Immigration Policy: US vs. UK

By Kenneth Tran

To a large number of observers, the now financial center of the universe is London, not New York City (see this and this. [1] I’m sure many of you will find it ridiculous but well, whatever you believe doesn’t change the deteriorating reality. Let’s see why what is what from an immigration view point [1.5]. Historically, America was famous as the Disneyland for talents. It doesn’t seem to be the case nowadays.

US. H1B Program.

Suppose that you’re an international citizen. You will need to apply for an H1B visa in order to work in the US. It’s a complex program but generally speaking, here are some relevant facts to keep in mind:

ï‚· You need a job offer and the sponsorship from an American company/institution in order to apply for the visa. Even if you’re a semi-superman but living in another country (or your country) at the time you apply for jobs, it isn’t that easy to get such an offer.
ï‚· Let’s keep assuming that you’re a semi-superman. You still may have to enter the H1B lottery game to decide your fate. The lottery is very likely if you don’t hold an advanced degree (Master or PhD).

How many talents would be crossed out by this system? A lot, I assume. Moreover, this complicated and hilarious process does discourage many smarties and a good percentage of them just don’t give a damn working in the US.

UK. Points-based Immigration System.

The UK has a fundamentally different program called Highly Skilled Migrant Program (HSMP) [2], besides the usual work permit system. Basically, you earn points by your track record including education level, age (the younger the better), income, UK experience, etc.. If you have enough points (75), you are automatically qualified to enter and work/do business in the country. No a priori job offer needed. No sponsorship. No quota and no lottery.

Source for more


[1] The NYTimes and Fortune magazine articles were published in 10/2006 and 08/2007 (respectively), when the US economy was much stronger than it is now. There are also numerous other writings on this newly debated subject.

[1.5] The rising or London (or decline of NYC) and their immigration policies are correlated. However, this article doesn’t assert with confidence that one is the cause of the other. On the cause, some joked that the British merely benefits from the influx of Russian millionaires/billionaires.

[2] The HSMP is being phased out and replaced by a similar program called Points-based Immigration System – Tier 1.

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • This is my first reply.

    Take the case of my son, who is studying now to get his Ph.D.. While looking for a graduate school, he went to a renowned university in the States and he realized all the so-called well-funded, important and interesting projects were military. So basically the funding was coming from the US Federal Government and not from industry. It was not for him. He ended up going to a European university and he has a chance of working for the ESA (European Space Agency). And nobody will get killed as a result of his research.


  • I can still remember an elderly relative of mine, who immigrated to the US from Europe as a teenager and lived there the rest of her life. All she could talk about was gratitude and how everyone should be grateful for living in the States. How the Europeans should be grateful for being liberated by the Americans. Twice!

    She looked down upon her Canadian relations as poor cousins. One day her son was so fed up with hearing about gratitude that he told her the Blacks should be grateful because they got free passage to the States while she had to pay.

    Then there was the time when they were arguing and she told him that “America, love it or leave it.” So he packed his bags and joined us in Canada.

    If she were still alive today, she would be an ideal McCain voter.


  • for a number of years. Fort Bragg, a very large military base is also located there. Over the years, I struck up a relationship with one of the more permanent residents who lived there year ’round. Nice lady, but several times had to bite my tongue when she brought up topics like guns, the military, religion and politics.

    The only way to stay friends with her was refusing to participate in those topics. I just let her ramble–in one of my ears and out the other.

    We offered to leave the camp when Americans were slashing trucker’s tires after it was obvious Canada wasn’t going to send troops to Iraq. However, the owner, a former North Carolina state trooper, said we had ever right to be there and the rest of the campers could go to **ll and to please let him know if anyone bothered us.

    The lady who was my friend moved last year and there isn’t much possibility I’ll ever see her again. Pity because we enjoyed each other’s company and laughed at lot when together. She gradually over the years took the hint and very, very seldom brought up topics she knew I didn’t want to discuss with her. We continue to have an excellent relationship with the present owner and he’s been to Canada and stayed on our boat. He too is fascinated with guns and things military, but knows enough to keep his mouth shut about delicate subjects when he’s around us. Great guy and we enjoy going there. We normally leave Boxing Day and this year are hoping to stay for an extended period provided the weather is accommodating.

    There just are some topics it isn’t advisable for Canadians to speak to Americans about! 🙂

    That’s not a particularly unique experience–there usually are cultural differences in people that need respecting. It doesn’t take a mental giant to realize when one is venturing into another person’s forbidden territory.

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