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As recently reported by CBC.ca – As technical engineers struggle to obtain entry to the United States for employment such obstacles may be benefiting Silicon Valley North, Vancouver’s tech sector.
Facebook expanded into downtown Vancouver in May 2013 as a base for new engineering hires. They join an influx of legacy, start-up digital and tech companies such as Electronic Arts, Hootsuite, Bench and Mobify, and global corporations Microsoft, Sony Pictures Imageworks and Amazon.
Jonathan Hitchcock, a South African technical engineer who found himself in Vancouver working for Facebook says – “One of the reasons (Facebook) does well in Silicon Valley is because all the other companies are in Silicon Valley. Apart from that, Silicon Valley is awful. It’s a terrible, terrible place. Vancouver is a wonderful, beautiful place, and all the companies are here. There’s a thriving tech community here.”
Facebook said the employment of up to 150 staff in Vancouver from around the world is only short-term, and points to the obstructive U.S. immigration system
“This same immigration issue plays an important role in many other companies’ decisions to open international offices. Canada’s approach to immigration enables companies like Facebook to set up small operations such as this, and we plan to do so in a way that has a positive impact in our temporary home.” says Facebook spokesperson.
Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney recently stated – “We’re seeking very deliberately to benefit from the dysfunctional American immigration system,” when asked about a year-old campaign that erected giant “Pivot to Canada” billboards in the San Francisco Bay-area advertising directly to foreign nationals blocked from obtaining H-1B visas.
Offering permanent residency, the Canadian government launched a special “start-up visa” last year to facilitate the arrival of young entrepreneurs, and will open another stream this January.
“The American obstacle is just one among a suite of competitive advantages helping transform Vancouver into a world-renowned tech hub”, said Ian McKay, CEO of the Vancouver Economic Commission.
British Columbia now boasts more than 600 digital media companies, employing about 16,000 people and generating $2.3 billion in annual sales, according to the commission.
“One of those arrows on its own probably doesn’t do a lot for us, but when you pile them on top of each other, it’s a pretty compelling story,” McKay said.
We will report more on this and other related immigration stories as the information becomes available.
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