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White House policies driving tech talent to Canada

Friday, June 2, 2017

Canada has happily opened its doors to highly skilled immigrants turned away by the United States, according to Pierre Pettigrew, Canada’s former foreign minister and former trade minister, writing on

Pettigrew noted that talented immigrants often view the U.S. as having a “de facto closed door policy.” Many such individuals trained at or attended U.S. universities and, wishing to stay in North America, find Canada a more welcoming and less bureaucratic option than the United States.
With competition for global talent -- particularly in the science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEMM) areas – fiercer than ever, Canada has become more brazen in its attempts to attract top individuals. For example, the Citizenship and Immigration Ministry bought billboards in Silicon Valley that specifically targeted immigrants experiencing problems with their H-1B petitions.

Meanwhile, U.S. businesses have sought ways to circumvent the increasingly high immigration hurdles. Seattle-based Microsoft, for example, opened a software development center in Vancouver, a city located just over Washington state’s border with Canada. The stated purpose of the facility was to "recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S."

The difficulties presented by U.S. immigration policies, to both immigrants and the firms that wish to recruit them, is a sign that the United States is not willing fully embrace the globalized economy of the 21st century. Failure to do something about the barriers to working in this country will result in a continued dilution of the STEMM talent pool.

Meanwhile, Canada and other countries will continue to reap the benefits of more open-door policies, attracting the often-U.S.-trained talent that we shut out. At the same time, our own businesses are creating jobs outside the country in order to take advantage of skills offered by the global talent pool.
Meaningful changes to immigration policy will result in job creation and will keep the United States competitive in the global economy. 

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