Canada grabs for America's foreign skilled workers

Ottawa is exploiting the messed-up H-1B program to lure employees with offers of speedy visas and lower taxes.

By Bruce Kennedy May 22, 2013 10:15AM

Canadian flag (© Royalty-Free/Corbis)The Canadian government is breaking with its national stereotype of politeness and taking a decidedly aggressive approach when it comes to luring foreign technology specialists in the U.S. who are having visa issues.

The ongoing congressional debate on U.S. immigration reform has exposed many problems with the country's H-1B visa program. This class of visa is issued each year to thousands of highly skilled foreign workers.

The problem is the current program is full of holes and complications. As MSN Money recently reported, fashion models have better chances of receiving a coveted H-1B visa than the qualified engineers and computer programmers companies like Google (GOOG), Intel (INTC) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) say they need working in America.

Enter Jason Kenney, Canada's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, who was in Silicon Valley last weekend in a bald attempt to poach some foreign talent.

"There are potentially tens of thousands of bright young people who are involved in the tech industry, many of them in startups, for whom the clock is ticking on their temp status in the United States," Kenney said in an interview with Canada's Financial Post before his trip.

"We just want to drive the point home that if you’re thinking of doing a startup in North America, why don't you come to Canada," he added. "You can do so permanently. Create the wealth there, create the jobs in Canada, bring your huge human capital to Canada, contribute to our economy."

The Canadian government even purchased billboard space on California's highway 101, which links San Francisco International Airport and Silicon Valley, urging U.S. foreign workers "to 'pivot to Canada,' where they can benefit from the new startup visa as well as 'low taxes,'" as the Financial Post reported.

The Canadian campaign isn't going unnoticed overseas. The SiliconIndia website says Canada is presenting itself as "an appealing alternative" to the "very limited availability of green cards and huge numbers of applicants who are often H-1B visa holders. Entrepreneurs who do not receive the green card on time often have no choice but to leave the US."

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May 22, 2013 11:39AM
Hey, maybe Canada can put the disenfranchised US STEM workers back to work.  Many of those discarded and disenfranchised US STEM workers had to train their foreign replacement in order to receive a severance package.

Seattle is full of ex-Microsoft workers who lost their job that was later backfilled with a worker from a low cost labor center, primarily India and Communist China, on an H-1B visa.

I am sure that many disenfranchised US STEM workers would be willing to move to Canada, and BTW, it was the US STEM worker that actually created this technology!

May 22, 2013 10:50AM
Nice. Why don't they "woo" all of our skilled labor and rebuild the America that had Quality, Integrity and no Bushes?
May 25, 2013 8:57PM
We legally take in 5000 unskilled Hispanics each week.  We throw out people who might cost employers money to hire.
There's a young doctor from Spain in Baltimore whose Visa runs out in July, who is doing ENT research.  There's a good chance America will throw him out rather than give him a Green Card.  But it will take in Juan from Guatemala who speaks no English, can barely read and write, and will paint buildings for minimum wage and no benefits.

May 26, 2013 7:52PM
Smart move, Canada, in taking advantage of the corrupt, short sighted policies of the Obama Administration. Obama wants to offer citizenship only to uneducated ILLEGALS and other foreigners who will vote for Democrats. With many Americans too lazy to get the education to land good jobs, Canada should soon surpass the US in high-tech industries and should be able to siphon off those Americans with education and ambition as well as many of our high-tech companies. Then the US could truly achieve the Obama goal of reducing the American population to the lowest common denominator.   
May 22, 2013 2:34PM
Why not! A good deal for Canada's industries and a good deal for the worker. 

Question: Why doesn't Canada build more petroleum refineries?

More revenue could be generated by building between the oil fields and the border where products could be readily exported to the US.
May 22, 2013 2:59PM
We should annex Canada. Except for the French speaking. Ship them COD back to France. Tired of Canadians living on the back of the U.S.A..
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