International Talent Is Needed in Canada


Trump’s administration has made it more difficult to hire international talent, but it is not going to stop US companies from doing that. Nevertheless, they will just go a little bit beyond their borders and search for foreign high tech workers in Canada.

A recent Envoy Global survey reveals that there’s a high demand for international workers this year. Evidently, more than 400 US professional employers shared their experience in hiring international talent; most of them represent big and small US companies.

Over 70 percent of companies say that restrictions imposed by the Trump government, are not going to have a negative impact on their efforts to find foreign employees. Even more, they expect that their number should increase or stay the same in 2019. The data comes from Envoy, which provides assistance to US companies to monitor immigration regulations.

That coincides with the US government immigration data, which shows an increasing number of applicants for high-skilled tech visas, known as H-1Bs, regardless of more stringent policies towards immigration. In fact, those who receive an H-1B visa, are all supported by US companies that emphasize the need for a specialized workforce that often isn’t immediately available in the US.

As a result, Giant US tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Amazon, have all been raising their voices for quicker and more flexible high-skilled immigration policies.

For example, CompeteAmerica, a pro-immigration union of employers whose members include Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, expressed concern last autumn. According to the union, Trump’s immigration policies were not supportive for businesses and employers.

Apple and IBM CEOs also addressed a letter to Homeland Security in 2018. It said that a deficit of green cards for workers slows down the immigration process for tech employees. This happens when the US government announces changes in the immigration rules in the middle of the process.

In addition, some applicants even find themselves trapped in the immigration process that can last a decade, if not more. Unfortunately, their efforts didn’t succeed so far.

Recent immigration data suggests the US is issuing fewer total visas to these workers compared to previous years. To fulfill his commitment “Hire American”, Trump ordered the review of the H-1B process. Consequently, this very fact reduced the number of candidates for this type of visa. His pledge has also lead to unnecessary paperwork and additional costs, in the overall, complicating the hiring process.

Therefore, it becomes obvious that there aren’t enough skilled Americans, so US companies, have no other choice but attract international talent. This problem is attributed to a shortage of appropriate science, or STEM, education. As a matter of fact, the number of STEM job openings exceeds the number of unemployed STEM employees, as reported by the New American Economy. The figures reveal that 23 percent of all STEM workers in the US are immigrants. 

Canada Benefits From the US Loss

So what are US companies doing to get the tech they need? Well, going beyond their borders and Canada is their common choice.

In reality, sixty-three percent of businesses questioned for the Envoy study either are sending more workers to Canada or hiring international talent there, according to the Envoy survey. More than fifty percent of those did both. Another 65 percent of hiring employers said US employers avail more of Canada’s immigration than US regulations.

Among surveyed, 38 percent are considering their expansion to Canada, while 21 percent already have at least one office there.

Therefore, when choosing between the US or Canada, many foreign nationals prefer the latter. 

Azad Dhillon, a former electronic engineer from India who currently works in machine learning, last year got a job offer from two companies, one in New York and the other in Toronto. And he chose Toronto because it took him just two months to get his visa, while the H-1B process in the US would have required six months or more.

 “The decision arrived naturally as I didn’t want to waste too much time on getting the US visa. I am very satisfied with working in Canada”.

Canada has experienced similar high-tech worker shortages as the US, but it always encouraged high skilled newcomers. Moreover, the Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen announced last year that Canada would accept more immigrants each year by 40,000, for a total of 350,000 in 2021.

Its Global Skills Strategy program — Canada’s equivalent to the H-1B — fast-tracks the immigration process for high-skilled workers to just two weeks or less. In 2018, the program accepted more than 12,000 workers, selecting 95 percent of applicants. A quarter of those came from India and another quarter came from the US. Such policies have been favorable to Canadian tech companies.

Interestingly, if there were times when Canada was facing a brain drain, this time Canada is seeing a significant brain gain due to a large skilled worker influx in this country. Many big high-tech businesses report an increase in jobs. For example, MaRs tech-innovation companies reported a 100 percent job increase in 2017 compared to 2016.  

It is no surprise that Canada appeared on the 2018 CBRE’s tech talent list, with Toronto ranked No.4. The top three cities are San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC. However, Toronto created more jobs than those cities together.

In like manner, another Canadian city, Ottawa, showcased the fastest percentage increase in tech jobs than any city in the US or Canada.

The CBRE, a real estate firm, delivers this annual report to show that the location of tech talent says so much about the economy. That also includes the location of their offices and where they choose to allocate funds for innovation.

Canada than any other country in the world realizes the importance of immigrants. This is why it sees them as an indispensable part of talent and proved that they rather create than take away jobs.