If you’ve started to look into your immigration options for 2021, you may have come across two very popular choices; Canada’s Express Entry system and America’s DV Lottery or the U.S. green card lottery, as it is more commonly known.
Both have given newcomers the opportunity to start anew in their respective countries, however, there are vast differences between the two, not only in the application process but in the likelihood of achieving success.
Every year millions of people around the world apply to migrate to a new country. According to the World Economic Forum, there are approximately 272 million immigrants worldwide, most of whom have chosen to emigrate to find jobs as well as due to other challenges faced in their home countries such as conflict, violence, and climate change.
What is the US Diversity Visa Lottery?
The Diversity Visa Program, aka “Green Card Lottery” or “DV Lottery” as it is more commonly known, permits up to 55,000 people from under-represented nations to apply for immigrant visas or green cards. The program was created in 1994 and the selection process is random, with about 10 to 12 million people entering globally every year.
What Are the Requirements for the Green Card Lottery?
There are two main requirements that need to be met to qualify for the US DV Lottery:
- Qualifying Country of Birth/Nationality; and
- Qualifying Level of Education
Nationalities Permitted to Apply
America is an extremely popular destination for immigrants and because there are so many applications received every year, the U.S. Government has decided to exclude applicants, who are from the following countries, from applying through the DV Program:
What Are the Benefits of America’s DV Lottery?
The main benefits are that if you register and win the lottery you will be given the chance to apply for your U.S. green card which, if successful in your application, will allow you to live and work permanently in the United States. There are also not many requirements to qualify for this immigration program. Whether or not you are successful will come down to two things: whether or not you were born in a qualifying country and sheer luck.
Another benefit is that your application is free. If you and your spouse qualify it is a good idea for both of you to apply as the other may be eligible to join you in America as a derivative spouse.
The Down Side
The lottery only takes place once a year. This means that if you miss the deadline you will have to wait an entire year before you can apply again. The 2021 registration deadline was between October 2, 2019, and November 5, 2019. This means that you will have to apply to immigrate to the U.S. way in advance. Applications to move to the States in 2021 have also closed, with registration dates falling between October 7, 2020, and November 10, 2020. Applicants will then have approximately six months to submit their confirmation information. Essentially, in order to apply to immigrate to America in 2023, you will have to submit your application later this year.
Spots are also limited. There are only 50,000 immigrant visas available each year which means that as soon as the lottery opens it’s best to get your application in as soon as possible. As most people tend to leave their applications to the last minute, the Government website usually experiences heavy traffic, which could result in you missing your chance to apply.
You are only able to submit your application in English via the online application website.
The wait is also quite long and just because you win the green card lottery it does not mean that you are guaranteed to get your U.S. green card. About 125,000 names are drawn and put on a waiting list. If 50,000 applicants who are ahead of you in the queue all submit their application forms with all the necessary supporting documents, you may not even get a chance to apply for permanent residency.
Now, before we move on to the Express Entry system, let’s take a quick break and take a look at some of the key similarities and differences between Canada and the States and answer that burning question you may have in the back of your mind, “Is Canada or America a better place to live.”
What is the Canada Express Entry System?
The Canadian Express Entry system hasn’t been around quite as long as its American counterpart. It was established in 2015, designed with the main aim of making the visa application process easier and more accessible to everyone. This program, however, is not a free-for-all. Instead, the Canadian government has opted to make it a points-based system, where your application will be rated based on the five main factors of the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS):
- Work Experience (if any); and
These factors are not only essential for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to determine whether or not you will be able to add significant value to the Canadian economy but whether or not you will be able to adjust to Canadian life. There are all too many stories where immigrants head to another country in search of greener pastures only to be met with additional challenges such as language barriers or not having the right qualifications or experience to find a job in their chosen field in their new hometown.
You can submit your Express Entry application through one of three programs:
- The Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP);
- The Federal Skilled Trade Program (FSTP); or
- The Canada Experience Class (CEC).
What Are the Requirements for the Canada Express Entry System?
As mentioned previously, you will need to meet the requirements of one of the three federal economic immigration programs to Get Express Entry to Canada. You will also need to make sure that you are admissible to Canada, which includes having a clear criminal record and bill of health, among others. You will also need to have enough money to cover yourself and any dependents traveling to Canada with you for the first few months while you settle in Canada. These requirements are put in place to make it easier for you to make a successful transition from your home country to your new home in Canada.
Nationalities Permitted to Apply
Canada’s Express Entry System is open to all nationalities worldwide 365 days a year. Unlike the Green Card Lottery, you can apply whenever you want to and your application will be valid for one year or until your Express Entry (EE) profile has been selected from the draw pool of candidates. These draws usually happen every 2 weeks, inviting roughly 5,000 applicants to apply for permanent residence in Canada. Recently, however, the Canadian Express Entry system reached record heights when it invited an incredible 27,332 people to apply to move to Canada!
Canada’s new immigration targets seek to invite 1.2 million newcomers to Canada by the year 2023, with a total of 401,000 people set to call Canada home by the end of 2021, 108,500 of which will be reserved for Express Entry applicants. That’s more than double that of America’s DV lottery system!
What Are the Benefits of the Canadian EE System?
As with the American green card lottery, if you are successful in your Canadian visa application, you will be able to live and work in Canada on a permanent basis. You are, however, not restricted to apply for your visa during a specific period of time nor will your application be rejected because of your nationality, as with the DV Lottery system.
Creating an Express Entry profile is also not only free too but processing times for your visa application can be as speedy as six months! This means that if you submit your create your Express Entry profile today and are selected in the next draw, you could be in Canada by year-end, provided you have completed and submitted all your forms and supporting documents within the timeframe given as per the EE guidelines provided.
Life in Canada vs Life in the US
Both Canada and the United States have plenty of similarities and differences. While the U.S. definitely has a stronger economy, you could potentially earn more or less the same in both countries. The current average salary in the States in 2019, according to Statistic.com, before the pandemic hit, was $66,778 USD in 2019. In Canada, however, the median salary averages at around $52,600 CAD per year, which now roughly equates to $41,652 USD. This will of course depend on the province you are working in as well as your profession.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the States can be significantly higher than in Canada depending on where you live as well as your lifestyle. Americans pay higher taxes. U.S. federal taxes range anywhere from 10 percent to 37 percent whereas in Canada you’ll be taxed around 15 to 33 percent. Consumer prices are also much higher in the U.S. For example in Toronto, consumer costs could be around 24.83 percent lower than in American metropolitan areas like New York City. You can expect to pay almost half the price for rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto, not to mention that food and travel are also much much cheaper.