seem to be plenty. But applying to the low hanging fruits usually means super low ball offers. It’s easy to be mislead by the salaries you see on the listings and you may think the salaries are too low. If you can get remote US jobs, huge advantage. Bigger / established new tech companies (Slack, Square, Amazon, Google) pay top $ for top talent even in Canada.

  1. What’s your take on lifestyle?

Materialistically, it hasn’t changed much. Some things cost a lot more. Fuel and Insurance for your car is expensive.

eg: Honda Civic insurance in NJ was about 55 USD per month. Started off with 238 CAD per month in Ontario (because less US driving history, due to living in different states). After 6 months and COVID discount, it is now 140 CAD per month. And the liability component in the insurance is a significant percentage, because people in GTA drive like idiots (quite a lot of rich kids driving like it is Grand Theft Auto) and also because of insurance fraud (based on your home location).

Housing costs are super expensive (compared to a similar sized home in the US) or if you look at it the other way, for the same price, the homes are super tiny.

Otherwise, I think not having to worry about healthcare costs and immigration, takes off a huge load from your mind. People tend to be generally nicer (compared to US). Living in a Toronto / GTA means you have access to a wide variety of cuisines. Neighbourhoods seem to be more diverse.

There’s a lot to do in the city or even away from the city. Haven’t explored much thanks to COVID.

We love the healthcare because we tried this: Went to a nearby clinic which had 7-8 doctors listed. Asked which doctor has the most availability (or is available in that location most often). Signed up with that doc. We get same/next day appointments, and doctor is great. Yet to visit a specialist, so we are not sure how that experience will be. If you sign up with a doc who is hard to get hold off, then probably you wont like the Canadian healthcare experience in terms of how long it takes for you to get an appointment.

  1. How do you feel about giving up your H1B and moving to Canada?

We didn’t give up our H1B. We got rid of it. You can take a guess about how we feel about it now :slight_smile:. It’s been extremely liberating. Having lived as an Alien for almost 14 years, living as a PR reminded us how much we got used to having very limited freedom.

  1. Do you plan to come back to the USA when the dates (priority) get current?

No I-140 for either of us. Didn’t even bother starting the process, so no plans of going back to US. In any case, even if we had I-140, it’d mean moving back to US in the 50s, find an employer willing to go through the process, and hope the priority dates dont retrogress and then be shackled with some more rules (time in US to maintain GC) etc, then 5 years after that get citizenship. I saw no point of getting it at that age.

Instead, in 4-5 years after moving to Canada, we can get citizenship. Can work in the US on a TN visa if needed (and not pay FICA that we’d never use). Live anywhere, work when and where you want, Travel as much as you feel like. Whether we go through the process of citizenship or not is immaterial. Just the fact that theres no uncertainty in the process lets you figure out what you want to do next.

Here’s how I look at living in the US: It is great to kick start your career, build up savings, when you are under 30, single or not with kids, when you don’t have much to worry about health or dependents immigration status / work auth. Once in 30s or 40s, healthcare costs (for the employer’s POV) makes it easy to for companies to ignore older employees / applicants or those with anything more than a simple health issue. I have seen some well known independent developers in their late 30s / 40s, mostly worried about healthcare costs. This situation doesn’t exist in Canada, since employer doesn’t pay anything for the primary health insurance aspect. Similarly as a non-employee you dont have to worry about healthcare.

  1. What could you have done differently if you had a chance to go back in time before you moved to Canada?

Similar to what others have said: Should have applied for Canada PR and moved to Canada much much earlier.

If you have even the slightest itch to do something other than being employed (take a long break, try a few business ideas of your own, build a side hustle etc), it means you are losing opportunities and time, the longer you stay in the US. I could have easily moved to Canada 3 years earlier. That’s what I wish I had done. Instead, we wasted a lot of time trying to figure out all the possibilities of H1b, H4 EAD, F1 CPT, I-140, O-1 etc.

12 Likes

Thanks @ntn for such a detailed post !
The sense of freedom you get is unmatched.

@akel , I humbly want to point out that its not the sense of freedom that we get in Canada, rather the freedom itself that is unmatched. :grinning:

I am part joking and not trying to nitpick your comment😀

2 Likes