How Canada is fighting the war on talent

Good analysis:

Some might look at Noubar Afeyan’s career as a frustrating example of a talented Canadian scientist who got away. The chairman and co-founder of Boston-based Moderna, one of the leading COVID-19 vaccine makers, was born in Lebanon, immigrated to Canada with his family in the 1970s and did his undergraduate studies at McGill University.

Then we lost him. Mr. Afeyan left to get his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, eventually becoming a star scientist and entrepreneur. He has founded several successful U.S. biotech startups and registered more than 100 patents.

The good news is that Canada’s technology landscape has dramatically changed in the past three-plus decades.

Yes, like Mr. Afeyan, many Canadians are still drawn south by the reputations of U.S. colleges and tech giants. But the evidence suggests Canada has largely reversed its brain drain. This country’s fast-growing technology sector is more than holding its own in the global race for talent, even after the deep economic shock of the pandemic, according to an analysis of employment data contained in a new report for the Innovation Economy Council.

Despite the terrible toll of the pandemic, Canada has become more competitive because there are more opportunities here than ever for people to learn, to build companies and to thrive. And that’s making the market for technology jobs remarkably resilient.

Indeed, there are nearly 100,000 more jobs now in so-called STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and math – in this country than there were before the pandemic. There is still a gaping hole in Canada’s job market, but not for these people. For the most part, Canadian startups and technology companies absorbed the shock, moved to remote work and in some cases have expanded aggressively.

The resilience of tech employment in these uncertain times is a testament to the Canadian sector’s core strengths – an immigration system that welcomes talented foreigners, a growing crop of promising homegrown STEM graduates and a thriving ecosystem of companies.

It’s a tale of two economies, of course. While there was a net gain of 98,500 STEM jobs, Canada had 431,000 fewer non-STEM jobs in October than it had in February, in sectors such as retail, tourism and airlines.

And there is a cautionary note about the STEM jobs. The number of job postings for these workers is down roughly 50 per cent since February, according to an analysis of data from the Labour Market Information Council. This suggests that companies are still hiring, but perhaps not as enthusiastically as they were before the pandemic.

Another consequence of COVID-19 is that it has accelerated the shift to distributed work forces in the tech industry – teams of employees scattered across different cities and countries. Companies have learned that it’s no longer essential to bring people to them. They can just as easily go where the talent is.

Tech giants – including Google, Facebook and Amazon – have set up large Canadian research and development operations in recent years. A growing number of foreign startups are doing the same. They are moving here to tap our plentiful and affordable supply of programmers, engineers, artificial-intelligence experts and scientists.

Talent flows both ways. Thousands of Canadians continue to pursue careers and education in the U.S. despite four years of anti-immigration rhetoric by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump threatened to tighten H-1B visas, but it turns out Canadian STEM workers are still successfully applying for them – more Canadians were issued H-1Bs in 2019 than in 2018.

Still, that exodus is significantly smaller than the inflow of foreign students, workers and entrepreneurs. Most of our departing STEM workers go to the United States – IEC research shows that more than 10,000 Canadians went south in 2019 with H-1B visas and green cards. But Canada gained nearly 23,000 global STEM workers through permanent residency and temporary foreign worker visas that year.

These newcomers are more likely than Canadians born here to work and study in STEM disciplines. It’s proof that Canada is a place where talented foreigners want to live, work and start companies.

There is also some evidence that the combination of U.S. political strife and China’s democracy crackdown in Hong Kong may be drawing Canadian expats home. As many as 300,000 of the roughly three million Canadian passport holders living outside the country may have returned home since COVID-19 hit, many for good.

But without opportunity, none of that would happen.

Today, it’s tempting to imagine a different a different life story for Moderna’s Noubar Afeyan. Instead of leaving, he stays in Montreal and goes on to found a biotech company that develops a Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine that the rest of the world desperately wants. His company is worth more than $60-billion and employs thousands of Canadian scientists.

The resilience of Canada’s STEM work force through the pandemic suggests this kind of homegrown-hero story is not so far-fetched.

Canadians will always leave to find their way in the world. This week’s sale of highly touted Montreal startup Element AI to a California software company marked an unfortunate loss of both intellectual property and talent. Canada isn’t the world’s biggest pond and we’ll never retain all of our companies and people. But we’ve shown that we can win the war for talent.

The Trump presidency peddled its anti-immigration messaging, eroding the false narrative that the best and brightest were always welcome in America. Canada countered with policies and public-relations efforts aimed at attracting talent, such as the highly successful Global Talent Stream program and Communitech’s “We Want You” campaign. It has worked.

But the talent war isn’t over. The key is to continue to create – and promote – opportunities and incentives for the best and brightest here in Canada. If we’ve learned anything from the past few years, it’s that narratives matter. And Canada has a good story to tell.

Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-how-canada-is-fighting-the-war-on-talent/

Outcomes of STEM immigrants in Canada and the U.S.

Good overview of this study, showing that overall STEM immigrants do worse in Canada than the USA, with Statistics Canada providing possible explanations:

Immigrants make up a large share of university-educated workers in STEM fields in both Canada and the U.S., and a recent study looked into which country sees better outcomes for immigrants in these sectors.

The Statistics Canada study looked at the economic outcomes of immigrants age 25 to 64 who had at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM— science, technology, engineering, mathematics—field. In Canada, the data is from 2016, while U.S. data is from 2015 to 2017.

In general, U.S. immigrants saw better outcomes.

In both countries, immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree were twice as likely as the native-born population to have studied in a STEM field. They were also three times as likely to have studied engineering, computer science, and math.

In terms of occupational outcomes, more than half of STEM-educated immigrant workers in both countries held non-STEM jobs. The study said this was, generally, not a big issue because STEM skills are valued in many other occupations. However, it becomes an issue when STEM-educated immigrants in Canada end up  working at jobs that do not require a university education. In Canada, only 20 per cent of STEM educated immigrants working outside of the field are actually working a job that requires a university degree. In the U.S., it is 48 per cent.

Among all STEM-educated workers, immigrants earned 25 per cent less than their Canadian-born counterparts. There was no earnings gap between immigrants and U.S.-born workers.

Even within the Canadian STEM field, immigrants who found work earned 17 per cent less than Canadian-born individuals. In the U.S., immigrants earned about 4 per cent more than their native-born counterparts.

STEM-educated immigrants who did not find a job in the field earned about 34 per cent less than Canadians with the same education. The wage gap was narrower in the States, with immigrants earning about 7 per cent less.

Why are outcomes better in the U.S.?

Statistics Canada offers five possible explanations, though little research has been done on this question.

U.S. is first choice for many high-skilled immigrants

It may be that the skills of STEM-educated immigrants entering the U.S. are higher on overage than those entering Canada.

The study referenced a paper that examined the wage gap between immigrants and native-born workers in Australia, Canada and the U.S. It found significant earning gaps in Australia and Canada compared to the U.S. The authors said the tendency for highly-skilled immigrants to choose the U.S. over other countries was a primary factor in their better relative earnings outcomes in the U.S.

More STEM-educated immigrants in Canada

A higher percentage of Canada’s STEM-educated workforce are immigrants compared to the U.S. The number of STEM-educated immigrants who entered Canada rose significantly in the 1990s in response to the high-tech boom, and has remained at high levels since. Canada does not face a general shortage of STEM workers, the study says.

When there’s an abundance of workers, employers may tend to hire STEM graduates from universities that they are familiar with, and who have experience from countries with similar economies to Canada.

Different immigrant selection processes

In order to immigrate to the U.S. as a skilled worker, immigrants typically already have a job offer when they arrive, or they are international students who can be interviewed by prospective employers in the country. Immigrants who entered the U.S. contingent on job offers were more likely to get skilled jobs. Those who entered on a student, trainee, or temporary work visa, had a significant advantage over the native-born population in wages, patenting and publishing. Much of this advantage was due to their comparatively higher levels of education.

Canada’s points-based immigration system, which has been in use since the 1960s, selects economic immigrants based on their human capital. These days, the Express Entry system ranks candidates based on factors like education, work experience, age, and language ability. The highest-scoring candidates get invited to apply for permanent immigration. Though candidates can get extra points for having a job offer, in some cases, it is not required in order to immigrate to Canada.

Canadian employers play a larger role in immigrant selection in the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) federal immigration program, as well as many Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP), than compared to the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

The study found that STEM-educated immigrants that immigrate through the CEC do relatively well compared to others, and those who go through the PNP typically have the poorest outcomes. One major difference is that the CEC requires immigrants to have at least one year of skilled work experience in Canada, whereas the PNP is more varied, and includes pathways for low-skilled and medium-skilled workers to become permanent residents.

Differences in country of education

Country of education is one of the most important determinants of immigrant earnings, along with language and race or visible minority status, the study says.

Country of education may differ significantly among STEM-educated immigrants in Canada and the U.S. STEM immigrants educated in non-Western countries do not do as well, economically, as others. The study suggest this is for a number of reasons, for example, the quality of education may be lower, or perceived to be lower. In the absence of a shortage of STEM workers, employers may prefer to hire those educated in Western counties. Also, some credentials are not recognized by professional associations in the host country, either for valid or invalid reasons, and this may prevent immigrants from developing countries from getting STEM jobs. Language or cultural issues may also prevent immigrants from being able to use their STEM education. Discrimination may also be a factor.

Other factors unrelated to immigration policy

Factors unrelated to immigration policies may also contribute to better outcomes of STEM-educated immigrants in the U.S., for example, the U.S. industrial structure may result in a higher demand for STEM-educated workers in comparison to other countries.

Source: Outcomes of STEM immigrants in Canada and the U.S.

Covid-19 Immigration Effects: Key slides August 2020

Key immigration and related program trends using IRCC operational data, August data where available:

Summary:

  • August immigration numbers continued to drop for permanent residents compared to July with a slight increase in temporary workers
  • PRs: Admissions continued to decline from 13,650 in July to 11,315 in August, driven by the decline in Economic. August Year-over-year decline: Economic 70.8%, Family 48.6%, Refugees 60% 
    • Applications: Increase from  10,380 in May to  11,957 in June. June year-over-year decrease 77.2%
    • Provincial Nominee Program: Decrease from 3,050 in July to 1,969 in August. August year-over-year decrease: 77.7%
    • TR to PRs transition: Further decrease from 2,950 in July to 1,705 in August (some double counting). August year-over-year decrease of 86.9% (i.e., those already in Canada)
  • Temporary Residents:
    • TRs/IMP: Slight increase from 11,475 in July to 12,565 in August. August Year-over-year decline: Agreements 38.4%, Canadian Interests 49.8%
    • TRs/TFWP: Slight decline from 8,060 in July compared to 7,390 in August. August year-over-year decline: Caregivers 53.4%, Other LMIA 25.2%. Agriculture had a significant increase of 73.8%, perhaps reflecting a later start this year
      • Web “Get a work permit”:  From 69,931 in August to 65,397 in September (outside Canada). September Year-over-year decline: 64.5%
    • Students: Sharp increase from 13,455 in July to 40,130 in August (peak month). However, August year-over-year decrease: 64.5%
      • Applications:  Stable from 3,352 in May to 3,286 in June. June Year-over-year decrease: 91.6%
      • Web “Get a study permit”:  From 67,292 in August to 59,474 in September (outside Canada). September Year-over-year increase: 12.5%
  • Asylum Claimants: Increase from 885 in July to 1,030 in August (about 75% inland). August year-over-year decrease: 83.7%
  • Settlement Services:  Decline from 112,380 in April to 101,415 in May. Year-over-year decrease 9.8 percent
    • Web “Find immigrant services hear you”:  From 13,216 in August to 6,007 in September (outside Canada). September Year-over-year decrease: 57.6%
  • Citizenship: Increase from virtually none in May (53) to 1,656 in June. June Year-over-year decrease: 92.0%.(2019 monthly average was about 20,000)
    • Web “Apply for citizenship”:  From 39,479 in August to 41,263 in September (outside Canada). September 2020-2018 increase: 39.3% 
  • Visitor Visas: Complete shutdown. China authorizations declined faster and sharper

Canada No. 1 for Migrants, U.S. in Sixth Place

Given the contrast in media coverage and political discourse in both countries, would have expected a larger gap:

Canada and the U.S. remained among the most-accepting countries in the world for migrants in 2019. In fact, with a score of 8.46 (out of a possible 9.0) on Gallup’s second administration of its Migrant Acceptance Index, Canada, for the first time, led the rest of the world. The U.S. ranked sixth, with a score of 7.95.

Most-Accepting Countries for Migrants
Migrant Acceptance Index
Canada 8.46
Iceland 8.41
New Zealand 8.32
Australia 8.28
Sierra Leone 8.14
United States 7.95
Burkina Faso* 7.93
Sweden 7.92
Chad* 7.91
Ireland* 7.88
Rwanda 7.88
*Country not on the list in 2016-2017
GALLUP WORLD POLL, 2019

The index is based on three questions that Gallup asked in 140 countries in 2016 and 2017 and updated again in 145 countries in 2019. The questions ask whether people think migrants living in their country, becoming their neighbors and marrying into their families are good things or bad things.

The index is a sum of the points across the three questions, with a maximum possible score of 9.0 (all three are good things) and a minimum possible score of zero (all three are bad things). The higher the score, the more accepting the population is of migrants.

Both Canada and the U.S., which have long histories as receiving countries for migrants, made the most-accepting list in 2017 as well. Migration policies in each country have taken different paths since then, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau opening Canada’s doors even wider, as President Donald Trump has tried to shut doors in the U.S. However, the acceptance of migrants among residents in each country has remained resolute and relatively unchanged from where they stood three years ago.

In Canada, residents almost universally saw migrants living in their country (94%) and being in their neighborhoods (95%) as good things, while more than nine in 10 (91%) said a migrant marrying into their family would be a good thing. Most Americans said the same, although not nearly to the same degree as Canadians. Nine in 10 (90%) said a migrant living in their neighborhood would be a good thing, and similar percentages said migrants living in their country (87%) and marrying into their families (85%) would be good things.

Migrant Acceptance Continues to Follow Political Fault Lines

As in 2017, migrant acceptance in both countries continues to be polarized. In the U.S., those who approved of Trump’s job performance scored a 7.10 out of a possible 9.0 on the Migrant Acceptance Index, while those who disapproved scored an 8.59 on the index. In Canada, those who approved of Trudeau’s job performance scored an 8.73, while the score was 8.21 among those who disapproved.

The same relationships persist, although not to the same degree, looking at approval of the country’s leadership in general.

Political Divides on Migration in Canada, U.S.
Migrant Acceptance Index
Americans
Approve of Trump 7.10
Disapprove of Trump 8.59
Approve of country’s leadership 7.10
Disapprove of country’s leadership 8.49
Canadians
Approve of Trudeau 8.73
Disapprove of Trudeau 8.21
Approve of country’s leadership 8.59
Disapprove of country’s leadership 8.31
GALLUP WORLD POLL, 2019

In the U.S., interestingly, there are differences in migrant acceptance among those who personally identified most with their city and country where they live (8.16) compared with those who identified most with their race or religion (7.69). In Canada, there were no differences in migrant acceptance based on how people identified themselves.

Most Educated in Each Country Are Most Accepting

For the most part, as it did in 2017, people’s acceptance of migrants follow the same patterns in both Canada and the U.S.: Acceptance is higher among those with the most education and among those living in urban areas.

Interestingly, the patterns by age in the two countries are different. In the U.S., acceptance was highest among the youngest Americans and then declined with age. Among Americans between the ages of 15 and 29, the index score was 8.34; it measured nearly a full point lower among those aged 65 and older (7.37). In Canada, there were no real statistical differences by age group.

Migrant Acceptance by Age in the U.S., Canada
Migrant Acceptance Index
Americans
15-29 8.34
30-44 8.11
45-54 8.04
55-64 7.79
65+ 7.37
Canadians
15-29* 8.32
30-44 8.54
45-54 8.53
55-64 8.41
65+ 8.51
*Difference not significant because of smaller sample sizes
GALLUP WORLD POLL, 2019

Bottom Line

Both Canada and the U.S. have long histories as receiving countries, but over the past several years, policies in each country have moved in opposite directions. Until the pandemic forced Canada to slow immigration to a trickle, the country was poised to admit more than 1 million permanent residents between 2019 and 2021, with targets increasing every year. In the U.S., the Trump administration is estimated to have cut legal immigration by almost half since taking office.

However, it appears that these changes in policies haven’t drastically changed most people’s acceptance of migrants. Residents in each country, and particularly in Canada, are accepting of the migrants who will continue to play a huge role in shaping their country’s future.

Source: https://news.gallup.com/poll/320669/canada-migrants-sixth-place.aspx

And for a broader take:

Global tolerance of migrants declined between 2016 and 2019, Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Indexrevealed on Wednesday.

The survey showed that several of the least tolerant countries were from the EU. Member states met Wednesday to discuss a new joint migration policy.

The report gave countries scores based on the attitudes of respondents to the idea of migrants living in their country, moving into their neighborhood and marrying into their family. The average score globally fell from 5.34 in 2016 to 5.21 in 2019. Nne was the highest possible result.

The largest drop in tolerant attitudes towards migrants was seen in South America, where several countries have experienced a large influx of refugees from Venezuela. In Colombia, which bore the brunt of the exodus, the percentage of respondents with a positive view of migrants living in the country plummeted from 61% to 29%.

Belgium and Switzerland had some of the largest decreases in tolerant attitudes. Belgium, home to the European Parliament, saw its score fall by 1.33.

EU member states Hungary, Croatia, Latvia and Slovakia were among the top ten least accepting countries according to the poll, with a further four Balkan countries making it onto the list.

Another country which has played a significant role in the EU’s immigration policy was also revealed to have largely negative attitudes towards immigration. Turkey, which became home to some 4 million refugees as part of a deal with the European bloc, was the 10th least accepting country for migrants according to the data collected by Gallup.

However, one eastern European country with a traditionally low tolerance of immigration saw an increase in positive and tolerant attitudes. A share of 42% of Polish respondents said that they considered migrants living in the country as something good, up from 29% three years prior.

Which countries are most tolerant of immigration?

Canada topped the list for the countries most accepting of immigration — 94% of respondents had positive views of immigrants living in their country, followed by Iceland and New Zealand. Within the EU, only Sweden and Ireland made it into the top 10.

Despite a series of anti-immigration policies by President Donald Trump’s administration in the US, the country came in sixth place for its generally pro-immigration attitudes. When asked about immigrants moving into their neighborhood, 90% of US respondents said this was a good thing.

Among those who supported Trump, the average score was 7.1 out of nine. The biggest difference was between the younger and older generations with 16- to 29-year-olds scoring 8.34 and those older than 65 scoring around one point less, at 7.37.

Glavin: Don’t show up at Black Lives Matter rallies in clothes made by slaves

While much of Glavin’s commentary is appropriate, he overstates IMO the contrast between the USA and Canada, given that all the big companies he lists as being complicit, have a large American retail presence with comparable sourcing issues. Not too mention Disney’s Mulan shot in Xinjiang.

So while American laws may be better, is the reality?

It’s positively uplifting, you could say, that owing to the protests and riots and presidential election-year shouting about systemic racism and police violence in the United States, quite a few Canadians seem to have developed an acutely attentive awareness of the history of Black slavery in America and its enduring legacy. Perhaps not so heartwarming is that the throngs of earnest protesters turning out for all those Black Lives Matter rallies across Canada are wearing clothes made by slaves.

That Canadians of even the most advanced progressive sophistication give every appearance of being completely oblivious to this ugly irony is even less uplifting. An entire summer of American-style protests about the wickedness of racism and capitalism has come and gone without any obvious notice that Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Adidas, Esprit, Calvin Klein, Nike, UNIQLO, H&M, Lacoste and quite a few other globe-spanning corporations are demonstrably implicated in slavery, child labour, and forced-labour production in prisons and detention centres and sweatshops from Dhaka to Urumqi.

In July, the International Confederation of Trade Unions joined with 180 human rights and Uyghur advocacy organizations to launch an ambitious campaign to bring all this to light and to bring forced Uyghur labour to an end. It’s hard to say whether the campaign has gained much traction. Perhaps they should pull down some statues.

At least the U.S. Congress has been doing its bit. The bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act would build on existing U.S. prohibitions on the import of slave-made goods, and the proposed Slave-Free Business Certification Act is an even tougher law, promising penalties of up to $500 million.

Canadians, however – for all our boasts about being unstained by the original American sin of slavery – have long been global laggards in the cause of slavery’s abolition. Unlike the United States, Britain, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Norway and so on, Canada has no specific legislation aimed at banning the import of goods produced by forced labour. World Vision Canada reckons that forced labour or child labour is implicated in $34 billion in products imported into Canada annually.

It is doubly embarrassing – maybe this is why it’s been the subject of nearly no public notice at all – that it’s taking the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the deal that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement, to drag Canada into the world’s anti-slavery camp. Effective July 1, USMCA requires Canada to amend the Customs tariff laws to impose prohibitions on the importation of goods produced wholly or in part by forced labour.The USMCA’s forced-labour provisions should be expected to put wind in the sails of an effort by Liberal MP John McKay and Quebec Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne that has been marooned in a procedural tidepool of committee hearings and on-again, off-again consultations for two years. Their proposed law, the Modern Slavery Act, would force corporations to show that their supply chains are free of forced labour, on pain of fines of up to $250,000.

Because the Americans were already in compliance with the UMSCA’s forced-labour provisions, on July 1 they hit the ground running. U.S. law already allows for the seizure of goods and criminal charges for violators, and just this week, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency was preparing to block imports of cotton from Xinjiang, where almost all of China’s cotton fields are located. One in five garments worldwide contains cotton from Xinjiang.

The U.S. import bans are expected to also include tomato products and human hair, and computer parts from Hefei Bitland Information Technology. Products from the Lop County Industrial Park and Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center are headed for banned list, following the July 1 seizure of several tons of hair extensions shipped to the U.S. believed to have been “harvested” from Uyghur women by the Lop County Meixin Hair Products Company. The U.S. State Department has also warned Walmart, Amazon and the Apple corporation that they face severe legal risks over their supply chains associated with Xinjiang.

According to the Walk Free Foundation’s 2018 Global Slavery Index, Canada is vulnerable to slave-labour contamination in supply chains involving nearly $10 billion worth of laptop computers and mobile phones annually imported from China and Malaysia, and $6 billion worth of apparel imports. Several other supply chains are suspect, including gold from Peru and sugarcane from Brazil.

While Canada has been noticeably absent in the global struggle against slavery, there is one Canadian bright spot, involving a particularly grotesque Canadian embarrassment.

The bright spot: Last March, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that three Eritrean refugees could sue the Vancouver-based mining company Nevsun Resources for engaging in slavery and committing crimes against humanity at the notorious Bisha gold, copper and zinc mine in Eritrea, co-owned by Nevsun and the Eritrean dictatorship. The three plaintiffs in the case say they were conscripted into the military and forced to work at the mine for 11, 14 and 17 years respectively, and that they were tortured and made to put in 12-hour days, sometimes seven days a week.

The embarrassment: Four years ago, when a UN commission of inquiry confirmed reports of abuse at the mine so grotesque as to amount to crimes against humanity, it turned out that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board owned 1.5 million shares of Bevsun Resources. In 2018, Nevsun’s shareholders agreed to sell the company for $1.86 billion to China’s Zijin Mining Group.

Perhaps Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should take a knee.

Source: Glavin: Don’t show up at Black Lives Matter rallies in clothes made by slaves

Immigration Policy and the Global Competition for AI Talent

Some really interesting cross-country comparisons, highlighting the gap between the current US approach and other countries:

This paper analyzes policies relevant to four categories of immigrants: students in AI-related fields of study, workers in AI-related industries, distinguished AI workers (that is, individuals internationally renowned for their achievements in AI), and AI entrepreneurs. These groups represent the range of backgrounds and experience levels that nations need to compete in AI. We explore trends that, taken together, may be making the U.S. immigration system less attractive to these groups relative to other countries’ systems:

  • Within the last five years, the UK, Canada, France, and Australia have adopted major immigration reforms to attract talent in AI and other technical fields. The United States has not.
  • Despite growing job opportunities, recent graduates and others may be restrained from contributing to the U.S. AI workforce to their full potential—partly due to current caps, backlogs, and sponsorship processes at the expense of the employer for temporary work visas and permanent residency. In contrast, Canada’s new immigration policies quickly bring in skilled migrants and integrate graduates into the workforce. The UK is proposing similar changes to ease and expedite the immigration process for technically skilled migrants.
  • The United States’ per-country quotas on permanent residency—which remain unchanged for decades—have created a significant bottleneck, especially for Indian nationals who make up the 25 percent of Silicon Valley’s technical workforce. The other countries in this analysis forego quotas on permanent residency status and allow immigrants who meet permanent residency requirements to apply.
  • Although data is scarce and important trends are in nascent stages, empirical indicators suggest that some new AI-focused immigration policies in other countries are successful.
  • The United States has long attracted immigrant entrepreneurs with its innovative culture, but does not offer an entrepreneur visa. Entrepreneur visas offered by other countries in this analysis have largely failed due to unrealistic and vague metrics for business success or long processing times. The United States could learn from the mistakes of competitor countries and design its own visa to increase its immigrant entrepreneur population and create jobs for Americans.

The United States historically and presently benefits from a strong baseline of technological innovation through existing institutions. Immigration trends alone are unlikely to eliminate the U.S. advantage in the near term. However, the global landscape is shifting, and restrictive immigration policies threaten to undermine U.S. AI progress in the long term. To ensure America remains competitive for AI talent in the coming years, U.S. policymakers should consider reforms to current immigration statutes, regulations, and agency guidance. Other countries’ immigration reforms suggest three main lessons:

  • Improve temporary visa options for skilled workers. The structure of the H-1B temporary work visa prevents AI talent from contributing to the United States to their full potential. In particular, workers seeking permanent residency while on H-1B status—a process that could take years or decades—would need another sponsorship if they wished to switch positions or employers. Further, the H-1B lottery occurs only once a year, forcing employers to wait until the annual draw on April 1 to learn whether critical employees have been selected. In contrast, Canada has no cap on the number of work permits that can be provided year-round and issues these permits in as little as two weeks.

  • Expand opportunities for permanent residency. Allocating permanent residency status based on decades-old caps and immigrants’ countries of origin, rather than the skills they bring to the United States, has created a bottleneck for highly skilled AI workers who wish to contribute to the U.S. AI workforce in the long term. Specifically, the employment-based green card wait time for Indian nationals, who make up 25 percent of Silicon Valley’s technical work force, is 89 years. There are no formal caps or quotas on permanent residency in the UK, France, Australia, and Canada. Instead, immigrants are eligible to apply once they have lived or worked in the country for a set number of years.

  • Expand opportunities for entrepreneurs. While each of the other four countries in this analysis offers some form of an entrepreneur visa, initial results suggest they have been relatively unsuccessful. The United States should strengthen AI innovation by adopting an entrepreneur visa informed by the flaws of competitor nations to better attract and retain AI entrepreneurs.

As Donald Trump tightens immigration rules, Indian tech students ditch the American Dream for Canada

Yet another article of the shift with some interesting data:

Indian students are slowly getting over their fascination with the US.

The number of Indians enrolled in graduate-level computer science and engineering courses at American universities declined by more than 25% between 2016-’17 and 2018-’19, according to an analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy.

The key factors for this decline are “more restrictive immigrationand international student policies under the [Donald] Trump administration and the difficulty of obtaining green cards in the United States,” the think tank focused on public policy research on trade and immigration said in a report published on June 8.

Data: National Foundation for American Policy, US Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, special tabulations (2018) of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database via Quartz

This decline is a massive hit to the entire international tech student population in the US, as Indians form an outsized proportion of the group.

Data: National Foundation for American Policy, US Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, special tabulations (2018) of the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) database via Quartz

America’s loss

In a letter dated June 2, 21 members of the US Congress highlighted that international students and their families contributed approximately $41 billion to the US economy in 2018-’19 alone, despite making up just 5.5% of overall US college enrollments. This cohort subsidises tuition for many domestic students.

Moreover, “as a source of research assistants, graduate students help professors conduct research and retain top faculty,” the National Foundation for American Policy report said. “Without the ability to perform high-level research, many leading professors would move on to other careers, which would weaken American universities as a global centre for science.”

While the US is losing out on Indian talent, its neighbour is making strides.

Canada’s gain

National Foundation for American Policy’s research shows that the share of Indian students in Canada more than doubled between the academic years 2016-’17 and 2018-’19.

Data: Canadian Bureau for International Education, National Foundation for American Policy via Quartz

Unlike America’s hardline approach, Canada’s policies have been incentivising students. In June 2018, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced the Student Direct Stream for China, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Students from these four countries enrolled in any of the 1,400-plus designated learning institutes in Canada can fast-track their applications, as long as they pass English-language tests and prove they are financially stable.

While the US has suspended immigration due to coronavirus outbreak and is reconsidering the post-graduate work programme Optional Practical Training, Canada isn’t letting Covid-19 get in its way.

As of May 14, international students with valid study permits in Canada from before March 18 have been exempted from the travel restrictions contingent on passing health checks and following isolation protocols.

Not just students but even Indian working professionals have been flocking to Canada as Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric builds up. Several Indian techies have been swapping Silicon Valley for the more immigrant-friendly neighbour.

“Canada is benefiting from a diversion of young Indian tech workers from US destinations, largely because of the challenges of obtaining and renewing H-1B visas and finding a reliable route to US permanent residence,” said Peter Rekai, founder of the Toronto-based immigration law firm Rekai LLP. The country even offers express entry for skilled immigrants.

Moreover, Canada allows permanent residents to apply for citizenship after six years. Indian permanent residents admitted into the country jumped up over 117% between fiscal years 2016 and 2019, National Foundation for American Policy found.

Source: As Donald Trump tightens immigration rules, Indian tech students ditch the American Dream for Canada

Douglas Todd: Canada, Australia take different tacks on immigration amid COVID crisis

We have an understandable tendency to compare Canada with Australia.

Yet the Australian political culture is different in terms of language and tone, with its conservatives being more to the right in general than Canadian conservatives.

Moreover, Australia, unlike Canada, was forced to develop an (imperfect) culture of accommodation, given the large French speaking minority. Both countries, of course, share a common and difficult history with their Indigenous populations.

But under both Liberal and Conservative governments, Canada has generally favoured higher levels of immigration and greater openness to minority accommodation.

So while I expect the economic fallout will force the Liberal government to reduce immigration levels somewhat, I would expect this to be more modest than in Australia. And it is noteworthy that the Conservatives are not (yet) calling for any major pause or reduction. But we shall see how this plays out::

I’m not alone in attending social events in this country where the conversation turns much more easily to American politics than Canadian.

Donald Trump. Nancy Pelosi. Mike Pompeo. Joe Biden. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Anne Coulter. Bernie Sanders. The list of strong personalities goes on. It’s not surprising subdued Canadians become fixated on the take-no-prisoners politics of the U.S.

But it could be more relevant for Canadians to compare and contrast how leaders are responding to COVID-19 and its implications in a more similar English-language country, despite it being geographically farther away than the world’s largest economic power.

Like Canada, Australia is a middle power with a reasonably healthy parliamentary democracy, as well as shared British roots (French in Canada as well) and a significant Indigenous presence. Multiculturalism flourishes in both countries, where more than one in five residents are foreign-born. We have similar populations: Australia contains 25 million people, Canada 35 million.

Canada and Australia — more than the U.S., which takes in one-third the number of immigrants per capita — have relied on large numbers of immigrants as well as foreign students and workers on visas to expand their economies, educational systems and housing markets.

Like Canada, however, Australia’s economy has been severely battered by the lockdown .

Australia lost 594,300 jobs in April, its largest fall on record, and now has an unemployment rate of seven per cent. Canada lost almost two million jobs and has seen unemployment balloon to 13 per cent. The economies and housing markets of both countries are shaking.

Yet Australia’s elected leaders are sharply diverging from those in Canada in how they’re responding to the pandemic at a policy level, especially regarding migration.

With a degree of frankness rarely heard from Ottawa, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expects immigration to fall by 30 per cent by the end of the summer.

The Australian PM went on to forecast immigration levels would plunge by a breath-taking 85 per cent in the fiscal year ending in the summer of 2021.

Morrison acknowledged the decline will be a shock to his traditionally immigration-friendly country. But he suggested Australians ought to get used to lower levels.

In the last two years Australia accepted 470,000 new immigrants, while Canada welcomed 616,000. The two countries’ multi-ethnic populations have in the past roughly agreed on immigration policy.

A YouGov poll found Canadians and Australians have been more open to high in-migration rates than citizens of most nations. Even though 38 per cent of Canadians and 46 per cent of Australians said last year they want to reduce the number of incoming migrants, roughly a quarter wanted the rate to stay the same and another quarter hoped levels would be hiked.

Yet the two countries are now talking and acting much differently in regards to the future of migration. Unlike Australia’s prime minister, Canada’s Justin Trudeau has not speculated about possible intake levels. His immigration minister, Marco Mendicino, simply said this month that robust in-migration must continue in the aftermath of COVID-19 travel bans.

But questions are arising about whether the higher immigration targets the Liberals released in early March — of 341,000 new permanent residents in 2020, 351,000 in 2021 and 361,000 in 2022 — are sustainable, taking into account sweeping unemployment.

“Given that the economic crisis will linger long after the health crisis has passed, can Canada accommodate an additional one per cent of immigrants and refugees added to our population in the foreseeable future,” asked Conservative immigration critic Peter Kent. Mendicino promised only that he would provide an update on migration targets in the fall.

The two countries are also diverging on non-permanent residents. Australia’s acting immigration minister said 300,000 people on study visas and work visas have already departed the country and another one-quarter are expected to go. They are leaving in part because Morrison, who leads the centre-right Liberal-National Coalition government, told non-Australians, including a record 720,000 international students, to return to their home countries if they could not financially support themselves during the coronavirus crisis.

Across party lines Australian politicians are expressing worries about how future immigrants, foreign students and guest workers will compete for jobs with the upwards of a million Australians who have been frozen out of work, at least temporarily, due to COVID-19.

Senator Kristina Keneally, a spokeswoman for the opposition Labor party, recently called for a reduction in migrant numbers after the pandemic, saying the country’s historic reliance on immigration to boost growth has hurt some workers and inflated housing prices.

“When we restart our migration program, do we want migrants to return to Australia in the same numbers and in the same composition as before the crisis? Our answer should be no,” Keneally wrote in a much-discussed May 3 opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald .

“Our economic recovery must help all Australians get back on their feet, and to do that we need a migration program that puts Australian workers first,” said Keneally, adding that Morrison’s government had “cynically” created one of the largest migrant labour forces in the world, of 2.1 million temporary workers.

In contrast to Australia’s politicians, Ottawa is hoping to keep immigration levels high and retain as many international students and guest workers as possible.

To convince tens of thousands of temporary foreign workers to continue assisting Canadian farms and long-term care facilities, the Liberal government recently began making it easier for them to get permanent resident status.

Worried about a drastic drop in the country’s record 645,000 fee-paying international students, Ottawa removed the cap on how many hours most can work each month. It also made it possible for foreign students to keep their study visas even if they are not in the country.

Last week, in addition, the Liberals changed policy so that up to a million foreign students, refugees and guest workers could apply for the government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) of $2,000 a month without providing proof of a work permit .

Despite so many longstanding similarities between the two countries in regards to the complexities of migration policy, the leaders of Australia and Canada are now taking opposite approaches in the devastating wake of COVID-19.

In effect, Canada and Australia have turned themselves into living laboratories, engaging in different social experiments. We will be better able to evaluate their theories once the test results come in.

Source: Douglas Todd: Canada, Australia take different tacks on immigration amid COVID crisis

Trump Administration Bars Most International Students From Receiving Coronavirus College Relief

Seems similar to the Canadian approach (Canadian citizens and permanent residents studying at Canadian institutions) but to be confirmed when program guidelines confirmed:

The Trump administration is barring most international students and all students who entered the U.S. illegally from receiving emergency college grants approved by Congress as part of a $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued the restriction in new guidelines released Tuesday telling colleges how to distribute more than $6 billion in grants meant to help students cover unexpected costs triggered by the pandemic. Earlier guidance from the Education Department suggested universities would have wide flexibility in distributing the grants, but the new guidelines said that only students who qualify for other federal student aid can receive the aid.

More than 400,000 students are estimated to have entered the U.S. illegally. More than 1 million international students are enrolled at U.S. colleges.

University leaders and immigration groups blasted the change, saying DeVos is imposing new limits that were not included in Congress’ legislation. The rescue package did not specify which students are eligible for grants, and many colleges had planned to distribute emergency grants to needy students regardless of their citizenship status.

Some prestigious universities cited the new policy in decisions to reject the funding. Princeton University announced Wednesday that it would refuse its $2.4 million share of coronavirus relief over the policy. Harvard University also cited the change in its decision to reject $8.7 million in aid.

The Education Department said its guidance is aligned with other federal laws. The agency cited the Higher Education Act, a sweeping law that says only U.S. citizens and a narrow set of “eligible noncitizens” are eligible for federal student aid. Angela Morabito, a department spokeswoman, said the rescue package legislation “makes clear that this taxpayer funded relief fund should be targeted to U.S. citizens, which is consistently echoed throughout the law.”

But some higher education advocates challenged that claim. The American Council on Education, an association of college presidents, said the rescue package placed no limits on student eligibility.

“The statute says almost nothing about who is eligible to receive a grant. The Department of Education owns this decision. Period,” said Terry Hartle, the group’s senior vice president. He added that the group is disappointed by DeVos’ policy. “We strongly believed many of these students needed help.”

The guidelines have created confusion about exactly which students can receive the grants, Hartle said. It’s clear that the department is excluding immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and international students, he said, but it’s unclear how schools should determine eligibility. Most colleges don’t ask students if they’re U.S. citizens, he said, and officials have no easy way to check.

“A college could give an emergency grant to a Dreamer without realizing the person is a Dreamer,” he said, referring to immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally but allowed to stay under the under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

At the University of California, Riverside, officials had been planning to award grants to some of the campus’ estimated 600 DACA recipients. Now, officials will turn to fundraising or other revenue sources to help students excluded by the Education Department.

Chancellor Kim Wilcox said he’s grateful for the federal relief but was disheartened by DeVos’ policy.

“I was disappointed for students here at UCR, for students across California, and I was disappointed for the nation,” Wilcox said. “This is a huge economic hit and there are pressing needs everywhere.”

Student advocates see DeVos’ update as a reversal from her previous guidance. When DeVos made the funding available in early April, she said colleges would be given flexibility in deciding how to award grants. She told colleges to focus on helping the neediest students. And in paperwork that colleges sign to receive the funding, the agency says the relief isn’t considered federal financial aid.

That earlier guidance led some schools to believe the grants were exempt from citizenship requirements.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, said the new requirements are cruel to students who were counting on the grants to cover food, housing and other costs, and to colleges that now have to scramble to revise plans for distributing the funding. Losing access to the grants will likely force some students to drop out, she said, especially those whose families are dealing with unemployment amid the pandemic.

“They’re not going to have the money that they need to stay connected to their college. And people who drop out of college often do not come back,” said Goldrick-Rab, who founded the nonprofit Hope Center for College, Community and Justice.

Critics say the policy is particularly unjust because the same students now barred from receiving grants were counted in the formula used to allocate money for schools. The rescue package provided $14 billion for the nation’s colleges, offering them varying sums based on their student enrollment and the percentage of students they teach from poorer backgrounds.

The United We Dream Network, which advocates for DACA recipients, said it was “callous” of DeVos to block so many students from access to funding. Sanaa Abrar, the group’s advocacy director, urged Congress and colleges to find other ways to help students excluded by DeVos’ directive.

“Every single relief package being discussed in Congress must include both the health care and financial assistance immigrant communities need,” Abrar said, “especially as the Trump administration continues to attack and scapegoat our communities amidst a pandemic.”

Source: Trump Administration Bars Most International Students From Receiving Coronavirus College Relief

You don’t stop a virus by bleeding democracy

Why is it that governments, no matter their political stripe, cannot resist the temptation to over-reach and reduce oversight, whether with respect to bloated omnibus budget bills or during the current COVID-19 pandemic?

And while the federal Conservatives, supported by the NDP, correctly forced the Liberals to back down given a minority government, in Alberta, there is no such check on the UCP government as this Globe editorial details.

Even more shameful than the attempted federal Liberal element given the UCP’s majority and its disregard for parliament (ironic, given that Premier Kenney was an effective parliamentarian at the federal level).

Hopefully, the same conservative-leaning pundits that rightly condemned the Liberal attempted power grab will also call out the Alberta UCP power grab (the first one to do so, John Carpay: Alberta’s Bill 10 is an affront to the rule of law):

Three weeks ago, the Trudeau government tried to use the cover of the coronavirus crisis to give itself unchecked powers once enjoyed by 17th-century European monarchs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had recalled the House of Commons on March 23 to debate and pass emergency measures to shore up the economy and help Canadians who were losing their jobs.

The opposition were willing to back the minority government’s economic measures, but once they saw the draft bill, they realized the Liberals had something more in mind.

Along with tens of billions of dollars in aid for Canadians in need, the bailout legislation also included clauses that would have given the government the power to raise or lower taxes, and to spend money, without going through Parliament. These extraordinary powers were to last until Dec. 31, 2021.

The opposition, along with many in the media, this page included, were having none of it. By the end of the day on March 23, the government relented. It removed the offending clauses, the opposition offered its backing and, the next day, the bill became law.

Team Trudeau has not explained its attempted end run around democracy, probably because it can’t. There is never any reason to usurp Parliament’s critical role as overseer of government and keeper of the public purse. Every Canadian government, provincial or federal, should get that.

And yet, barely a week later, it happened again.

In Alberta, the United Conservative Party of Premier Jason Kenney used its overwhelming majority to push through a bill on April 2 that gives cabinet ministers unilateral power to write and enact new laws in public health emergencies, with zero oversight by the provincial legislature.

Under Bill 10, the only requirement for enacting a new law is that the relevant minister “is satisfied that doing so is in the public interest.” The only limit on that power is that a new offence cannot be applied retroactively.

It is utterly wrong for democratic governments to seek unilateral powers under the cover of an emergency. It is also unnecessary. There is no justification for it – especially not the one that says governments need to move quickly in a crisis.

Alberta passed Bill 10 in less than 48 hours; the Trudeau government, having secured the support of the opposition, passed its original bailout measures in the same short period. Last weekend, it took less than a day for Parliament to adopt a wage subsidy package. The government shared the legislation with the opposition in advance and made changes to ensure it would pass.

Giving legislators the chance to study, debate and vote on bills doesn’t result in unacceptable delays – if anything, as shown time and again, it improves legislation. More importantly, the transparency and accountability that comes from having to pass a bill through Parliament is the foundation of our system of government.

The Liberals and the opposition parties are now arguing about how often the House of Commons should sit during the remainder of the crisis, and whether sessions should be held in person with a skeleton crew of members, or with all MPs, via teleconferencing.

However it does so, Parliament must sit. Committees, too. And Question Period must happen, so that the government remains answerable to the House and to Canadians. That holds in Ottawa and in each of the provinces. It goes for both minority and majority governments.

Under no circumstances should any government see this emergency as an excuse to sideline the elected representatives of the people.

Thanks to their daily crisis briefings, government leaders are dominating the news coverage. Opposition voices have been sidelined, but they must be given their due in order for our democracy to function properly. That happens best in Parliament.

This crisis is demanding a lot of Canadians. They are self-isolating at home with their families. Many have lost their jobs, or are watching their businesses teeter on the precipice.

They will be able to decide for themselves whether federal and provincial opposition parties have helped the situation, or simply been a partisan nuisance. But Canadians must not come out the other end of this only to discover that their institutions and rights have been compromised by governments that grabbed for powers they were not entitled to.

Source:    You don’t stop a virus by bleeding democracy Editorial <img src=”https://www.theglobeandmail.com/resizer/p5aED50QGxv9DJSWx6332Wy7vT0=/163×0:4746×3055/600×0/filters:quality(80)/arc-anglerfish-tgam-prod-tgam.s3.amazonaws.com/public/5D7WOGR7DNNH3AJ33H42OZMKTU.jpg” alt=””>