Canada has been having success in attracting more high-tech companies and employees from the United States. This trend began in 2008, when such companies in the U.S. could not obtain the number of H-1B visas they needed due to the limited number available. Microsoft opened a development office in Vancouver at that time.
Since then, the problem for companies has only grown. The Trump Administration has made the H-1B program more restrictive and companies have to deal with even more uncertainty about whether they will be able to “capture” an H-1B visa. In response to President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, even the cost of obtaining an H-1B visa is rising precipitously. This is due to the number of Requests for Evidence being issued (at close to 70% in the 4th quarter of FY 2017). In addition, denial rates are up and processing times, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), have almost doubled in the past four years. Even so, Silicon Valley and other areas of the U.S. (Texas, New York, and New Jersey) still draw high-tech companies and employees, but Canadian entrepreneurs are ready to take a bigger piece of that pie.
Such companies as Mob Squad in Canada are working on persuading some Silicon Valley companies to move workers to Canada. Mob Squad works as an intermediary to bring employees to Canada in four weeks’ time. It is less expensive to live in Canada than it is to live in San Francisco, therefore salaries can be lower. Applying for permanent residence is faster and less burdensome than it is in the U.S. For some foreign nationals, the last straw has been the Administration’s threat to eliminate H-4 EADs. For others, it is the long waits for H-1B adjudications that have left them without U.S. work authorization.
In the meantime, the Canadian government is working hand in glove to fast track high-tech workers. In 2017, the Trudeau government started the Global Talent Stream Program to grant work permits in a few weeks’ time. In the midst of the NAFTA debate, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought his “charm offensive” to the San Francisco Bay Area and offered “a two-week, fast track employment permit for certain workers, dubbed the ‘global skills strategy visa.’” He stated: “We know that bringing in great talent from around the world is an enormous benefit, not just to the companies that want to do that, but to Canadian jobs and to our country as a whole, so we’re going to continue to do that . . . . “ The results are clear. “Toronto’s tech scene is so hot the city created more jobs than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, D.C., combined last year, while leapfrogging New York in a ranking of ‘talent markets.’”