The Mercury News: “H-1B: U.S. employers say Canada’s immigration policies better, as tech booms north of border”

by Joseph McKeown


Canada’s more favorable immigration policies are attracting tech talent away from the US, according to a report by Envoy, which helps companies navigate the immigration and visa application process. In 2017 Toronto, North America’s fastest growing tech hub, added more tech jobs than the Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. combined, and Ottawa, the nation’s capital, has more than 1,700 tech companies. The report included a survey of 405 HR professionals and hiring managers and thirty-eight percent noted their companies were considering expansion to Canada, and a fifth of the respondents reported they already had one or more offices there. “Canada has been using friendly immigration policies as one of its key tools to aggressively attract tech companies,” the report said.

The Canadian government announced plans last year to bring 350,000 foreign nationals into the country annually by 2021, a figure that would amount to approximately 1% of its total population. “We thought we’d go to the Valley [Silicon Valley] but there’s no longevity there,” Vartika Manasvi, Founder & CEO of StackRaft, who set up her business in Calgary after time in the US, tells Quartz “People don’t want to risk long-term careers and live with uncertainty in the US. Finding another visa or transferring the H-1B can be stressful.” She adds: “The Canadian immigration system is gradually moving towards becoming more and more skill-based.” Pavan Dhillon, a San Francisco immigration lawyer who works on Canadian immigration, notes that “Green card backlogs and attacks on legal immigration” under the current Trump administration are some reasons why the Canadian Dream is replacing the American Dream.

Among the benefits of immigrating to Canada compared to the US are faster visa processing times and cheaper fees, a more predictable visa-allocation system than a US H-1B lottery, permanent residency in two years or citizenship in three (compared to often years-long wait in the US), and employment for visa holders’ spouses.  “I was a serial entrepreneur and I spent most of my career watching a brain drain from Canada,” Yung Wu, the CEO of MaRS Discovery District, a tech-innovation hub based in Toronto, tells recode. “This is the first time in my career I’ve seen a brain gain.”