Today, more than ever before, global tech talent is flocking to Canada to start and build their tech careers. Why, might you ask? Isn’t Silicon Valley, the proverbial tech “mecca” just south of the Canadian border in California?
Well, yes – Silicon Valley is still there. But in many ways, it’s actually more out of reach than ever before. Not only for foreign tech talent, but even for US tech talent. We’ve put together the top four reasons we believe you should build your tech career in Canada instead of the US.
1. Easy to get a tech-based work visa.
The typical route for a foreign tech professional coming to the US has always been to via the popular H-1B visa. The H-1B visa is a temporary work visa for high-skilled individuals who have at least a bachelor’s degree, or its equivalent, in a particular field of study. While H-1Bs can be used for doctors, lawyers, architects, financial analysts and others, IT workers, from software engineers to data scientists, are the majority of H-1B visa holders.
In the past, getting an H-1B visa was relatively easy. You would accept a job offer at a US-based tech company, the company would apply for a work visa from the government, and if you met the basic requirements, the H-1B visa would be approved.
Since 2017, however, it’s been an entirely different story.
H-1B visa applications are being challenged more than ever, including elongated wait times, increased requests for evidence (RFEs) and outright denials. Individuals who were ultimately granted an H-1B visa have had to wait months, in some cases having to go back to their home countries in the meantime. Even those already in the US on H-1B visas simply filing for an extension were being challenged and, in some cases, denied and forced to leave.
In other words, it’s become harder than ever to come to the US as a skilled foreign worker.
On the flip side, it’s never been easier to come work in Canada. Partly in response to the hard H-1B policies in the US and partly out of a broader governmental policy to attract more top global talent, the Canadian government launched a program in 2017 called the Global Skills Strategy with an aim to encourage foreign investment in, incentivize companies to open offices in and attract top talent to Canada.
Within the Global Skills Strategy, there’s a particular process called the Global Talent Stream (GTS), through which a Canadian employer can apply to have a high-skilled employee, particularly in the tech sector, get work authorization in a matter of weeks. No headaches, no long wait times, no labyrinthine process or excessive paperwork.
Ok so great, it’s incredibly easy to come to Canada as a tech worker, but that still means you need to find a job. Are there IT jobs in Canada?
Actually there are, and lots of them.
2. Booming tech ecosystem.
In 2018, CBRE, a US-based real estate services and investment firm, ranked Toronto as the number three top tech talent market in North America, only behind San Francisco and Seattle. Toronto beat out New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major US cities.
So what does this mean?
First and foremost it means there are lots of tech jobs. According to the same report by CBRE, Canada has been experiencing a “brain gain.” The report states that between 2013 and 2018, 80,100 tech jobs created in Toronto, Ontario while only 22,466 tech degrees were conferred, meaning there was a brain gain of 57,634 tech professionals. This was the number one largest talent gain in North America, beating out San Francisco and Seattle.
Among “brain gain” cities, Vancouver, British Columbia gained over conferred 11,140 degrees but filled 22,300 tech jobs over that same period, with a gain of 11,160 tech professionals.
This sounds great, but who exactly is hiring these tech professionals?
Only some of the biggest and most innovative companies in the world.
From Canada-based companies like Shopify, a multinational e-commerce platform that went public in 2015 and generated over $1 billion in 2018, to Clio, a law practice management tech company that raised a $250 million series D round (the largest ever investment in a Canadian company), there are massive, home-grown tech opportunities.
But you also have the likes of Amazon, which opened a new 113,000 square foot office in downtown Toronto in 2018, Uber, which opened a new technology hub in Toronto in 2019, and other US-based giants like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others constantly adding jobs in Canada, from Vancouver to Montreal.
So it’s clear that there are tech jobs in Canada at some of the world’s biggest companies. But what’s it like when you finally make the move?
Turns out, pretty damn good.
3. Montreal is an artificial intelligence hotspot
In early 2017, Forbes named Montreal a “An Artificial Intelligence Powerhouse.” The article interviewed Yoshua Bengio, professor, co-author of one of the leading artificial intelligence (AI) books and founder of Element AI, who said that he believes Montreal is an AI powerhouse, “due to the combination of great universities, great companies (including a number of Silicon Valley companies who have established offices in Montreal), and Canada’s ethos of cooperation among elite minds.”
Bengio also founded Mila, a Montreal-based research institute, a collaboration between the four Montreal universities that is made up of “450 researchers specializing in machine learning and dedicated to scientific excellence and innovation.”
It should come as no surprise that Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others all have AI centers in Montreal. Indeed, in May 2019, Swedish Ericsson announced the launch of a global AI accelerator set to work on “using AI and automation technologies to create data-driven, intelligent products and services.”
So if you’re interested in diving head first into AI and working on truly innovative, cutting-edge tech, Canada isn’t just a good option, it’s the best option.
4. Simple path to permanent residence.
We saved the best reason for last – Canada’s simple path to permanent residence. Sure it’s great that you can easily get a work permit and take part in Canada’s explosive tech growth. But great innovation takes time, and in Canada, you can easily apply to become a permanent resident (PR) and have the confidence that you won’t be waiting decades to be able to really put down roots in your new home country..
Being a Canadian PR isn’t just straightforward, it also comes with incredible perks, such as the ability to qualify for federal healthcare, take advantage of Canada’s incredible public education, live anywhere in the country, and eventually apply for Canadian citizenship.
What are you waiting for?
Canada is one of the most immigrant-friendly nations in the world, and now it’s also one of the most tech-savvy.
So if you’re a tech professional and you’re either thinking about moving to the US or you’re already in the US and unsure of your future, Canada has your back.
Want to learn how easy it is to move to Canada, or have questions about the process? Path to Canada can help you determine your eligibility and give you the answers you’re looking for. What are you waiting for – check us out!