I lost my dream job in the US because I couldn’t get a work visa. In Canada, the pathway has been much smoother.

    Vaishali Gauba was given a work visa in Canada after moving there in 2022.

    Courtesy of Mayank Sharma; Getty Images; Jenny Chang-Rodriguez/BI

    Vaishali Gauba dreamed of being a journalist in the US but wasn’t able to secure an H-1B visa. Years later, Gauba secured a work visa in Canada after moving there to study. She said she likes Canada’s quality of life and found the visa process is friendlier to immigrants. 

    This as-told-to essay is based on a transcribed conversation with Vaishali Gauba, 29, about her experience navigating the US and Canadian immigration systems. Business Insider verified her visas. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

    I moved to the US when I was 17, with ambitions of being a journalist.

    I grew up in Gurugram, India, and moved to New Jersey in 2012 for my undergraduate degree. I studied journalism, media studies, and business management at Rutgers University.

    I worked with major US news outlets during and after college and wanted to keep working in America, but couldn’t secure an H-1B work visa. I returned to India feeling defeated. Five years later, I relocated to Canada.

    In Canada, I found a clearer path to securing a work permit, and I’m less worried about being uprooted by the immigration system.

    I interned at US media companies at university

    I came to the US on an F-1 visa, which is for full-time students.

    During my studies, I worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Targum, and also did news internships at CNBC, NBC, and CBS, which each lasted around four months.

    I remember having to get permission from international student services and the journalism department to do the internships, as there were restrictions around working off-campus for F-1 students. The work had to be related to my field of study.

    I remember feeling anxious about needing to get so many approvals to work as an international student, but thankfully, I was permitted to do the internships.

    Working at big-name publications felt like a milestone, but it was also difficult to balance the internships with two college majors.

    I wasn’t able to secure an H-1B visa to stay in the US

    I became accustomed to the reality that anything related to my professional life required a lot of paperwork. I knew that to continue working in the US, I needed to apply for optional practical training, which allows F-1 students to work for a year in a field related to their studies.

    I graduated in May 2016, and after my OPT was approved, I started on the CBS Page Program, a rotational program for graduates.

    I had several assignments there, including on the evening news and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. I talked with Stephen Colbert at the show’s rooftop parties and saw many celebrities on the job.

    But my time there was limited. The Page Program lasted a year, around the time my OPT expired. After six months on the program, I asked CBS about the possibility of sponsoring me for an H-1B visa but was told they don’t offer sponsorships.

    I didn’t realize this when I started working there, but I wanted the experience and to work on my OPT, so I would have done the program regardless.

    I applied to other jobs, but many applications included a question about whether I’d need a visa sponsorship now or in the future. I felt that this one question was already filtering me out as a candidate and I wasn’t getting called for interviews.

    I spoke with two lawyers about my options. They told me about the O-1 visa for people with “extraordinary” ability in certain fields. I tried gathering references for the application, but as time went on, I felt my chances were slim.

    This is partly because the lawyers shared case studies of people who received O-1 visas with me, and I felt they were more arts-orientated than journalism-orientated. I felt the lawyers weren’t confident I had a good chance, so I decided not to apply.

    Extended family members and lawyers suggested I continue my education to stay in the US on another F-1 visa. I eventually decided against this as I didn’t think I could learn anything about news from a school program I wasn’t already learning at CBS.

    I went back to India feeling defeated

    I started to feel lost. I remember lashing out at my dad on the phone when he suggested I come home, but in the end, I had a gut feeling that it was time to return to India, so I left the US in August 2017.

    It felt like a defeat. I knew I wanted to be a journalist in America, but I couldn’t do it. I’d given so much to the US in terms of time, energy, and money, and it was hard to accept that I had to give up on it because of visa stuff.

    I spent the next five years in India, working in journalism before pivoting into a brand and communications position. In 2021, I began freelancing in PR and marketing strategy.

    I planned on doing a master’s in digital media to boost my PR career. My boyfriend at the time, who’s my husband now, moved to Canada for his MBA in 2021, so I started exploring master’s options there.

    I’ve found the Canadian immigration system to be more immigrant-friendly

    I came to Canada on a study permit and started my master’s program at Toronto Metropolitan University in September 2022.

    I applied for a work visa in September 2023 after finishing my studies. While it took a long time to get my study permit because of the backlog created by COVID-19, the work visa process took less than a month and was fairly easy.

    Graduating from my master’s program made me eligible for an open work permit, which isn’t tied to a specific employer. I’m self-employed as a freelancer.

    Unlike the US H-1B process, I didn’t need an employer to sponsor me, and there was no lottery system.

    While I’m aware that some people have a hard time coming to Canada, my overall experience of Canadian immigration processes has been smooth. I feel it’s more favorable to immigrants than the US processes.

    I couldn’t get a work visa in the US, but there was a clearer and more stable path to getting one in Canada.

    When I left the US in 2017, Donald Trump had just become president. My understanding is that it’s become harder to get a work visa in the US since.

    My work visa expires in October 2024, and I’m open to options for settling in Canada beyond that. Moving back to India is still a small possibility as my partner, and I have family there, but I like the quality of life in Canada, and I’m less concerned about my life being uprooted here than I was in the US.

    Read the original article on Business Insider


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