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Wanted: U.S. Tech Workers in Canada

Canadian tech companies are thriving in 2018, standing at the frontline of global innovation. They may be headed towards replacing the United States as the #1 country in technological and scientific advancements. We are seeing a significant increase of U.S. scientists and technologists applying for jobs in Canada, especially in Toronto, where the MaRS Discovery District, an enormous startup incubator, is quartered in the middle of the city. This unprecedented wave of immigration applications coming from highly skilled Americans working in the STEM field could be a sign that President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, which focus on restricting immigration of talented foreigners, are barring the breadth of innovators in the American tech hub.

A survey conducted by MaRS Discovery District is at the center of this observation. The survey included 55 tech companies based in the Toronto region that receive over $1 million CAD in annual revenue.

The study showed the following:

  • 55% of companies saw an increase of international applicants in 2017 than in 2016, and many reported that this increase was of at least 50-100%;
  • 45% of companies hired international applicants in 2017;
  • Some companies saw as much as a 300% increase in general applicants, year over year;
  • The top jobs for international applicants included engineering, sales, marketing, data scientists, operations, and c-suite;
  • 82% of companies reported hiring applicants coming from the United States.

The Canadian companies surveyed in the MaRS study are also hiring from India (55%), China (36%), Brazil (27%), and the UK (14%).

The companies are citing the new Canadian application stream, Global Skills Strategy, as one of the main influencing factors for their increase in international hires. The Global Skills Strategy stream allows foreign nationals working in very specific fields found in the Global Talent Occupations List to come to Canada on a work permit. This differs from the Skilled Workers stream of the Express Entry system, as it ensures the following: two-week processing, and work permit exemptions. The departmental staff also dedicates itself to a high quality service channel, aiming to guide employers through their specific immigration needs.

MaRS CEO Yung Wu, however, strongly believes that the U.S. immigration policies are also firmly affecting the wave of American tech workers in Canada: “For the first time in my life, the North to South brain drain is flowing in the opposite direction, top talent will go where they can work with the best and make the biggest impact”, he states, “and Canada has emerged as the obvious destination.”

We hope to see more highly skilled workers from the U.S. and around the globe make their way up North to further innovation in the Canadian tech market, and throughout the world.

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Promoting Inclusivity for People with Disabilities:

Changes in the Canadian Medical Inadmissibility Policy

The Canadian government is pledging to make its immigration system more inclusive to foreign nationals. Canada is committed to being at the forefront of ensuring accessibility and opportunities to Canadians with disabilities. Prior to the changes, applicants could be found inadmissible to immigrate to Canada due to mental or physical disabilities that could be handled by the advanced Canadian public healthcare system.

The new policy includes the following changes:

  1. Increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to 3 times the previous level. For example, foreign nationals living with HIV, which used to be considered a burden to the Canadian healthcare system, will now no longer be inadmissible by default, and;
  2. Amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.

The first change aims at facilitating immigration for applicants with health conditions that have low social or health services costs. The second change will ease immigration applications for foreign nationals with intellectual disabilities, hearing or visual impairments, and others.

This move towards an inclusive selection of inadmissible applicants will hopefully create a more welcoming environment for all foreign nationals applying for Canadian immigration, and is very much in line with the government’s agenda of attracting the most qualified applicants to join the Canadian society.

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Attention Investors! : Changes to the Québec Immigrant Investor Program

The Québec government recently announced the suspension of most of its immigration programs, including the Québec Immigrant Investor Program. The Québec Immigrant Investor Program allowed Immigrant Investors with a minimum net worth of $1.6M CAD to invest $800,000 CAD into the Canadian economy in order to apply for Permanent Residence. The applicants also had certain professional requirements: in order to apply, one had to be a shareholder of a private company for at least 2 years out of the past 5 years. This prosperous program accepted around 1,900 immigrant investors yearly, generating around $275M CAD on average. There were, however, certain flaws that made the program problematic.

First, the program created an unwanted back door to Vancouver and Toronto, as a significant amount of investors would eventually relocate to those two cities after a year or two of living in Québec, typically with the plans of investing into Toronto or Vancouver real estate. The changes in the program will be focused on creating a permanent bond between the investors and the province of Québec, by adding the requirement of making an investment of $1.2M CAD for a period of 5 years, an increase of $400K CAD. To further prevent the relocation of investors, immigration officers will now be stricter in selecting the applicants by not selecting foreign nationals who own property, have a child attending school, or have relatives in another Canadian province. Moreover, if the applicant has visited other Canadian provinces but never Québec, this will also now be cause for suspicion.

Second, the government wants to ensure that the investments into Québec companies will be notable, and make a real impact. The government will be changing the net asset minimum for applicants to $2M CAD, an increase of $400K CAD from the previous version of the program.

The new and improved program is planned to open in August of 2018, and more modifications regarding processing and selection criteria might be released as we approach this date, so if you are planning on investing in the Québec economy, make sure to keep up with our monthly newsflash.

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