Strict US immigration laws make Canada more attractive to tech workers

Yet another article on the attractiveness of Canada. Can’t buy this kind of coverage:

The tech industry in the US is booming. Foreign interest in tech jobs is not.

That’s because despite the country’s acute need for highly skilled tech workers, its immigration system has become increasingly unwelcoming.

Since the beginning of 2018, the share of interest from abroad in US tech jobs has remained about the same, according to new data from the global job listing site Indeed, but by most accounts it should be growing.

“All things equal, with the really strong US job market, you’d expect continued growth in foreign interest in US tech jobs,” Indeed economist Andrew Flowers told Recode.

In the past year, foreign interest in Canadian tech jobs has also been flat, according to Indeed’s data, but Canadian jobs had a higher rate of such interest than US ones. In May, 14 percent of all clicks on Canadian tech jobs posted on Indeed were from foreigners, while 9 percent of US tech jobs had attracted clicks from candidates abroad.

Foreign interest as a share of all interest in Canadian tech jobs has shot up precipitously — 55 percent — in the past four years, according to Indeed. The company’s US data doesn’t go back as far as its Canadian data, so we can’t do a long-term comparison of the two.

The absence of growth in foreign tech job interest likely stems from stricter immigration procedures — including those for high-skilled tech workers, who use a visa called H-1B — that have been enacted following President Donald Trump’s Buy American and Hire Americanexecutive order in 2017. The increased difficulty and duration of the US immigration process, which can now take from months to years, have made some tech workers less likely to consider the US an employment option.

Some experts say the US and Canada have been facing a dearth in native-born high-skilled workers that threatens to inhibit their growing technology industries. But while the US has made it more difficult to employ tech workers from abroad, Canada has streamlined its own tech immigration policies. In turn, Canada has become a technology hub. Recently a number of US tech companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, have expanded their offices in Canada. Presumably that’s easier than dealing with ever-tightening US immigration laws. This indicates that in effect, a fear of foreigners taking US jobs has lead to some US jobs going abroad.

That’s presented a challenge for the US’s most dominant industry. Indeed, CEOs from many tech companies have been clamoring for immigration reform.

Tech companies have been asking the government for years to ease the immigration process and increase the quotas on new H-1B applicants — which has remained at 85,000 and is only a tiny fraction of a percentage of the overall job market — since 2006. In that time, the technology industry has ballooned to be by far the biggest segment of the US economy.

Smaller tech companies are facing steeper challenges

“For super-unique, hard skills, you have to look as wide as possible to find the best possible set of candidates to meet the needs of the company,” Ben Schmitt, of information security at Dwolla, a Des Moines, Iowa-based online payments software company, told Recode.

“Someone with specific advanced knowledge of cryptography is tough to hire for,” Schmitt said.

A year and a half ago the company found the perfect candidate, but he’d need an H-1B visa to work in the states. “The person had worked under a well-known cryptographer; he had experience in really hard skills that nicely aligned with our requirements,” Schmitt said.

Dwolla was able to make the hire because Schmitt and the 100-plus person company’s general counsel have had experience with H-1B applications, and were able to get an approval on the first try. The process can take upwards of a year or two — famously, it took the CEO of the now-public US tech company Zoom nine tries to get approved for a visa.

“It takes a lot of time and there are a lot of unknowns,” Schmitt said. “It requires luck and skill, especially for a small company trying to move fast.“

Bart Lorang, founder and CEO of FullContact, has had much less luck with H-1Bs.

In the past few years Lorang’s Colorado-based identity resolution company has acquired a series of other software companies — in Latvia, India, and Tel Aviv — but has since been unable to move most of those tech workers here.

“Literally we flew every employee in the Latvia office here and gave them the pitch on moving to Colorado.” Those six or so employees all agreed to relocate, but most weren’t able to get H-1Bs for various reasons, including lacking what United States Citizenship and Immigration Services deemed unique enough skills or the right level of education. The company now employs 30 people in Latvia.”

“It got worse in the last couple of years, so we sort of gave up,” Lorang told Recode. “What we ended up doing instead of trying to get people to the states is, we’ve grown our staff in other countries, although that wasn’t our initial strategy. We wanted to bring jobs to the US.”

FullContact now employs about 250 people, many of whom are software engineers. Eighty are in the US. Only one has an H-1B visa.

How the government is adding more hurdles

The Trump administration has systematically stymied immigration at multiple levels, by making criteria more strict, asking for more documentation and generally taking longer to process immigration applications.

Although Trump has stressed the need for high-skill tech workers in the US, at the same time he has made it harder for those workers to come here.

In its latest annual report, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services’ director drew attention to the increasing absolute number of visas processed, but the processing rate has actually gone down, according to calculations made using the organization’s own data. The USCIS discouraged calculating a rate.

“They frame this report to show they are adjudicating more of these petitions than ever before. But when you look at the amount being adjudicated as percentage of the backlog plus new receipts, it’s actually down,” Sarah Pierce, an analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank, told Recode.

As Doug Rand, cofounder of Boundless Immigration, a company that helps people navigate the US immigration system, told Recode: “That’s like the DMV bragging that they processed a record number of appointments today, even though the line is still going out the door and around the block.”

The USCIS is funded almost entirely on processing fees, so it’s not dependent on government allocations to do its job.

India is seeing the brunt of immigration reform

Indeed’s data also delved into how interest in US tech jobs has changed by country.

India, the country that receives by far the most H-1B visas, had an 8 percent decline in interest in US tech jobs from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019, according to Indeed. Meanwhile, interest from Germany, France and Russia increased more than 25 percent in that time. This flip is also one of the reasons that the overall interest in US tech jobs has stayed level.

The change may be connected to new immigration rules that have been directed at outsourcing companies by specifically targeting companies that place workers at third-party sites or where 15 percent or more of their workforce is on H-1Bs. Many of those types of companies are based in India and hire Indians.

Stricter rules geared at Indian tech companies could be having a chilling effect on Indians’ interest in US jobs.

“It’s possible, especially if these groups we’re attacking with higher scrutiny are disproportionally groups that hire Indians, that the general sentiment is that the US is closed for Indians,” Pierce said.

She added that the effect wouldn’t just impact outsourcing companies: “Within those groups, they’re also punishing legitimate companies that are just trying to hire the best and brightest and use programs as intended.”

Meanwhile, Indian interest in Canada tech jobs is up.

Source: Strict US immigration laws make Canada more attractive to tech workers

USA: White Supremacy Beyond a White Majority

Quite a contrast with Canadian judicial appointments, currently over 50 percent women under the current government, about one-third under the previous Conservative government and the 80 percent males judges appointed under Trump.

Can only foreshadow further divergence between Canadian and US jurisprudence and representation:

The white male racist patriarchy will not be denied. It is having a moment. It has its own president.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of race/ethnicity and sex among validated voters in the 2016 presidential election, white men were the only group in which a majority voted for Donald Trump — 62 percent — although a plurality of white women did also — 47 percent.

We are living through a flagrant display of a white male exertion of power, authority and privilege, a demonstration meant to underscore that they will forcefully fight any momentum toward demographic displacement, no matter how inevitable the math.

The fear of white male displacement is a powerful psychological motivator and keeps Trump’s base animated and active.

It keeps farmers holding out hope and making excuses for him, even as his trade war devastates their operations. It keeps coal country loyal, even as the promises of a revitalized coal industry ring hollow. It keeps white voters in the rust belt on the edge of their seats, waiting for the day that he will magically bring back manufacturing. It keeps white voters in the South heated over the issue of immigration and an “invasion” or “infestation” of Latin Americans.

Trump’s central promise as a politician has been the elevation, protection and promotion of whiteness, particularly white men who fear demographic changes and loss of status and privilege.

As Vox reported in 2017, white people of all ideologies, including liberals, become more conservative when confronted with the reality that a rising minority population means a loss of white dominance.

As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt recently told Vox:

“As multiculturalism is emphasized more and more, there emerges a reaction against it on the right, which is attractive to the authoritarian mind and also appeals to other conservatives. And this, I think, is what has happened, this is what Trump is about — not entirely, of course, but certainly this is a big factor.”

It is about stacking the courts, controlling the bodies of women (look no further than the raft of state abortion restrictions recently passed, including the outrageous new abortion law in Alabama), fighting the redefinition of gender as personified by the advances in liberty among people who are transgender, restricting the voting of nonwhite, less conservative groups, and controlling the flow of migrants into the country who do not bolster the white population.

While much of the country tries to contend with the unending stream of outrages in the White House, the Senate majority leader is pushing through a steady stream of Trump’s far-right federal judges, often breaking precedent and allowing for their confirmations over their home state’s senators’ objection.

The recent confirmation of Joseph Bianco to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York, was Trump’s 38th confirmed circuit court judge, HuffPost reported last week, adding:

“That’s more circuit judges than any president has gotten by this point in a first term, and means that one in every six seats on the nation’s circuit courts is now filled by a Trump nominee.”

These are lifetime appointments. Even if demographics change over one’s lifetime, these judges will not.

As a recent Congressional Research Service report pointed out, 90 percent of Trump’s circuit court nominees have been white and 92 percent of those confirmed have been white. Among recent presidents, only Ronald Reagan — who opposed making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday, but eventually reversed himself, and who vetoedthe Comprehensive Apartheid Act, which, with a congressional override, leveled sanctions against South Africa for its oppressive racist social architecture — appointed and confirmed a higher percentage of white judges.

Eighty percent of Trump’s judicial nominees have been men, and men have been 74 percent of those confirmed.

None of this can fully prevent change, but it can slow it.

The strategy is to find a way to maintain white supremacy, white dominance, without the necessity of a white majority in the U.S. population.

The point is that once white people become a minority in America, the country itself will move from a majority rule ideal to a minority rule one.

H-1B: U.S. employers say Canada’s immigration policies better, as tech booms north of border

These articles keep on coming:

About two-thirds of U.S. employers see Canada’s immigration policies as more favorable than those at home, while a single Canadian city has seen more tech job growth than the Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C. combined, according to a new report.

“Canada has been using friendly immigration policies as one of its key tools to aggressively attract tech companies,” said the 2019 Immigration Trends Report from Envoy, a firm selling immigration services to companies.

Of the 405 HR professionals and hiring managers who participated in Envoy’s survey late last year, 38 percent said their companies were thinking about expanding to Canada, and about a fifth said they already had one or more offices there, according to the report.

Toronto in 2017 added more tech jobs than the Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, D.C. together, and the nation’s capital, Ottawa, boasts more than 1,700 tech companies, the report said.

The firm’s findings come amid a fierce national debate over immigration, with significant controversy over the H-1B visa. The immigration trends report highlights heightened scrutiny of H-1B applications by federal authorities carrying out President Donald Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.

San Francisco immigration lawyer Pavan Dhillon, who specializes in helping people obtain work permits and residency in Canada, pointed in a tweet to “Green card backlogs & attacks on legal immigration” as reasons why it appears from Silicon Valley that the American Dream is being replaced by the Canadian Dream.

A Quartz magazine article Tuesday argued that Canada is in fact eating our American Dream. Tech founder Vartika Manasvi told Quartz she chose Calgary over Silicon Valley as the location for StackRaft, a startup making a jobs platform.

“People don’t want to risk long-term careers and live with uncertainty in the U.S.,” Manasvi said. “Finding another visa or transferring the H-1B can be stressful. The Canadian immigration system is gradually moving towards becoming more and more skill-based.”

Among the benefits of immigrating to Canada instead of the U.S., Quartz reported, are faster visa processing times and cheaper fees; a more predictable visa-allocation system than America’s H-1B lottery; employment for visa holders’ spouses at a time when the Trump Administration is moving to ban H-1B holders’ wives and husbands from jobs; and permanent residency in two years or citizenship in three, compared to a green card wait that can last many years in America.

Source: H-1B: U.S. employers say Canada’s immigration policies better, as tech booms north of border

Crossing Divides: Has the UK changed its mind on immigration?

Interesting survey results and analysis of the change:

Just over a quarter of nearly 1,500 people who took the Ipsos-Mori online survey felt it had a negative impact.

The findings are in line with other surveys suggesting Britain has changed from being generally negative about immigration before the Brexit vote.

In 2011, 64% of Britons told Ipsos-Mori immigration had been bad for the UK.

The results emerged as part of an international poll of nearly 20,000 people across 27 countries, between 26 November and 7 December last year.

It was undertaken as part of the BBC’s Crossing Divides season, which is bringing people together across lines of ethnicity, class, faith, politics and generation.

Ipsos-Mori graph showing the change in respondents' perceptions of immigration

Prof Rob Ford, who researches immigration trends at the University of Manchester, said such positivity surrounding migration into the UK would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

He said the reasons behind the trend remained unclear but that it mirrored what he had seen in other data.

“It’s at odds with what we’ve seen about [sentiment towards] migration in the past because immigration levels are still very high, so it’s not that the public is seeing more control over numbers,” he said.


A remarkable turnaround?

Analysis box by Mark Easton, home editor

It appears Britain has changed its mind about immigration and there are three important reasons why that might have happened:

  1. The Brexit vote itself may have led some to assume that the immigration issue has been dealt with and therefore it is not seen as such a risk.
  2. The national debate on immigration during elections and the Brexit referendum may have focused people’s minds on the social, practical and economic trade-offs involved in cutting migrant numbers, resulting in a more nuanced response to the issue.
  3. The millions of European migrant workers who came to the UK after 2004 initially caused something of a culture shock in neighbourhoods unaccustomed to immigration. Now many of those arrivals have integrated into society, put down roots, formed relationships and become a familiar part of the local scene. Any culture shock has probably dissipated as migrants have made friends and started families.

The polling suggests Britain is now among the most positive countries internationally when considering immigration, alongside Australia, the US and Sweden, where the numbers responding positively had also increased.

Prof Ford suggested the political environment could be a contributory factor, with opponents of Brexit and US President Donald Trump championing the benefits of inward migration.

UK statistics showed more low-skilled migrants from central and eastern Europe leaving than arriving, he said, while settled migrants such as white collar professionals, NHS staff and highly skilled workers had become more prominent in the media.

Polling results in other countries suggested attitudes to immigration were hardening.

In South Korea, the number of people telling Ipsos-Mori they felt it was beneficial had dropped to 11%, from 27% in 2011. In Japan – the least positive nation – just 3% of respondents said it had a beneficial impact, down from 17%.

Fewer than one-in-10 people told the survey immigration was beneficial in Colombia, Turkey, Russia and Hungary, although online polls are not representative in nations where significant numbers of people do not have internet access.

Source: Crossing Divides: Has the UK changed its mind on immigration?

The complete survey, including data on Canada, can be found here: Download the slides

Key immigration-related numbers for Canada:

  • Positive impact 42 %, Negative impact 27 % – slight increase from previous years
  • Percent friends same ethnic group, almost all/over half: 27/25
  • Percent friends same religious faith or beliefs, almost all/over half: 13/15
  • Percent friends have same views on immigration, almost all/over half: 15/19

What would it have looked like if the Holocaust had come to Canada?

An interesting mix of historical fact and reasoned hypotheses of what could have happened:

There were only 52 Jews in Trois-Rivieres, Que. during the Second World War, but Nazi Germany knew.

This week, Library and Archives Canada unveiled its newest acquisition: A 137-page book once owned by Adolf Hitler that seems to represent the first outlines of a Nazi plan to bring the Holocaust to Canada. “It undoubtedly breaks the myth viewed by many at the time that the Holocaust and WWII were only Europe’s problems,” said Mina Cohn, director of the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship at Carleton University.

Canadian troops participated in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, including Bergen-Belsen. Canada also became a postwar haven for tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors. But Canada of the early 1940s was also a viciously antisemitic country with one of the world’s worst records of admitting Jewish refugees.

Below, some chilling details of what the Nazis intended to do with Canadian Jewry — and how willing Canada might have been to stop them.

The Nazis were apparently planning something for North America’s Jews
“I don’t think it’s a crazy claim to say that governments and militaries, especially during wartime, don’t do research for no reason,” said Michael Kent, the Library and Archives Canada librarian who acquired the German book. Entitled Statistics, Media, and Organizations of Jewry in the United States and Canada, the book includes a detailed accounting of Jewish newspapers and organizations in Canada, as well as a census of Canada’s Jewish population and where they could be found. Cities as small as Moose Jaw, Sask., for instance, are noted to have 96 “Juden.” The book, which appears to have been commissioned for senior Nazi leadership, is similar to other censuses that Nazi authorities used to organize the deportation and murder of Jews in occupied countries. Prior to the planned invasion of Great Britain, for instance, the SS prepared a lengthy “arrest list” of British citizens, including prominent Jews such as Sigmund Freud. Of course, a Nazi conquest of Canada would have been virtually impossible. If Nazi German forces couldn’t mount an invasion across the English Channel, it’s much more unlikely they could handle one across 4,000 kilometres of ocean. Nevertheless, the book was commissioned right around the time when Germany was dispatching saboteurs to North America, and when Nazi planners were investigating the possibility of an “Amerikabomber”; an extremely long-range bomber that could lay waste to cities such as New York.

The book was likely looted by a U.S. soldier after the Allied liberation of Berchtesgaden, site of Hitler’s mountain hideout.

France, Norway and even occupied British territories all willingly participated in the Holocaust
In occupied Norway, it was Norwegian police who organized the deportation of 772 Jews and the seizure of their property. The collaborationist Vichy regime in France started cracking down on its Jewish population even without orders from Berlin. When French Jews started being shipped to Auschwitz, the French national railway took the contract to deport them east. Even in the British Channel Islands, occupied by the Germans during the war, local authorities handed over information on Jewish residents without protest. Although none of these places would have perpetrated a genocide on their own, their collaborationist governments ultimately proved remarkably willing to comply with German demands. “Why would Canada of that time be any different from all the other western civilized counties in Europe?” said Mina Cohn. Hilary Earl, a Holocaust researcher at Nipissing University, is more skeptical. Denmark rescued almost its entire Jewish population. Fascist countries such as Spain and Italy sheltered Jews. The Netherlands strongly resisted the Holocaust, but still wound up losing a higher percentage of their Jewish population than almost anyone else. “It is impossible to know for certain what would have happened and who would have pushed back,” Earl said. “Antisemitism does not automatically beget genocide, it facilitates it for certain, but it isn’t the only factor.”

Canada was much more antisemitic than we know it now 
McGill University had quotas to limit Jewish enrollment. Toronto Island and other Ontario vacation spots brazenly featured “gentiles only” signs. Alberta premier William Aberhart openly blamed Jews for the Great Depression. Newspaper editorials in mainstream publications such a Le Devoir called Europe’s Jewish population “a very serious problem.” Prime Minister Mackenzie King was deeply antisemitic, objecting to the introduction of “foreign strains of blood” and even believing that the United States was too much in the thrall of “Jews and Jewish influence.” “The vast majority of Canadians have no lived memory of a Canada in which antisemitism was widely and legally tolerated,” wrote the authors of the groundbreaking 1983 book None is Too Many. The meticulously researched book framed Canada as having the worst record among Western democracies for accepting Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Only 5,000 Jews were admitted to Canada from 1933 to 1945, compared to 200,000 accepted by the United States and 70,000 by the U.K. Still, while Canada did not like Jews, this was far from the preconditions for participation in a genocide. “Antisemitism to a degree was universally present in the 1940s but cooperation in the Holocaust was not,” Tomaz Jardim, a Ryerson University Holocaust scholar told the National Post by email.

Canada already had a fair bit of experience with rounding up ethnic groups
During the First World War, the federal government interned 8,000 Ukrainian-Canadians and forced others to carry special identity papers. During the Second World War, more than 31,000 Italian-Canadians were forced to register as enemy aliens. West Coast authorities also forcefully rounded up Japanese-Canadians into transit centres, seized their property and then deported them to remote internment camps. Internees at the time even complained that they were being given the “same treatment the Nazi’s gave the Jews.” A French gendarme rounding up Parisian Jews for the gas chambers might have been able to take comfort in the Nazi fiction that they were simply being sent to agricultural colonies in the east. Similarly, Canadian police in the 1940s carried out mass deportation orders without full knowledge of where detainees were going. “I would hope that Canada would have proven itself to be another Denmark and resisted persecution of its Jewish population at all costs, even under extreme duress, but given the internment of Japanese-Canadians and the anti-Semitic sentiment that was widely accepted within mainstream Canadian life at the time, one can imagine a Canada engaging in anti-Jewish activity that would fill us with horror and regret today,” said Rebecca Margolis, president of the Association for Canadian Jewish Studies.

Japanese-Canadians being deported into the B.C. interior via open truck.

There were already Jews behind barbed wire on Canadian soil
During the Second World War, 2,300 Jewish men of German and Austrian origin lived in internment camps in Quebec and the Maritimes. They had come to Canada as refugees from Nazi oppression, but were detained as “enemy aliens” due to their country of origin. Had Canada fallen to Nazi occupation, these camps could have functioned as the first hubs of Canadian Final Solution. This precise scenario is what happened to the Netherlands. Shortly after the Nazi invasion of Poland, the Dutch set up Westerbork, an internment camp for the more than 400 Jewish refugees who had entered the Netherlands illegally across the German border. After Germany conquered the Netherlands in 1940, Westerbork was converted into a transit camp and its internees transferred to killing centres in occupied Poland.

Killings probably would have been carried out on Canadian soil
The Nazis prioritized efficiency above all else when it came to genocide. Initially, Jews were murdered in mass shootings conducted in open areas by German military units. Later, to assuage the psychological burden of soldiers killing hundreds of civilians per day, Nazi military scientists experimented with mobile killing vans that would asphyxiate victims with carbon monoxide. By war’s end, Nazi authorities had settled on the method of deporting Jews to centralized killing centres. The expense of moving Canadian Jews to occupied Eastern Europe would likely have been prohibitive, so German genocide planners would likely have settled on a made-in-Canada solution. “Parts of remote areas could have been turned into enormous camps where people could have been starved and left to die of the cold,” said David MacDonald, a researcher in genocide studies at the University of Guelph. At the time, the Soviet Union’s gulag system had already proven the utility of using remote northern areas to make thousands of people disappear. And Canada’s own experience of Indian Residential Schools showed that it was indeed possible for early 20th century Canadians to dig the occasional child mass grave without anybody asking all that many questions.

Source: What would it have looked like if the Holocaust had come to Canada?

Trump’s immigration policy has foreign tech talent looking north of the border

These articles keep on coming in the US press (less so in conservative medias like Fox):

Over dinner at a noodle bar, a Canadian entrepreneur pitched a table of U.S. tech executives: Your foreign workers should trade sunny California for snowy Calgary, he told them. And they listened.

Highly skilled foreign workers and the American firms that employ them are in a bit of a visa panic. President Trump has vowed to crack down on the H-1B visa program, which allows 85,000 foreigners per year to work in “specialty occupations” in the United States. But there are no new rules yet, creating climate of uncertainty and fear, particularly in Silicon Valley.

Canadian businesses sense an opportunity. The Canadian tech scene has sought for years to compete with Silicon Valley, trying to lure talent north. In the early days of the Trump administration, “moving to Canada” talk surged among Americans, but most foreign workers waited.

Now some are making the move.

Though it is hard to track how many foreign nationals have moved from the United States — the Canadian government tracks newcomers by country of citizenship, not residence — immigration lawyers and recruiters on both sides of the border say the number of inquiries from nervous H-1B holders has skyrocketed since 2017.

A small group of Canadian entrepreneurs are dropping into Silicon Valley to persuade companies that rely on foreign tech workers to move them across the border.

Irfhan Rawji, the Canadian entrepreneur trying to sell U.S. tech executives on Canada over dinner, last year founded a company called MobSquad that helps tech companies move software engineers and other highly skilled workers to Canada. He travels regularly to Silicon Valley to promote his Canadian “solution.”

“Our turnaround to bring a foreign worker to Canada is under four weeks,” he said. “It’s typically longer for them to pack up their stuff.”

For Akshaya Murali, an Indian national who spent nearly a decade in the United States working for companies such as Microsoft and Expedia, moving to Toronto meant an end to living visa to visa.

She and her family applied for permanent residence in Canada and were approved.

Her employer, Remitly, then worked with MobSquad to move her job north. MobSquad signed a contract with Remitly and then hired her to do the same job — senior product manager — for Remitly from Toronto.

MobSquad’s cut is the difference between her total compensation in pricey San Francisco and the cost of the same work in Toronto, which is lower.

Remitly’s chief product officer, Karim Meghji, said the process went so smoothly that he will probably do it again. “My next step is thinking through, ‘What else can I do in Canada?’ ” he said.

Murali landed in Toronto in October and is settling in. “It’s a nice place to bring up our son, really family-friendly,” she said. “The only thing is the weather.”

Seeking stability

Silicon Valley’s visa anxiety did not start with Trump, but his policy moves and anti-immigrant rhetoric have compounded the problem, according to tech executives, immigration lawyers and people who have moved.

Months into his presidency, Trump issued a “Buy American and Hire American” executive order that ordered the Department of Homeland Security to review the H-1B visa program with the intention of more closely vetting applicants.

In the wake of the order, there were reports of an uptick in visa denials and requests by immigration officials for additional information, turning the issue into a topic of conversation for big U.S. companies and immigrant communities alike.

In August, chief executives from top U.S. firms including Apple, Cisco and IBM sent a letter to DHS expressing concern about the changes. “Inconsistent immigration policies are unfair and discourage talented and highly skilled individuals from pursuing career options in the United States,” it said.

Asked to comment on these reported changes, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesman Michael Bars said, “Increasing our confidence in who receives benefits is a hallmark of this administration.”

Bars said proposed changes now under review would make the H-1B process more efficient and ensure the best applicants get visas.

Many have found the uncertainty over the changes to the H-1B program confusing and costly.

S. “Sundi” Sundaresh, the chief executive of Cinarra Systems, a start-up that provides location analytics based on mobile data to businesses, says getting U.S. work visas is a significant challenge.

His company employs 55 people worldwide, including 15 in the United States. He has three people on H-1Bs but would hire more if the process were easier.

Recently, an employee who was working remotely and waiting on a U.S. visa quit in frustration. When a second worker reached the same point, he started looking for options and is now talking to MobSquad about Canada. “We can’t lose a second one,” he said.

Michael Tippet, a Canadian entrepreneur who founded a company that helps U.S. firms set up satellite offices in Vancouver as a buffer against uncertainty in the United States, said highly skilled, foreign-born workers feel anxious and frustrated.

“From the company’s perspective, the primary motivation is that they can continue to attract top talent,” he said. “To have those people work for you, you have to show you’ve got their back.”

If you don’t have their back, they may leave.

Amogh Phadke, an Indian citizen with a master’s degree in computer science, an MBA and work experience at FedEx and Fannie Mae, wanted to build his life in the United States.

“I was struggling for 10 years with my immigration status,” he said. His breaking point was the Trump administration’s as-yet-unrealized threat to stop granting work visas for spouses of H-1B holders.

His wife, an Indian national who was studying in Canada, no longer wanted to join him stateside. “She said, ‘It’s here, or we are going back to India.’ ”

He decamped to Edmonton, the chilly capital of Alberta, last year.

The pitch for Canada

While the debate over immigration roils the United States, Canada’s major political parties are broadly supportive of increasing the number of immigrants, as long as they are skilled.

In 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government launched the Global Talent Stream, a program designed to fast-track work authorization for those with job offers in high-demand realms of science and tech.

Successful applicants can get a work permit in a matter of weeks. Spouses and children are eligible for work or study permits.

More than 2,000 companies have applied to hire Talent Stream workers, the department for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in an emailed statement.

With the door wide open, the Canadian government’s biggest challenge may be actually making the case for Canada.

Recent arrivals said the country is not really on the radar. When Phadke told Americans he was moving to Edmonton, they were shocked. “My colleagues were like, ‘Oh, my God, nobody lives in the middle of Canada. Are there going to be roads there?’ ”

When people heard how quickly he could move, he was met with more skepticism. “They asked, ‘Is it a scam?’ ”

“Canada is really bad at marketing itself,” said Vikram Rangnekar, a former software developer for LinkedIn who recently moved from the Bay Area to Toronto.

When he landed, he was so impressed with the city that he started writing about it. He later started Mov North, a site for people thinking about moving.

The site includes information on dressing for the cold — “The adage ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’ is entirely true” — and information about benefits like paid maternity leave. It also tries to connect software engineers with Canadian companies.

Hugo O’Doherty, an editor at Moving2Canada.com, a website catering to would-be immigrants and new arrivals, said Canada can’t often compete with Silicon Valley salaries, but that tech types make good money relative to the cost of living.

They also gain peace of mind. Noncitizens in the United States “don’t know if they will able to stay, if their spouse will be able to work, if their kids will have a pathway to citizenship,” he said. In his experience, Canada appeals to people who want stability.

For MobSquad’s Rawji, it is all about seeking out the best and brightest and putting them on a path to citizenship. “Our social mission is to change the Canadian economy,” he said.

To those wondering about their status in the United States, he says: Come north.

Source: Trump’s immigration policy has foreign tech talent looking north of the border

Canada 150 research chairs draw scientists fleeing Trump, guns and Brexit – The Globe and Mail

Continues a series of anecdotes regarding the relative attractiveness of Canada:

The day after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, Alan Aspuru-Guzik, a prominent professor of chemistry at Harvard University, picked up the phone and called Canada.

For Dr. Aspuru-Guzik, who specializes in developing advanced materials for energy generation, the 2016 result was a signal to close up shop. Born in the United States and raised in Mexico, Dr. Aspuru-Guzik has family roots that trace back to Spain, Poland and Ukraine. It’s the kind of varied background, he said, that instills a predisposed wariness of political authoritarianism and economic instability. And the Trump presidency has put his instincts on high alert.

“Many of my colleagues have told me that they will leave the United States if things get worse,” Dr. Aspuru-Guzik said. “The difference is that I already think it’s worse.”

On Thursday, Dr. Aspuru-Guzik is set to be named one of 20 newly hired Canada 150 research chairs at a briefing in Ottawa. He plans to leave his position at Harvard this summer to take up a new role at the University of Toronto, where he will continue his research and aim to spin off startup companies from his scientific work.

“Great science is all about great people. So being able to attract someone of Alan’s calibre is a coup for this country,” said Alan Bernstein, director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in Toronto. It was Dr. Bernstein who was on the other end of the line when Dr. Aspuru-Guzik made his postelection call, setting the wheels in motion for his eventual move.

A total of 25 Canada 150 research chairs will be established at Canadian universities under the one-off program, supported with $117.6-million in federal funding. Four chairholders were already named late last year, including computer scientist Margo Seltzer who, like Dr. Aspuru-Guzik, is leaving a faculty post at Harvard to come to Canada.

“I think it speaks to what Canada is doing here in science,” federal Science Minister Kirsty Duncan said. “We’re in a global competition for talent.”

Several of the appointees who spoke to The Globe and Mail before Thursday’s announcement were enthusiastic about what they perceive to be a collaborative, pro-research culture in Canada. But many also expressed a sense of relief when speaking about what they were coming from.

The haul of prominent scientists attracted to the new chairs suggests that a predicted brain gain for Canada owing to reactionary politics in the United States and elsewhere is having an impact and that scientists are indeed voting with their feet.

For example, when asked what she would be giving up by leaving North Carolina’s Duke University to come to the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Anita Layton, a biomathematician whose work relates to kidney function, summed it up in two words: gun violence.

Dr. Layton, who did her graduate work in Canada and whose parents live in Toronto, explained that her children, ages 14 and 10, have recently been in lockdown exercises at school to practise for an armed assault.

“This is their world … It’s normal life for them and I find it really sad,” she said.

Family considerations played a role in her move, but she added that Waterloo’s strong mathematics department offers just as many professional advantages as Duke, with the added benefit of $350,000 in funding tied to her research chair which ensures years of continuing support.

Funding stability was a key factor for Judith Mank, an expert in the genomics of diversity, who will be moving her laboratory from University College London to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Like that of a number of British-based researchers, Dr. Mank was thrown into turmoil by the outcome of the 2016 Brexit vote.

“I got really worried because all of our funding is from the European Union and we’re not sure if we’ll be able to access that,” she said.

At UBC, Dr. Mank will be supported by a $1-million funding tranche that goes with her top-tier Canada 150 chair.

The same amount has been allocated to the University of Saskatchewan for James Famiglietti, a hydrologist currently with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who will become the director of the university’s highly regarded Global Institute for Water Security.

Dr. Famiglietti is well known for his public appearances in the United States, particularly during California’s recent, prolonged drought and testimony before Congress. A specialist in remote sensing, he has expertise in gauging water resources from space, and the impact of climate change on those resources.

He said the real advantage he anticipates in coming to Canada is in being able to access parts of the world that are undergoing water stress but where U.S. federal employees are typically prohibited from visiting.

“The goal is to begin reaching out to the hottest of the hot spots for water scarcity around the world,” Dr. Famiglietti said.

Among the newly selected chairs are several Canadian researchers, including Katherine O’Brien, a global health vaccinologist who is heading to Dalhousie University after her 30 years at premier research facilities in the United States and around the world.

“It was the right time for me to come back,” she said, avoiding any discussion of U.S. politics.

But for Dr. Aspuru-Guzik, the motivation for his move is clear: “I believe that life is short and that I should live in a place that is consistent with my values.”

via Canada 150 research chairs draw scientists fleeing Trump, guns and Brexit – The Globe and Mail

Differences of Opinion: How Canadian and US business leaders think about gender diversity

RBC continues to do interesting research and reports on diversity issues. This Canada-United States comparison being the most recent example (and it challenges Canadian smugness about our diversity policies in the corporate sector). These two charts are particularly revealing, report recommendations follow:

1. Be aware that diversity mandates can backfire.

Surprisingly, mandatory diversity training can often have the opposite effect, increasing bias rather than eliminating it. Research over several decades has shown that corporate leaders and managers are less motivated to increase diversity if they are forced to do so. In one study, Harvard Business Review researchers who analyzed data from hundreds of US firms found that “companies get better results when they ease up on the control tactics.”

Similarly, national policies that promote gender parity, diversity, and gay rights may be viewed as controlling or policing people’s personal opinions and actions. Equal opportunity or pro-diversity legislation may make organizations “check the boxes” to advertise their compliance with the requirements, but may also make them less likely to make practical efforts to reduce gender or other types of discrimination. Rather, engaging leaders and managers to become advocates for change is more effective. Voluntary training to raise awareness, along with mentoring and coaching efforts, participation in task forces or councils, or leadership of affinity groups, works best.

2. Try more innovative solutions.

The most appropriate measures vary across industries and firms, and a decision not to adopt any specific approach cannot be interpreted as a failure. Still, our study shows that companies in both the US and Canada are using only a subset of all the potential strategies. Canadian companies tend to take fewer risks and are less likely to try innovative solutions than their US counterparts. Solutions that have been adopted less frequently in Canada than in the US may provide ideas for further action by Canadian firms. They include:

  • Job auctions or trial hiring (37% vs 43%)
  • On-the-job development activities that provide opportunities to generate business impacts (38% vs 44%)
  • Support for working parents (34% vs 43%)
  • Flex time (48% vs 52%), part-time (31% vs 35%) and childcare subsidies (27% vs 31%)
  • Assessing performance relative to gender diversity targets (37% vs 44%)

3. Build a strong business case for women in senior management.

“Fundamentally, having a workforce and a senior management team that represents the clients and communities an organization serves is both an asset and a competitive advantage,” says Jennifer Tory, Chief Administrative Officer at RBC. “Diversity of gender, thought, and background creates inclusive teams that generate better ideas and solutions. Inclusive teams are strong teams, and strong teams make better business decisions.”

4. Invest in retraining and reintegrating women into the workplace.

One of the biggest challenges in both the US and Canada is the issue of parental leave and how it affects women’s careers. The two countries differ markedly with respect to national policies. In the US, women who take maternity leave do not receive guaranteed payments from the federal government. The Family and Medical Leave Act protects their job for up to 12 weeks; some individual companies and states may offer more generous policies or a short-term disability policy that pays women during their leave of absence. By contrast, Canada is far more generous; its mandated 12-month parental leave is expected to stretch to 18 months in 2018.

In a way, that could “create unintended consequences” for women’s advancement in Canada, says the University of Toronto’s Dart. She notes that although both parents can share the leave, men are often reluctant to take time off. “In many Scandinavian countries paternity and maternity leave are mandatory. Both men and women leave the workplace for a time when they have children, so there is less of an opportunity for gender bias. It has to be mandatory. You have to make it an equal playing field.”

In Canada and other countries where equal parental leave is not mandated, being away from the job for so long could be detrimental to women’s careers, she adds. “Women step out, often because of family pressure, and find it very difficult if they want to come back later on. They have lost their professional networks and they don’t know if their skills are up-to-date. Many companies don’t actively work on bringing women back to work; it is easier to advance the women who have stuck it out.”

5. Make a concerted effort to change societal perceptions.

Here’s where male role models, influencers, pressure groups, and governments play a big part. “With regard to progressing in their career, women are working really hard, but they need networks and sponsorship much earlier in their career,” says Jennifer Reynolds, CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA), a public-private partnership that supports the financial services industry. “We need to actively challenge senior management on that, and we have to have men in this dialogue.”

Dart advocates going even further. “There is a very large gap in the middle part of the pipeline,” she says. “There’s always more commitment that we need to see in senior leaders. We need more CEOs and board chairs to advance their support of women. But this battle is not lost at the corporate front. This battle is lost at the home front. The expectations of women, the roles they are supposed to play, are different in different cultures. That’s where we need to start: changing role expectations.”

Source: Download Here

Ethnic Outbidding for White People: A Story About Populism in Canada Versus the United States – NYTimes

http://www.nytimes.com/newsletters/2017/08/23/the-interpreter?nlid=5411894

Not much new but good overview and reminder to NYTimes readers that we too have our dark side:

Breitbart News, the online news site often associated with the alt-right, has grown so powerful that when its former editor, Stephen K. Bannon, lost his White House job last week, it was widely assumed that Breitbart’s influence would only grow.

As this was happening, across the border in Canada, another right-wing media organization known as Rebel Media, which is often compared to Breitbart News, was imploding so severely it was seen as potentially auguring the implosion of Canadian right-wing populism itself.

The shift in Canada reveal something important about one of the biggest stories of the last year, events initially described as a “global populist wave.” Though the wave was later qualified down to just right-wing populism and just in Western countries, it increasingly looks even narrower than that.

The decline of Rebel Media, contrasted with the success of Breitbart, exemplifies something we’ve been saying for a while. The “populist wave” is actually quite specific to individual countries. And, most important, in each Western country where it appears, right-wing populism enjoys support among only about 15 to 25 percent of the population. (Those numbers are based vaguely on a 2016 study by the political scientists Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris.)

Whether that fractional support becomes an isolated fringe or a major political power comes down not to anything as fuzzy as culture or values, but to nuts-and-bolts political institutions.

It’s worth running through the sordid details of Rebel Media’s bad week. Faith Goldy, a correspondent, praised Charlottesville’s white nationalist marchers in a live video from the scene. Her video referenced “white racial consciousness” and the “JQ,” shorthand for the “Jewish question.”

A national backlash eventually led the site’s founder, Ezra Levant, to fire Ms. Goldy. But something had changed, maybe for good, with Rebel Media’s place in Canadian politics.

Conservative politicians openly denounced the organization. Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Conservative party, said he wouldn’t give Rebel Media any more interviews until it changed its “editorial direction.”

High-profile staffers and contributors quit. One, Caolan Robertson, released a video accusing Rebel Media of exploiting its supporters for donations it didn’t need. Mr. Robertson also accused Mr. Levant of offering him money to keep quiet. (Mr. Levant has accused Mr. Robertson of attempted blackmail.)

But Canadian journalists see broader forces at work. Jonathan Kay, in an article for The Walrus, wrote that Rebel Media failed in its mission to become the American Fox News or Breitbart because, in Canada, “structural barriers make the creation of this kind of conservative ecosystem impossible.”

Americans generally understand that politics work a bit differently in Canada, but wrongly assume Canadians are simply predisposed to be more liberal. In fact, those “structural barriers” against right-wing populism are more technical, and less particular to Canada, than you might think.

Amanda explained those structural barriers in an in-depth article this summer. The short version: Canadian politicians and civil society groups spent two generations engineering their political system to be highly tolerant of diversity and highly intolerant of something called ethnic outbidding.

Stephen Saideman, a political scientist and friend of the column, has defined ethnic outbidding as “when politicians compete for the support of a particular ethnic group, leading to ever greater demands to protect that group at the expense of others.”

This process can turn politics into a zero-sum competition between ethnic groups who come to see one another as threats. Right-wing populism, in the West, can often function as a kind of ethnic outbidding for white people.

If you want to know how Canada did this and why so many other diverse countries have failed, read Amanda’s story. Of course, we’re not denying that racism and right-wing populist politicians exist in Canada. Rob Ford became Toronto’s mayor after running on a populist platform. But, compared to the rest of the West, the country stands out for its resistance to populism. (And even Mr. Ford cultivated a multi-ethnic voter base.)

That resistance happens through institutions, and you see them working, for example, in Mr. Scheer’s disavowal of Rebel Media. Before any liberal readers rush to award Mr. Scheer a medal of courage, you should know that he was acting within his immediate political interests.

Political norms in Canada are unusually intolerant of overt white nationalism, which has strong and increasingly open support in the United States and much of Europe. The country’s electoral and legislative systems make it very difficult for a party to win power without heavy support from racial minorities.

And Rebel Media’s power, even before this week, was waning. This spring, when some politicians embraced Rebel Media, seeking to reproduce populists’ successes elsewhere, those candidates instead found defeat.

This summer, when reporting for Amanda’s story, we visited a Rebel Media conference in Toronto. Though we had only stopped by for the day, it was clear that this was a movement on the decline.

In a long and thoughtful article on Rebel Media, Richard Warnica of The National Post wrote that Mr. Levant, intentionally or not, is “forcing people to pick a side.”“

Nothing The Rebel did this week, as Conservatives and contributors edged away, was substantially different from what it had done two months ago, or six months ago or last year,” Mr. Warnica added.

What changed is Canada’s conservative establishment, which rejected Rebel Media. That is a marked difference from the conservative establishment in Britain, which embraced populism, or the conservative establishments in the United States and France, which tried to reject populism but instead were overcome by it.

The story of Rebel Media is of course a story of personalities and what unfolded between them. But it is also, like just about every major news story from the last year, a story about institutions.

Canadian tech companies say they value diversity — but what are they doing about it? 

Good and needed reporting – particularly surprised with the lack of response of the larger companies (to be fair, Blackberry had bigger survival issues):

After U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January blocking citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S., a long list of Canadian tech companies signed a pledge opposing the ban.

Members of Canada’s tech community saw Trump’s move as a rejection of the diversity on which they felt their industry was built and decided to speak out.

“We believe that this diversity is a source of strength and opportunity,” read the open letter admonishing the ban, which was signed by executives and employees from some of the most well-known companies in the country — BlackBerry, Hootsuite, Shopify and more.

But when CBC News sought to gauge what this commitment to diversity looks like in practice, Canada’s tech community had remarkably little to say.

In May, we asked 31 Canadian technology companies if they collected data on the diversity of their employees, and if so, whether they would share this data with CBC News.

Only two companies — OTTO Motors, the commercial division of Waterloo, Ont.-based Clearpath Robotics, a maker of self-driving warehouse robots, and the Toronto-based investing app Wealthsimple — were willing to do so.

A third company, the Toronto-based online retail marketing startup Hubba, said it was preparing to conduct its first diversity survey and release the results in the coming month. It expects to publish a report on its progress every six months thereafter.

The sheer number of holdouts came as a surprise to Y-Vonne Hutchinson, founder of Oakland, Calif.-based diversity solutions firm ReadySet, in particular, given the number of U.S. companies that have published annual reports since 2014.

“It does make me question their commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Hutchinson, who is also on the team behind Project Include, which guides tech startups toward more diverse and inclusive practices. The project’s founding members include well-known diversity advocates such as Ellen Pao and Tracy Chou.

“By publishing these numbers, you increase transparency and accountability around how the organization looks and the way in which it prioritizes diversity and inclusion,” Hutchinson said.

Mostly white, mostly male

Many companies in tech and beyond have realized the key to building successful products and services is to have a range of employees — ones who think and look differently from one another — working together to solve problems.

The idea is that employees with varying backgrounds and skills can bring unique perspectives that aren’t necessarily represented by the tech sectors white, male majority.

That’s where diversity reports can help. One way for a company to better understand the types of people it employs — and where the gaps are — is to quantify that information and use it to build more diverse teams.

But that’s not to say measuring the problem alone leads to change. As recently as 2016, we learned that just 145 of Facebook’s nearly 8,500 employees are black. We learned that 12 per cent of Apple employees are Hispanic, versus just four per cent at Google.

And we learned that Uber has an engineering department where only 15 per cent of employees are women — a telling statistic for a company still smarting from a searing indictment of its workplace culture by one of its former engineers and the sexual harassment investigations launched in its wake.

Among the industry’s biggest players, there has been little progress in recent years.

Diversity reports also don’t include as much information as some would like — for example, how long employees stay, which can tell a story of its own, or how many employees are disabled or identify as LGTBQ. In their most basic form, they typically provide a snapshot of how tech’s most-influential companies are doing across job categories in terms of gender and race.

Yet in Canada, there have been no comparable public efforts to date.

Little to say

The companies approached by CBC News ranged from some of the largest and well-known in the country — including BlackBerry, Shopify and Hootsuite — to up-and-coming players such as ecobee, Thalmic and Breather.

We sent each company the following questions:

  • Does your company collect data on the diversity of your employees?
  • ​How is this data collected?
  • Why do you collect this data?
  • Can you provide your company’s most recently collected diversity data to CBC News?
  • Can you offer any details about programs/initiatives to support diversity and inclusion at your company?

The overwhelming majority of companies declined to participate while two of the biggest names in Canadian tech, BlackBerry and Hootsuite, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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E-commerce company Shopify said it was still analyzing its employee data and was hoping to have more information to share by the fall “or early next year.”

Others, such as the messaging app Kik and the satellite imaging company Urthecast, said they didn’t have the resources to collect this sort of information and would not say how long it would take to do so.

Many more, including ecobee, Wave, WattPad, Vision Critical, Lightspeed, Bench, TopHat, Vidyard, Sandvine and Hopper, said they didn’t formally collect diversity information.

Source: Canadian tech companies say they value diversity — but what are they doing about it? – Technology & Science – CBC News