Canada should, perhaps, praise the H-1B.
Among others, the American work visa has brought this country the Bombay-born Sanjay Mavinkurve, a brilliant Google engineer who helped create the foundation for Facebook while studying at Harvard.
Mavinkurve, 28, of course, feels slightly different about the visa, whose number-letter combination is seared into the collective minds of foreign-born professionals who want to work south of the border.
It is the reason he finds himself in Toronto: The spousal accomplice to the H-1B, the dreaded H-4 or “dependent” visa, means if he wanted to stay and work in America, his adopted homeland, his brilliant, cheerful and pregnant wife Samvita Padukone, 27, would be chained at home, unable to work because of the latter visa’s restrictions on employment.
“The H-4 is out,” he says scoldingly, sitting next to Padukone on their couch in Toronto. “Because there’s no way that I would be comfortable — I mean, I don’t have the right, to tell my wife, ‘You have to sit at home and be barefoot and pregnant.’ No one has the right to tell anyone that, let alone someone who studied in Singapore on scholarship.”
Since the United States is currently only able to grant 65,000 H-1B visas per year, with additional spots for those who hold U.S. masters degrees, the process is extremely competitive and is clogged with applicants.
The couple chose Toronto over the company’s other offices in Waterloo and Montreal because they have extended family here and there are more opportunities for Padukone to work.
He is waiting on a U.S. green card, and would go back if he got ut, but admits the wait is a little bit of a lottery and that, in the mean time, they are growing roots here.
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