H1B visa holders are coming to Canada and Canada is getting desperate, with the number of people applying for H1Bs and their applications rising at a faster rate than the overall population.
As of April 4, the number was up more than 1,000 people, according to Immigration and Refugee Board statistics.
That’s up from the day before, when the number had been steady at about 200.
The rise has coincided with an increase in the number seeking temporary work, including in construction and in the hospitality industry.
With the number on H1BSs increasing, people are seeking more work to make ends meet.
That has left some Catholic charities struggling to keep up with demand, and they’re concerned about what’s happening in their community.
“I think that this is a big issue that we’re talking about in our dioceses right now, because we’re seeing the need for more and more people coming in,” said Kevin C. O’Brien, executive director of the Canadian Association of Catholic Charities.
“We’ve had a lot of people come in seeking jobs as H1bs.”
O’Brien said he is concerned about the number that have applied for work in Canada’s hospitality sector, where more than 70 per cent of applicants are from the diocese of Vancouver.
He’s heard from many Catholic charities across the country who have heard stories of families coming to them to get jobs, and some say they’ve seen a spike in H1b applications as a result.
The Catholic Charms of BC said it received an average of one new H1BA application per day since May, and it’s expecting another one this week.
“There are some concerns about the availability of skilled labour,” said the group’s president, Mary Ann Fossey.
“If you have a shortage of skilled workers, you can’t get them to come to the province to fill vacancies.”
Fossey said many people who come to Canada as H2B workers, are not able to secure work in their own country, and are instead sent to the hospitality sector.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been tracking the rise in H2Bs, and said it sees an increase of about 50 per cent in applications since June, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the H1-B program.
“The increase in applications has been significant and the demand is not just from the H2b visa holders, but from all categories,” said CEO David MacKay.
He said he expects the government will look at ways to help those who need it most.
“As we have seen over the last few years, the federal government has made it more difficult to sponsor those who are unable to work, and has been moving to increase the number available,” MacKay said.
“But as we’ve seen, it’s not just in the private sector, it appears to be occurring in the public sector.”
For now, the government is keeping its eyes on those who do have a job, and is planning to extend a program that helps refugees find work.
The government has already granted 1,100 H1s to refugees, with another 3,600 applications in the pipeline.
With files from CBC News’ Dan Gorman.