Canadian Work Visa vs. H1B Visa: A Side-by-Side Comparison

work visa in Canada: two women wave Canadian flags in Toronto

Are you considering moving to Canada and working there? You’ll need a work visa in Canada, no matter where you come from. Unlike the H1B visa system in the United States, Canada doesn’t require you to have a job lined up in the country when you apply. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t strict eligibility rules.

Read on to compare the process of applying for a Canadian work visa vs. the H1B visa that many people use to work in the United States.

Requirements: Canadian work visa vs. H1B

One of the major differences between applying for a Canadian work visa and an H1B visa? You don’t need an employer’s help for the former.

To apply for an H1B visa, you must have a job offer from a U.S. employer that is sponsoring your application. The job should be related to your postgraduate degree or your field of expertise, and it should pay you at least the prevailing market wage.

On the other hand, applying for a Canadian work visa does not require a job offer from a Canadian employer. However, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family members (if any) while living in Canada.

You must also provide medical certificates and police certificates as part of your application.

Processing time

The processing time for a Canadian work visa application varies depending on your country of origin. For example, if you are from India, it can take approximately 6-8 months for your application to be processed. However, if you are from the United States or another country with good diplomatic relations with Canada, it can take as little as two weeks.

In contrast, the processing time for an H1B visa application can take several months. This is because the U.S. government has a limit on how many H1B visas it issues each year, and there is usually more demand than supply.

Fees and costs

Another factor to consider when comparing a Canadian work visa and an H1B visa is the cost. The application fee for a Canadian work permit is 155 CAD, which is approximately $117 in U.S. dollars, or 7300 Indian rupees (as of August 2021). In addition, you may be required to pay other fees related to your application, such as biometric fees.

In comparison, an H1B visa application fee can be much higher. The base filing fee is $460 USD, but you may also be required to pay an additional fee for premium processing or a fraud prevention and detection fee.

Language proficiency

One of the requirements for applying for a Canadian work visa is demonstrating language proficiency in English or French. You must take a language test such as IELTS and score the minimum required score. This requirement ensures that you can effectively communicate with your colleagues and clients in Canada.

However, this requirement does not exist for an H1B visa application. While holding a good command over English can increase the chances of getting a job quickly, there is no language proficiency test required before applying for an H1B visa.

Holiday and retirement benefits

When comparing a Canadian work visa vs. the H1B visa, it’s important to consider the benefits that come with each one. Employees working in Canada are entitled to vacation time, paid holidays, and sick leave under the Employment Standards Act. They are also eligible to receive retirement benefits like a pension plan, tax-free savings account (TFSA), or registered retirement savings plan (RRSP).

In contrast, employees working in the United States under an H1B visa do not have the same benefits. Employers are not required to provide vacation time or paid holidays, and there are limited benefits available for retirement savings.

The bottom line

Applying for a Canadian work visa and an H1B visa have different requirements, processing times, fees, and benefits. While a Canadian work visa does not require a job offer from a Canadian employer, it does require language proficiency and has specific eligibility criteria. On the other hand, an H1B visa has more stringent requirements, including a job offer from a U.S. employer and long processing times.

Whatever path you choose, make sure you understand the requirements before applying for a work permit or visa. Seek assistance from professionals if needed to ensure you secure your working rights and make the most of your employment opportunity.

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Further reading

How to Send Money from Canada Safely and Affordably

5 Smart Finance Tips if You Just Moved to Canada

The H1B Prevailing Wage Guide

Remitly’s Canada Money Transfer Guide