The US Cities With The Most H-1B Visa Workers Are Not The Ones You’d Expect. Come To Canada Instead.

March 20, 2020

Every year the H-1B visa attracts some of the world’s most talented engineers, computer programmers, data scientists and other tech professionals to the US. While a majority of H-1B hopefuls are from India and China, there are in fact individuals vying for the coveted work visa from all over the world.

But while individuals from all over the world apply for and, if they’re lucky, get their H-1B visa approved, many end up clustered in US cities you wouldn’t expect.

Top H-1B cities in the US

According to a study by the Pew Research Center that ran H-1B data from 2010 to 2016, “College Station, Texas, stands far above the rest, with about 32 H-1B approvals per 100 workers. A separate analysis by using 2019 US Department of Labor data confirmed what the Pew Research Center was showing, noting that “College Station, Texas, is the main user of H-1B visa.”

Where are all these H-1B visas going in College Station, Texas? The Pew Research study noted that “ More than 99% of the [College Station] metro area’s H-1B approvals went to employees of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp., whose U.S. headquarters is in College Station.”

So according to Dice’s analysis, the top 10 H-1B cities in 2019 were:

  1. College Station, Texas
  2. Mountain View, California
  3. Rockville, Maryland
  4. Chicago, Illinois
  5. Edison, New Jersey
  6. Seattle, Washington
  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  8. Secaucus, New Jersey
  9. Santa Clara, California

A few cool cities, including Seattle, Chicago and Mountain View. But mostly this list is uninspiring. And while yes, in some instances a few large employers skew the H-1B numbers toward some of these uninspiring cities, like Cognizant in College Station, TX or Infosys in Secaucus, NJ, it still means that if all you want to do is get an H-1B visa and come work in the US for a tech company, there’s a decently high statistical probability that the way in will be through one of these large H-1B employers in one of these cities.

In other words, coming to the US and living in New York City, San Francisco or Miami and working a high-flying tech job just isn’t the reality for most H-1B visa holders.

But the story is different just a few hours north, in Canada.

Top Canadian tech hub cities

Ok, so Canada doesn’t have as many major metropolitan areas as the US. Indeed, Canada has just under 38 million people while the US just under 330 million – nearly ten times more.

But Canada’s tech hub cities are also the country’s most famous, full of culture, growth, beauty, and delicious food.

Here’s how real estate services giant CBRE’s 2019 Candian tech talent report ranked the top 10 Canadian tech cities:

  1. Toronto
  2. Ottawa
  3. Vancouver
  4. Waterloo region
  5. Montreal
  6. Calgary
  7. Victoria
  8. Quebec City
  9. Hamilton
  10. Edmonton

Just within the top five on this list you have Toronto, a metropolis that’s Canada’s financial center and one of the world’s most diverse cities with nearly 200 spoken languages, Vancouver, British Columbia’s capital and home to incredible mountains, amazing weather and recreational activity, and a massively growing tech sector spilling over from the American northwest, and Montreal, a beautiful French-speaking city that has the history, charm and culinary chops to rival most famous European destinations.

Since we’re talking about work visas, though, let’s get down to brass tax. Is it worth moving to these cities from a financial and quality-of-life point of view?

Absolutely. Toronto, for example, had the highest wage increases, 9% (tied with Boston), amongst major cities in both the US and Canadain 2019, according to Hired’s 2019 State of Salaries Report. The new average tech salary in Toronto? $100,000. This report was published in the middle of 2019.

Then in September of 2019, Vancouver came out on top as having the highest median salary, beating out both Toronto and Montreal. Its proximity to Seattle and San Francisco, those beautiful mountains and some of the highest-paying jobs in Canada? Sounds like a great deal.

And as for Montreal – while it doesn’t have the highest-paid tech workers in the country (though it’s still up there), Montreal has a few other things going for it. Forbes wrote back in 2017 that Montreal emerged as an “artificial intelligence powerhouse,” and just last year in 2019 a massive 90,000 square foot research facility dedicated to AI named “Mila” was unveiled. In other words, if you’re in tech and you want to work in the massively growing field of AI, Montreal is the place to be.

Convinced yet? If not, there are other perks to moving to Canada instead of the US.

It’s more than just a job, it’s a lifestyle

In addition to a higher probability of finding a great tech job in one of Canada’s top cities, there are also broader benefits of living in Canada that aren’t even city-specific but rather on the federal level. In fact, these are benefits you simply cannot get in the US, even if you get a job paying more than you can imagine, in the heart of San Francisco or New York City.

Here they are:

  • You become eligible for public health insurance once you become a permanent resident (PR). In the US, the best health insurance is tied to employment. In Canada, on the other hand, you can benefit from public health insurance and have the flexibility to move to another employer or part of the country if you’d like.
  • Citizenship eligibility in five years. Permanent residency after one year, and eligibility to apply for citizenship four years later. This timeline is unheard of in the US.

So there you have it. If you’re a foreign-born tech worker and you’ve always wanted a high-flying tech job in one of America’s coolest cities, statistically, you are more likely to end up in the middle of Texas or New Jersey than in Midtown Manhattan. And that’s if you get selected in the H-1B lottery at all.

Rather, come to Canada – where getting a work visa is much easier and the quality of life is, frankly, better.

Sound interesting? See if you might qualify for an express entry work visa by visiting Path 2 Canada and answering a few simple questions. If you qualify, we can help you ditch the H-1B rat race and find your dream tech job in Canada!