While the U.S. gets stricter on employment immigration, entrepreneurs choose to set up shop in Canada instead.  

aerial photo of city during golden hour

Everyone always seems to be concerned about the health of the economy, and rightfully so. As a country, we would all like to see our economy do better, and one way to do that is by providing a welcoming environment for tech companies to grow.

Tech companies are a hotbed for innovation and development. They hire a lot of skilled workers, who in turn generate new business and create new jobs, both within and outside of the tech industry. In the tech sphere, the best way to find the right people for the job is by bringing in professionals from around the globe.

Fortunately for our neighbors to the north, tech companies are now finding Canadian immigration policies to be much better suited to their business needs. In the meantime, the United States is losing out on some of these opportunities.

The U.S. used to be the center for entrepreneurial activity back in the 90s, when 95%of start-ups around the globe began here. Now that number has been cut in half, with no expected increase in sight. So why are more tech companies choosing Canada over the U.S.?

Economists and executives in the tech industry are saying that tough stances on immigration and increased backlogs for skilled worker permits pose a challenge to the start-up industry in the United States. Businesses want clarity and efficiency on what the work authorization process looks like—two words that are rarely associated with the U.S. immigration system. In fact, processing times for some work permits have doubled since 2014, and denial rates for H-1B temporary work visas have increased by 18% since 2015.

Meanwhile, in the past few years, Canada has been in the process of revamping its immigration system, adding new programs that are designed to attract business and skilled professionals. In 2017, Canada implemented the Global Skills Strategy program that allows businesses with offices in Canada to get their skilled worker visa applications processed in just two weeks. These workers can soon after apply for permanent residency, and can usually become citizens in just three years. In contrast, obtaining permanent resident status alone can take more than 10 years in the U.S. The program also allows applicants’ spouses to obtain work permits, making a move to Canada more feasible for prospective employees.

In 2018, Canada began its Start-Up Visa Program, which allows immigrant entrepreneurs to live and work in the country, as long as they have secured enough funding to support their businesses. Here in the U.S., we have a similar system called the International Entrepreneur Rule, but the Department of Homeland Security is currently planning on removing the program due to concerns that it doesn’t adequately project American workers.

Even giant companies are diverting workers to Canada to take advantage of the country’s streamlined business immigration policies. For example, in addition to sending more and more foreign skilled workers to Canada, Amazon is planning on expanding its presence in Vancouver, creating 3,000 new jobs in its new downtown office alone. Creating tech jobs isn’t where potential economic growth stops, either. Researchers have found that for every new high-paying tech job, five more jobs are created as a result, which include positions outside the tech industry.

For America, what used to be a great place for entrepreneurs to get started is now full of delays and barriers to global business immigration. Canada’s policies are faster and more clear-cut, and its goal of increasing its immigrant population is expected to account for about a third of the increase in the nation’s GDP by 2021. All immigrants, not just skilled workers, are good for business, and the U.S. could stand to take a page out of Canada’s playbook as we look for new ways to facilitate economic growth.

 

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