Fawad Rehman can't wait to show his adoptive country his entrepreneurial streak.
Rehman, an immigrant from Pakistan, plans to start a business school, similar to the one his family runs back home, and a construction business.
A big obstacle stands in the way, though: He doesn't know which country will adopt him, the United States or Canada.
Rehman, 29, an information technology consultant who lives in Columbia, Md., is in this country on a temporary H-1B visa, the kind issued to skilled workers for up to six years. He wants to become a permanent resident.
But he isn't sure if or when that will happen. So, about a month ago, he applied to become a permanent resident in the province of Alberta, Canada, through a special program that fast-tracks applications from skilled immigrants in the United States. If he qualifies, he could be approved in less than a year.
Rehman's story is why I have mixed feelings about Richard Herman's proposal to uncap H-1B visas in the Rust Belt. Vivek Wadhwa contends that the most effective policy would be to speed up the Green Card process. If we can manage the needed immigration policy reform, then why not do for Ohio what Canada is doing for Alberta?
There might be good reason why such a program might not catch on in the United States. According to the US Government Accountability Office, the EB-5 is woefully under-utilized. I don't know if this program can keep pace with Alberta's aggressive quest for talent, but the H-1B limbo definitely outlines an opportunity for Rust Belt cities. The Industrial Heartland is far from do everything it can to compete and turn around the mega-regional economy.
Apparently, our loss is Alberta's gain.