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  • USA v/s Canada - An Immigrant's Experience

    By seenappa

    Dear CD’s,

    I have been a lurker from quite some time and had the opportunity to read the views of CD’s from both sides of the border. There seem to be no dearth of CD’s who are hoping to “fly the coop” once they get their passport. Perhaps, they believe that much better life awaits them south of Canada.
    As an ex-U.S.vasi and current Canadavasi, I hope to contribute my 1.17Cdn cents worth to the board. I lived in US for about 6 years before I moved to Canada 2 years ago.

    Most of the discussions seem to center on why Canada sucks and US is much better in terms of Jobs, quality of life and opportunities.

    This is true to a large extent mainly owing to the comparatively huge size of the USA population (roughly 300 million v/s 30 million in Canada). The cell-phone deals are much better (the concept of unlimited calling plans is totally alien in Canada), US auto insurance costs are chicken feed when compared to Canadian auto insurance, most of your US friends are in white collared jobs and the usual party topics revolve around stocks and company benefits and not resume sending tips. I could simply go on and on.

    Now why Canada is much better than USA.:

    1) Visa issues:
    Most of the Desi's in US live under the long shadow of H1 visa. Every aspect of your life is controlled by this one factor. Whether you get a job, where you get a job, where you live, whether to stay in USA or not, whether you can find a good wife etc. If you are unfortunate enough you’re H1 will be sponsored by a Desi firm, where you will have a chance to find out what “emotional blackmail” really means. Suppose, you are with a Non-Desi company and at some point you will HAVE to apply for green card (which by the way, is easier winning a “Super 7” than getting your Green card within 10 years). The company will hold you and yours dreams ransom for another good 8 years by which time your entrepreneurial ideals and dreams will dead and buried.

    2) Huge culture bridge:
    Make no mistake when I say that in US, there are times you will feel like a “black Fly in a bowl of white milk”. In US, you will be hard pressed to find even a single Desi/Asian in the above groups. Not ONE Indian police officer. Not ONE TV anchor and especially not a Desi politician. Mostly computer guys, doctors, taxi drivers and convenience store owners who create no cultural impact on an average American citizen. In Canada you have the best of the both worlds, the feel of a first world country like US and the feel of “old country” in terms of variety of food, social gatherings, temples, and a sense of strong attachment. In Canada Immigrants are integrated into all walks of life. You see immigrants, especially Desi as anchors on TV shows, police force, Politicians, immigration officers, politics, arts and culture etc etc.

    3) For our children:
    Many of us have left our motherlands looking for better future for our children. We all know at some point our children will assimilate fully into ways of the new culture. In US, your kids will have no idea growing up about your culture, your roots or any role models to look up to. I have come across some Desi kids in US who come across another Desi and are simply at loss on how to react. Not that it does not happen in Canada but at least here they attend multiracial schools and get to hear viewpoints of all ethnic groups and know that they can be a part of the political mainstream thanks to the 2 dozen Desi MP’s and ministers in corridors of power. Try looking at some of the class pictures of the Desi kids in US and you will spot that kid in a fraction of a second. This alone will be your number one reason to opt for Canada.

    4) America is a bad word in global politics:
    During my travels to India, I have spent most of time in parties and gatherings having to explain the “yearly invasions” of G.W.B’s itchy fingers and have been sick of defending US and its policies. I can’t remember, how many times arguments have broken over these issues. I have lost count of how many of my US friends have fallen into depression for having the visas of their parents refused especially when they are expecting a baby and in need of great moral and physical support. US refuses visas to these deserving visiting parents for no rhyme or reason. You will sense an atmosphere of arrogance and superior attitude. This attitude is widely seen especially when you travel, board flights, visit public monuments or buildings. You will realize in couple of seconds that you are the one all the officers are really looking at.

    Yes, On the whole US offers better materialistic possessions, well paying jobs, much higher quality of life but if you are somebody who wants to marry, start a family and settle down for good then Canada will be the place where your wandering mind comes back to every now and then.

    Love to hear from other expats from USA.

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