US immigration policy has employers eyeing Canada for job growth

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The city of Toronto. (BigStock Photo)

As the United States cracks down on employment-based immigration programs, Canada has been aggressively marketing itself as a friendly alternative for tech companies seeking international talent in the nation’s quest to become a more influential tech hub.

American tech companies are taking note.

(Envoy Graphic)

Some 65 percent of employers in a recent Harris Poll said they think Canada has more favorable immigration policies than the U.S. Envoy, a technology firm that helps employers with immigration services, enlisted Harris to survey more than 400 U.S. companies in a variety of industries. The responses show growing unease among American companies that rely on employment-based immigration programs to fill their tech talent shortages.

Canada on the rise: In 2017, Toronto added more tech jobs than Seattle, Silicon Valley, and Washington D.C. combined according to a CBRE report. The Candian city’s burgeoning tech scene is no coincidence. Canada has been touting its friendly immigration policy, announcing a plan to bring 350,000 foreign nationals into the country each year until 2021. Thirty-five percent of employers surveyed by Envoy said they are sending more employees to Canada and hiring more immigrants there and 38 percent of companies are considering expanding in Canada.

Meanwhile in the States: President Donald Trump has been steadily reining in the legal immigration system in the U.S. since announcing his “Buy American, Hire American” executive order. Recent changes to programs like the H-1B visa, which big tech companies rely heavily on, have some companies feeling skittish. Just 12 percent of survey respondents said their organization’s hiring and retention strategies were not impacted by the U.S. immigration system. The most commonly cited frustrations with the immigration process were uncertainty and inefficiency. But despite concerns over American immigration policy, 80 percent of employers expect their foreign national headcount to increase or stay the same in 2019.

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