The tech industry in the United States has long been a magnet for the best minds from around the world. But as expected, that’s all changing since Donald Trump became the leader of the free world. This, in turn, has had an unexpected to impact on the tech industry north of the border.
Starting on the 3rd of April, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they will be “temporarily” suspending the premium processing of H-1B visas. What this means is that what once took 15 days to process can now take up to six months.
So this complicates things as companies will have to wait for a long time to obtain a visa for a to fill a temporary tech job. As a result, this is going to have huge repercussions in Silicon Valley and beyond.
Negative Impact on the U.S., Positive Impact on Canada
Although IT is one of the main sectors depending on foreign workers, they are far from the only ones. In fact, it will also impact several other industries as although Trump claimed that this process was taking away jobs from Americans, it actually caters to graduate-level workers in specialized fields like IT, engineering, mathematics, and medicine.
In Silicon Valley, Facebook will probably be impacted the most as 15% of its employees last year were on a temporary work visa (which was a much higher rate than Alphabet, Apple, and Amazon). So there’s going to be a serious problem when it comes to finding the right skill sets to fill important positions. But this also means that the best and the brightest from around the world can now be easily brought to Canada.
But this has also created an unexpected situation where U.S. coders are showing a serious interest in migrating to Canada. What’s even better is that the federal government in Ottawa is encouraging it.
So when it’s easier for foreign skilled workers to come into the country, the net effect has a real potential to brain drain Silicon Valley and boost the tech scene in places like Canada’s third largest city and startup hub, Vancouver.
The timing is just perfect for the Canadian tech sector as they are facing a skills shortage that is estimated to leave 180,000 tech jobs unfilled by 2020. However, the most significant thing here’s isn’t Trump or his archaic policies, rather it’s Canada’s government making it easier to recruit from overseas.
The new rules had the opposite effect from what’s happening in America as visa processing times will be cut down from five to six months to as little as 14 days. So these new policies will make it much easier for Canadian tech companies to get temporary workers in and out of the country as needed. Further, it will also make it easier for colleagues overseas to attend training programs and conferences.
All Eyes are on Canada
Long before the election, the ad-tech firm Sortable from Waterloo, Ontario was taking advantage of fears surrounding Trump to appeal to Canadian expatriates to return to Canada. But immediately following the election, their career site jumped from four or five hits a week to 200 per day with some applications mentioning the political climate down south.
But it’s not just Sortable, other companies have also seen a surge in interest. Some of these companies are as follows:
- Figure 1 (social networking for medical professionals)
- Influitive (marketing tech)
- Thalmic Labs (wearables)
Starting in 2017, this could essentially mean the golden age of technology in Vancouver. So whether it’s Canadians overseas, US citizens, or other nationalities, Canadian tech is going to be spoiled for choice.
The dynamic is also quickly changing for students from abroad as they look for alternatives to the U.K. and the U.S. Canada is fast becoming the go-to country for some of the best students from around the world.
If things keep going the way they are with Trump’s administration, you can only expect things to get better for Canada. This means that not only will Canada attract the best talent from the Muslim world, but also the brightest minds from South America and the LGBT community.
On top of all this, the overall economic outlook is also positive. So even though it’s still early days, everyone is now quite eager to see how this all plays out. Who knows, the next Google or Facebook could come out of cities like Toronto or Vancouver (and that’s not wishful thinking).
As the United States of America stays divided and continues to go through an uncertain period, it’s now the Canadian tech sector’s turn to thrive and grab all the headlines.