Canada tops for startup founders, US for international students

 The top-five most attractive OECD-member countries for highly qualified potential immigrants are New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Norway – the parameters for ranking ranged from quality of life to visa related issues.

United Kingdom (UK), ranked at seven, made it to the top ten in the ‘2023-Indicators of Talent Attractiveness’ list released on Thursday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). UK had not featured in the top ten in the previous 2019 ranking.

Abolition of the previous quota for highly skilled workers helped it climb the charts. When it comes to being an attractive destination for startup founders, Canada topped the list, whereas for international students, the United States (US) held sway. The OECD Indicators of Talent Attractiveness score seven dimensions: quality of opportunities; income and tax; future prospects; family environment; skills environment; inclusiveness; and quality of life. The indicators also take into account how difficult it is for prospective migrants with required skills to obtain a visa or residence permit. The ranking is based on default equal weights across dimensions and does not include the health system performance dimension, which is entirely optional for users of this tool. In fact, since not all dimensions carry the same importance for every individual, the tools allow the user a customised ranking.

Other countries ranked in the top ten have been penalised for unfavourable visa and admission policies. The United States (US) which was ranked eighth and Canada at tenth position, would have been ranked second and seven respectively if the visa policies dimension were not considered, states OECD. The US fell back by one notch in its ranking due to high refusal rates and the quota on highly skilled workers, whereas Canada’s ranking was dented from its previously held fifth rank owing to its relatively long visa processing times.

To illustrate, the demand for H-1B visas far exceeds the annual quota. The year 2022, saw 4.83 lakh e-registration submissions for H-1B visas by sponsoring employers as against an annual quota of 85,000. Even as various steps be it staffing or use of technology have been adopted by the Canadian government, the country faces a processing backlog of around 2 million cutting across categories including citizenship applications, those for permanent residency and temporary residence.

Canada ranked as the most attractive country for startup founders, with high scores in all dimensions and availability of a specific startup visa. The US ranked second owing to a very strong startup ecosystem environment, however OECD’s indicator points out that spouses of startup founders do not enjoy full access to the labour market and there is no direct path from startup to permanent residency. France, followed in the ranking as international founders are given a relatively long period to develop their business before a change in visa is required. The US, Germany and UK were the top countries for international students.

The OECD is an association of 38 member countries, such as European countries, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. As these are well developed economies, they attract a large share of immigrants – be it for work, studies or even asylum. Several immigrants take a step forward and become citizens of these countries.

India is an important source country for several OECD-member countries, with Indians having a significant presence in many of the top-ten countries such as the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Nearly 3.95 lakh Indians migrated to OECD countries during 2019, an increase in absolute numbers of around 53,000 over the previous year. Owing to the pandemic, this figure was down to 2.31 lakh in 2020, which is the latest available figure.

Start-up Conclave at NIIST from March 13

The CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) here is organising a ‘Start-up Conclave’ on March 13 on the sidelines of its flagship programme ‘One Week One Lab’ which is being held at NIIST from March 13 to March 17. The conclave will be attended by about 300 representatives from across the country. This is a great opportunity for start-ups to come together and deliberate on R&D support from research institutes and financial support from funding agencies, the NIIST has said. The registration link is For registration, contact 9995632522 (R.S. Praveen Raj, convener, Startup Conclave).

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