Deepak Gupta, a chemical engineer running the Applied Research and Innovation Centre at Centennial College in Toronto, is one of the 92,000 immigrants who moved to Canada from the United States between 2003 and 2012.
Gupta grew up near Bangalore, India, leaving to pursue his PhD at Washington University, St. Louis in 1998. Thereafter he worked for a few years as a professor and researcher at the University of South Florida, followed by a job at the window and door making company, Pella Corp in Murray, Kentucky.
While working in the US, Gupta had H1B visa, which is usually sponsored by a company or an academic institution. In 2007 Gupta met his future wife, a Canadian dentist, and subsequently moved to Canada.
Gupta easily acquired a Canadian visa since his wife was a Canadian citizen, and didn’t have to apply for a Canadian work-based visa, but he acknowledges that Canadian working visas have the advantage of letting the holder work for any employer they want to. In contrast, in the US Gupta’s H1B visa had a six-year limit, and limited him to work only for his employer. “I didn’t have any bargaining power with my employers because the visa is tied to the employer,” says Gupta.
Based on his own experience, Gupta ranks the Canadian immigration system higher than the US, though when it came to bringing his mother to Canada, the system proved much tougher for Gupta. He applied for his mother’s visa and submitted proof of income showing that he could take care of her. But after three years of waiting his application was rejected on the grounds that he had listed some of his US income in the application.
Gupta’s sister, a doctor in Northern California, had obtained US citizenship and was therefore able to bring her mother to the US as an immediate relative, with no other restrictions.
Even though Gupta ranks Canada higher for ease of immigration of professionals like himself, he still feels that there is more subtle discrimination in Canada, something which he did not feel in the US. Gupta remembers how in rural Kentucky, despite being the only Indian worker at his plant, “people were very nice and friendly.”
But Gupta is not happy with the US immigration laws. “I really hope the US can come together to look at people with legal immigration aspirations. The debate seems to be taken up by those entering the country illegally. But there are a lot of people waiting in the queue, well educated, whom industry wants, who are willing to stand and wait in line but they want to be processed quickly because they have families. Their views tend to be brushed under the carpet when you talk about millions of undocumented immigrants,” he says.
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