Silicon Valley News

Monday, May 20, 2013

Canada poaching frustrated immigrant tech workers in Silicon Valley

Jason Kenney, Canada's immigration minister, is touring Silicon Valley and San Francisco in an effort to promote his new visa initiative for startup entrepreneurs. The above video, a classic Silicon Valley elevator pitch, is part of an aggressive effort by Kenney, a member of Canada's ruling Conservative Party, to lure talented immigrant tech workers away from the San Francisco Bay Area.

"I think everybody knows the American system is pretty dysfunctional," Kenney said in an interview in Vancouver, B.C., before he embarked on his tour. "I'm going to the Bay Area to spread the message that Canada is open for business; we're open for newcomers. If they qualify, we'll give them the Canadian equivalent of a green card as soon as they arrive."

"Pivot to Canada" suggests a billboard that appeared off Highway 101 on the route from San Francisco to Silicon Valley days before Kenney's tour.

(Government of Canada)

Canada's startup visa policy stems from an idea first proposed but never passed by the U.S. Congress. Canada will now grant permanent residency to an entrepreneur who can raise enough venture capital and start a Canadian business. Under current U.S. law, skilled foreign workers are only eligible for temporary H-1B visas.

"I met a guy who had been here for 12 years who couldn't get his green card," Kenney told the Silicon Valley Business Journal. "It personalized the frustration that exists with the dysfunctionality of the immigration system here."

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