Canada sucking brains out of Shiny-land

Piece on the BBC tonight, got me reading a bit farther. US legal immigrant tech workers, with H1B visas, have to wait years, maybe decades, to obtain permanent legal resident status. Nothing is being done to expedite that process, or expand the number of H1B visas available, no matter how much the US tech industry cries that it can’t find enough qualified people, because the xenophobic faction in Congress doesn’t want more foreigners in Shiny-land. (most of the H1B and permanent resident applicants are from India or Asia)

There has been a flow of immigrant tech workers that have given up on the US, and moved to Canada, for several years. Recently Canada offered expedited immigration processing for up to 10,000 current H1B holders in the US, to bring their skills to Canada instead. The 10,000 slots were filled in two days.

And, of course, the US educational system isn’t generating nearly enough US citizen graduates to fill the need.


I spent my career in the tech industry and worked with many, many tech workers on H1B visas from India and Asia. My experience shows that these folks can pretty much work from anywhere on projects that benefit US-based multi-national corporations and/or government entities. The migration of these tech workers may impact their contributions to the local economy, but I doubt that the actual brain power is benefiting Canada directly. Instead, they are just working on the same projects from another location.



I love the use of “poaches” in the headline. If US companies don’t like Canada’s offer to workers, make a better offer. Isn’t that the way free markets are supposed to work? :smirk:


But their wages are being paid in Canada instead of here.

Nothing new here. My closest colleague is Canadian. He immigrated from Poland in the 80s.

He always wanted to be a US citizen and still wants to retire in the US (against his wife’s wishes). He carries the up north passport because the Canadians offered him a simple path to residency and citizenship back then. The US told him more than 5 years and temporary work visas until a green card is issued.

I’m glad he still chooses to work with us. He’s a brilliant engineer and leader.

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The BBC piece included a Congresswoman from California, who noted that the tech sector in Toronto is growing faster than Silicon Valley.

Let’s put some numbers on that.

Wiki says the Frisco Bay area has 387,000 tech sector jobs, with 225,300 being in “Silicon Valley” proper.

Toronto has 289,000 tech sector workers, and has grown 40% in the last five years.

Some time ago, I looked at the bios of several tech sector movers and shakers. Many of them started elsewhere in the US, but did not realize their potential, until they moved to California. I am thinking there is a synergistic aspect of Silicon Valley, that groups the brightest, most creative, people together. With a few exceptions, Detroit became the center of the auto industry, because people could easily move from company to company within the industry. To this day, Nissan, Toyota, and Hyundai have engineering and testing facilities in metro Detroit, because this is where the best people in the sector are. With a few exceptions, the aircraft and movie industries blossomed in southern California.

What happens if people decide Toronto is the place to take their skills and creative energy, in the first place, and Toronto becomes the tech incubator, rather than California?



One of the articles I looked at, noted there were some 480,000 applications from US companies, for the 85,000/year H1B visas available.

Meanwhile, the US makes it harder to become a US citizen. The US military used to have a program where legal resident aliens could get on a fast track to citizenship by enlisting. Not anymore. DoD complains the background checks for people from certain countries are “too difficult”, so, after a year or so, they send a release letter to the enlistees, voiding their enlistment.

A few years ago, a US citizen, and resident of Michigan, enlisted in the Marines. After weeks of hazing, he either committed suicide, or was murdered, by falling down a stairwell. He was a Muslim.

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