Toronto is emerging as a tech superpower as immigrants choose Canada over the US

H1B Still 30

Many people in the tech industry are choosing to move to Canada over the US because of the US’ restrictive immigration laws.
Since 2013, Toronto has added more tech jobs than any other place in North America, including Silicon Valley.
25% of Canada’s overall workforce are immigrants, and in the tech space that number is even higher — 40%.
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Silicon Valley’s reputation as the world’s leading tech hub could be in jeopardy because of the United States’ restrictive immigration laws.

Tens of thousands of immigrant tech workers have flocked to Toronto in the past few years, making it the fastest growing tech hub in North America.

Many of them are deliberately avoiding the US as the Trump administration clamps down on immigration. In June, President Donald Trump temporarily suspended visas known as H-1B visas, which are awarded to thousands of skilled immigrant workers each year.

The visa suspension is prompting some immigrants, like former Silicon Valley product manager Asim Fayaz, to move north to Canada. 

“There is a whole world out there, and you are probably better off going somewhere else because you’d be treated more human,” said Fayaz, a Pakistani immigrant who now runs an online restaurant business in Toronto. “You don’t need to be, like, pleading for your existence all the time.”

Every year, the US government reserves 85,000 H-1B visas for skilled foreign professionals — people like Elon Musk, who was born in South Africa and started companies such as Tesla and SpaceX in the US.

Fayaz came to the US to attend the University of California, and landed a job after graduating with a master’s degree in 2016. As an immigrant, trying to find work in the US was tough — he needed an American employer to not just hire him, but also sponsor his H-1B work visa.

This year, immigration laws suddenly changed as Trump suspended the program, citing “an unusual threat to the employment of American workers” during the coronavirus pandemic. The move left thousands in limbo.

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But while the US is closing doors, Canada has been rolling out the welcome mat. Since 2013, the number of tech jobs in Toronto has skyrocketed from about 148,000 to 228,000, an increase of 54%.

“We have over 100,000 people immigrate to the Toronto region each year, which is twice as many as San Francisco Bay Area,” Jason Goldlist, cofounder of TechToronto, said. And we don’t just attract the quantity. It’s also quality because a fifth of these immigrants already have a STEM degree before they even arrive here.

Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify is trying to capitalize on the opportunity. Following Trump’s announcement, CEO Tobias Lutke — himself an immigrant from Germany — tweeted, “If this affects your plans consider coming to Canada instead.”

Sandeep Anand, the company’s senior mobility lead, echoed Lutke’s call for talent: “Whether they’re already in Canada, whether they’re globally present, we’re looking to really expand our diverse workforce. And in some cases it does mean that we would …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Tech

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