America's H-1B visa woes are good news for Canadian tech firms

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Dive Brief:

  • New H-1B visa program requirements that delay Silicon Valley tech firms from hiring foreign talent may be working in favor for Canadian firms that have a speedier hiring process, CNN Tech reports. This week, the Canadian government launched its Global Skills program to issue temporary resident visas and work permits within two weeks instead of the standard 12 months. 
  • Canada is also offering tax breaks, relaxed regulations and rebranding campaigns to attract tech talent. Brad Duguid, Ontario's Minister of Economic Development and Growth, told CNN Tech that this is an effort to recognize an opportunity to take the country in the right direction. 
  • In addition to making it easier for foreign tech workers to work and live in Canada, there has been a concerted effort to lure companies to Canada from the U.S. Many Canadian provinces offer tech firms the ability to develop new technology faster (like self-driving cars). Ford and GM already have plans to invest billions in new research and development operations in Ottawa.

Dive Insight:

Is it possible that Canada could eventually beat out the U.S. in the race for technology advancement in North America? Observers say Toronto is setting itself up to be the next big technology center. Google recently announced expansion into Montreal, and Microsoft has also been showing interest in this region

Talent gaps have plagued several industries in the U.S., and the tech sector is no stranger to shortages. Companies that rely on foreign workers to minimize that gap face regulatory pressures in the form of executive orders restricting the H-1B program. Government measures that enforce against the hiring of foreign employees may have a particularly disparate effect on IT.

U.S. technology firms would be wise to secure talent efficiently well in advance of any exodus to Canada. Female tech workers in particular are force to wait on the sidelines for career opportunities in a traditionally male dominated field.  At the same time, it may prudent to embrace partnerships with Canadian firms that can supply remote talent and other resources to help maintain a steady level of technological development.

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