We should look to Canada as a model for our immigration policy

Here’s what they do, and what we’d need to do to compete. Much more than us, Canada looks for economic migrants and uses the Internet to make its system transparent and easy to access. You can quickly determine your eligibility by getting on to the Government of Canada website and seeing how you score on its points system. You’ll be asked questions about your age, language ability, education and skills sets. The answers will be verified by qualified private headhunters retained by the Canadian government, people who can distinguish between a bogus engineering degree from abroad and the real thing.

Even then, that won’t get you admitted to Canada without a job offer. One of the big immigration issues here is whether a green card applicant will be taking away a job from a native-born American. Right now we do this by asking the Labor Department to certify that there are no Americans qualified for the job, and the “labor cert” process can take as long as two years. The wait imposes risks and hardships, and Canadians get around this by posting the labor market impact assessment on the Web. When an immigrant sees whether he qualifies under the points system, he can also see whether he has a realistic possibility of a job, given the country’s reported labor shortages. At the same time, the Canadians also seem to do a better job than we do in protecting native-born workers.

Some qualified Canada entrants will have a job all lined up, and for them the process can move quickly. For other potential immigrants, it’s a waiting game. They can’t be admitted without a job offer, and so they’ll wait to see whether a Canadian employer who looks on the government website wants to pick them up. If no employer does so within a year, they’ll be dropped from the queue.