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.

Donald: Give us your wired masses, yearning to breathe free

Intriguing idea of Scott Gilmore (have seen similar suggestions from India and Europe):

Two historic developments have aligned to create a momentary and monumental opportunity for Canada.

First, we are weathering a global pandemic that has dramatically changed the way the world works. Suddenly, we are all discovering that the technology exists to allow many of us to work remotely, and to continue to be effective doing so. In fact, experts are predicting a sizeable portion of the workforce will choose not to return to the office when this is over.

At the same time, a tide of nationalism has risen in many western countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States. There, governments are making it increasingly difficult for immigrants to arrive or to stay.

For example, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that cancels the H-1B visa category, which permits highly skilled workers, who have already been offered a job by an American company, to live and work in the United States. American economists and CEOs are horrified at the decision. Without these well-trained immigrants, Silicon Valley would still be pastureland.

And here is Canada’s golden opportunity: we should immediately offer residency to all 85,000 holders of H-1B visas, permitting them to live in Canada while they work remotely for their current employers in the United States.

The benefits to Canada are numerous and obvious. To begin with, this would not take any existing jobs from Canadians. There are legitimate (albeit mostly misplaced) concerns that our current unemployment crisis would be exacerbated by increased immigration. Holders of this visa would be permitted to remain only if they have a full-time job in the United States (or another foreign country) that can be performed remotely.

It would give Canada an instant boost in revenue. These new arrivals might be working in the U.S., but they’d be paying their taxes and spending their paycheques here. Our services industry is in desperate need of a boost, and with international travel facing a long recovery, relying on foreign tourism will not be enough. We can replace that by effectively transplanting billions in household spending that is currently rooted south of the border.

This new visa class would be a tremendous boost to our pool of creative and productive talent. Canada has traditionally been a runner up when it comes to attracting the world’s best and brightest. This has gradually been changing, but this new visa could accelerate the shift. We would inject some of the world’s brightest minds into our cities, and if the visa provided a pathway for citizenship, we could hold on to that talent and all the benefits it would bring.

As many public policy experts, demographers, economists and others have pointed out, we need more Canadians. We have an ageing population that will produce relatively less tax revenue to support a growing number of elderly people. And if we want to achieve our full potential, we need a critical mass of talented citizens to do so. This is an argument that has been best made by Globe and Mail writer Doug Saunders in his recent book ‘Maximum Canada’. This visa class is one of the easiest paths towards that goal. The U.S. government has basically pre-screened all these immigrants, vetted them for security and health issues, confirmed they are employable, and socialized them to living in a western democracy. We should be paying Washington for the privilege of taking these people off their hands.

This visa would be an obvious blessing for the would-be immigrants. Unwelcome in the U.S. and facing unemployment, they will be greeted warmly here and allowed to continue to do their work and even remain in the same time zone. What’s more, they will benefit from Canada’s high quality of life, and excellent (but improvable) health-care system.

They will also discover that the American Dream has moved north. Compared to the United States, Canada now has higher rates of employment, education and homeownership. We even have longer lives and more vacation days. And while working from home is not ideal, all of our major cities now have ample shared workspace facilities.

This visa is even good for American employers. First and foremost, they get to keep their talent. And, they would no longer have to pay extravagant health insurance costs. Even Donald Trump would welcome this move. In his mind, out of sight is out of mind and these would be just one less class of immigrants to worry about.

We could call this an IWFC: an International Work From Canada visa and offer it to more than just H-1B candidates. If someone has a high paying job in Paris that they can do on their laptop from Montreal, why wouldn’t we want them to do so? It is a new world, and we need to look at it from a new angle. As the global workforce shifts to tele-commuting, the idea of living in Whistler while managing a marketing team in San Jose is not only possible, it is logical.

If Canada were to seize this opportunity, we would have to do it fast. Other countries are likely considering something similar. Who wouldn’t? And, the American election is just months away. The political landscape could shift, and this incredible pool of talent might be allowed to remain in the U.S. Let’s act before then, let’s bring them home to Canada, before someone else puts out their own welcome mat first.

Source: Donald: Give us your wired masses, yearning to breathe free

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

Of course technology perpetuates racism. It was designed that way.

Interesting observations of how technology embeds biases and prejudices and the related risks:

Today the United States crumbles under the weight of two pandemics: coronavirus and police brutality.

Both wreak physical and psychological violence. Both disproportionately kill and debilitate black and brown people. And both are animated by technology that we design, repurpose, and deploy—whether it’s contact tracing, facial recognition, or social media.

We often call on technology to help solve problems. But when society defines, frames, and represents people of color as “the problem,” those solutions often do more harm than good. We’ve designed facial recognition technologies that target criminal suspects on the basis of skin color. We’ve trained automated risk profiling systems that disproportionately identify Latinx people as illegal immigrants. We’ve devised credit scoring algorithms that disproportionately identify black people as risks and prevent them from buying homes, getting loans, or finding jobs.

So the question we have to confront is whether we will continue to design and deploy tools that serve the interests of racism and white supremacy,

Of course, it’s not a new question at all.

Uncivil rights

In 1960, Democratic Party leaders confronted their own problem: How could their presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy, shore up waning support from black people and other racial minorities?

An enterprising political scientist at MIT, Ithiel de Sola Pool, approached them with a solution. He would gather voter data from earlier presidential elections, feed it into a new digital processing machine, develop an algorithm to model voting behavior, predict what policy positions would lead to the most favorable results, and then advise the Kennedy campaign to act accordingly. Pool started a new company, the Simulmatics Corporation, and executed his plan. He succeeded, Kennedy was elected, and the results showcased the power of this new method of predictive modeling.

Racial tension escalated throughout the 1960s. Then came the long, hot summer of 1967. Cities across the nation burned, from Birmingham, Alabama, to Rochester, New York, to Minneapolis Minnesota, and many more in between. Black Americans protested the oppression and discrimination they faced at the hands of America’s criminal justice system. But President Johnson called it “civil disorder,” and formed the Kerner Commission to understand the causes of “ghetto riots.” The commission called on Simulmatics.

As part of a DARPA project aimed at turning the tide of the Vietnam War, Pool’s company had been hard at work preparing a massive propaganda and psychological campaign against the Vietcong. President Johnson was eager to deploy Simulmatics’s behavioral influence technology to quell the nation’s domestic threat, not just its foreign enemies. Under the guise of what they called a “media study,” Simulmatics built a team for what amounted to a large-scale surveillance campaign in the “riot-affected areas” that captured the nation’s attention that summer of 1967.

Three-member teams went into areas where riots had taken place that summer. They identified and interviewed strategically important black people. They followed up to identify and interview other black residents, in every venue from barbershops to churches. They asked residents what they thought about the news media’s coverage of the “riots.” But they collected data on so much more, too: how people moved in and around the city during the unrest, who they talked to before and during, and how they prepared for the aftermath. They collected data on toll booth usage, gas station sales, and bus routes. They gained entry to these communities under the pretense of trying to understand how news media supposedly inflamed “riots.” But Johnson and the nation’s political leaders were trying to solve a problem. They aimed to use the information that Simulmatics collected to trace information flow during protests to identify influencers and decapitate the protests’ leadership.

They didn’t accomplish this directly. They did not murder people, put people in jail, or secretly “disappear” them.

But by the end of the 1960s, this kind of information had helped create what came to be known as “criminal justice information systems.” They proliferated through the decades, laying the foundation for racial profiling, predictive policing, and racially targeted surveillance. They left behind a legacy that includes millions of black and brown women and men incarcerated.

Reframing the problem

Blackness and black people. Both persist as our nation’s—dare I say even our world’s—problem. When contact tracing first cropped up at the beginning of the pandemic, it was easy to see it as a necessary but benign health surveillance tool. The coronavirus was our problem, and we began to design new surveillance technologies in the form of contact tracing, temperature monitoring, and threat mapping applications to help address it.

But something both curious and tragic happened. We discovered that black people, Latinx people, and indigenous populations were disproportionately infected and affected. Suddenly, we also became a national problem; we disproportionately threatened to spread the virus. That was compounded when the tragic murder of George Floyd by a white police officer sent thousands of protesters into the streets. When the looting and rioting started, we—black people—were again seen as a threat to law and order, a threat to a system that perpetuates white racial power. It makes you wonder how long it will take for law enforcement to deploy those technologies we first designed to fight covid-19 to quell the threat that black people supposedly pose to the nation’s safety.

If we don’t want our technology to be used to perpetuate racism, then we must make sure that we don’t conflate social problems like crime or violence or disease with black and brown people. When we do that, we risk turning those people into the problems that we deploy our technology to solve, the threat we design it to eradicate.

Immigration Policies Threaten American Competitiveness

Interesting Harvard Business School alumni survey regarding perceived undermining of US competitiveness by Trump administration policies:

It is no secret that immigration has reshaped American innovation. Immigrants are the backbone of America’s most innovative industries, provide a quarter of our patent applications, and are numerous among our science and engineering superstars.

Taken from World Intellectual Property Organization data (Miguelez and Fink, 2013), Figure 1 shows that America received more than half of migrating inventors from 2000-2010.

Figure 1: Migration of inventors, 2000-2010
Figure 1: Migration of inventors, 2000-2010

 

Immigrants can be found in times of success and times of crisis. Examples include:

  • Among the American companies leading the race toward a vaccine to end the COVID-19 pandemic is Moderna, a Cambridge company with an immigrant co-founder and an immigrant CEO.
  • Another firm already conducting vaccine trials is Inovio Pharmaceuticals of Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, led by cofounder J. Joseph Kim. Kim, who came to the United States from South Korea at age 11 without speaking English, was among the pharmaceutical leaders who briefed President Trump on vaccine development in March.

The flow of global talent responsible for bringing these innovators to American shores has been a substantial driver of business creation. As I discuss in my book The Gift of Global Talent, skilled immigration is the world’s most precious resource.

Talent flows to where it’s needed

But talent is movable, and the United States must cherish and protect its prized position at the center of the global talent flow. At a time of crisis when fear is used to shift blame onto outsiders, America is at risk of signaling to global innovators and entrepreneurs, and the promising students who will one day become them, that they cannot have a future here.

Talent flows to where it is most productively utilized and welcome, and while the destination of choice has long been the United States, other countries are increasingly challenging America’s dominance.

“TALENT IS MOVABLE, AND THE UNITED STATES MUST CHERISH AND PROTECT ITS PRIZED POSITION AT THE CENTER OF THE GLOBAL TALENT FLOW.”

By some metrics, their efforts are succeeding. Between 1990 and 2010, America’s share of college-educated migrants within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development nations fell from about 50 percent to 40 percent.

Our recent research captures business leaders’ rising anxiety about America’s complacency in competing for this talent and the negative impact on America’s competitiveness that could result. We surveyed(pdf) thousands of Harvard Business School alumni for their views on immigration.

Our alumni were overwhelmingly supportive of skilled immigration. Over 90 percent said that foreign skilled workers have a positive effect on the US economy, and 87 percent believe that the United States should allow more highly skilled immigrants to move here to work and live (see Figures 2 and 3).

Figure 2: Net agreement for belief statements about immigration
Figure 2: Net agreement for belief statements about immigration

 

Figure 3: Alumni views of immigration system and politics
Figure 3: Alumni views of immigration system and politics

Alumni also confirmed the importance of foreign skilled workers to their companies’ ability to compete. Nearly one in four said that at least 15 percent of their companies’ US-based skilled workforce was foreign born. Alumni expressed that immigrants were critical for developing better products and services, increasing the quality of innovation, and reaching international customers.

Our alumni warned us, however, that this important competitive advantage is at risk. A majority believe the current political rhetoric around immigration is harming their organization’s ability to attract foreign skilled workers. Nearly 60 percent blamed the US immigration system for causing project delays. And over two-thirds reported that their companies’ operations would be harmed if denied access to foreign skilled workers.

Because immigration is often a political third rail, there are many reasons to be skeptical that the United States will soon find a broad solution. In fact, when it comes to skilled immigration, our research shows more support for minor changes to the current system than for more fundamental reforms. Over two-thirds of alumni supported increasing the number of new H-1B visas issued each year by at least 50 percent. For much of the past decade, H-1B visas have run out within a single week (see Figure 4). Despite even the COVID-19 pandemic, the government received 275,000 applications in March of this year for the 85,000 slots in fiscal year 2021.

Figure 4: Months to reach H-1B visa cap by fiscal year
Figure 4: Months to reach H-1B visa cap by fiscal year

Structural changes, such as adopting wage ranking for awarding H-1B visas in place of today’s lottery system, did not achieve much support among our alumni. The gap between alumni believing the existing immigration system is harming their businesses and alumni only supporting incremental change is surprising to us. It is unclear whether this reveals a lack of knowledge or actual uneasiness about the policies themselves.

American competitiveness at risk

Either way, the stakes get higher in times of crisis: the recent H-1B visa lottery would have given the same chances to a critical researcher being recruited by Moderna and Inovio (or J&J and GlaxoSmithKline) as it would have to a software code tester working at an outsourcing company.

“WHILE WE MAY TEMPORARILY CLOSE BORDERS AS WE FIGHT COVID-19, BUSINESS MUST ARTICULATE JUST HOW DISASTROUS CLOSING OUR BORDERS LONG-TERM WOULD BE.”

One striking finding was that our alumni were in broad agreement over increasing the allocation of employment-based immigrants within the overall US immigration pool. When asked what share of total immigration to the United States should be employment-based, alumni on average proposed to quadruple today’s 12 percent share. When we surveyed a representative sample of the general public on this same question, we found a similar result—they proposed to triple the share of employment-based immigrants. That result held across all political affiliations, with both Democrats and Republicans proposing to increase the employment-based allotment.

Implementing such a shift could be quite politically controversial depending upon technique, especially if policies shifted visas from family-based channels and diversity programs rather than creating new employment-based visas. But we believe there is a path forward. We can build momentum by getting started with simpler actions like wage ranking H-1B applicants and creating immigrant entrepreneur visas. These quick wins can be stepping-stones towards further reform by proving that we can change our system for the better, despite decades of intransigence.

Most importantly, business leaders should get involved and share the burden with policymakers and academics to educate voters and build support for these policies that ultimately benefit America’s business community.

While we may temporarily close borders as we fight COVID-19, business must articulate just how disastrous closing our borders long-term would be. Some of the recent political rhetoric to halt all immigration, even if later scaled back in practice, endangers the image of America as a welcoming beacon to the next generation of scientists and entrepreneurs. Other countries are creating innovative new programs to attract talent and threaten our competitive advantage, while our government issues executive orders and espouses rhetoric that undermine our promise to the world’s brightest.

Our position at the center of global talent flows is now at risk. Business has both the pressing need, and the capacity, to accept this responsibility. It should.

About the Author

William R. Kerr William Kerr is the D’Arbeloff Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Source: Immigration Policies Threaten American Competitiveness

Canada Wins, U.S. Loses In Global Fight For High-Tech Workers

The latest article on the “Canadian advantage:”

Hundreds of tech workers pack an auditorium for a recent networking event in Toronto. The evening’s host glides around the room on a hoverboard, equal parts game show host and tech bro.

“Who here is new to Canada?” asks Jason Goldlist, the co-founder of TechToronto, an organization that helps newcomers navigate the city’s fast-growing tech ecosystem.

Dozens of hands shoot up in the air — one belonging to Alok Chitnis, who moved to Canada last year. Chitnis is originally from India. He went to graduate school in the U.S. and found a job in Colorado. But last May, he moved to Canada to launch his own startup.

“It’s vibrant. It’s very welcoming for immigrants,” Chitnis says. “There are a lot of services by the government to help newcomer entrepreneurs especially. So the whole ecosystem is pretty welcoming compared to the U.S.”

If there is a war for global tech talent, right now Canada is winning — and the U.S. may be losing its edge. Toronto saw the biggest growth in technology jobs of any North American city over the past five years, outpacing San Francisco, New York and Seattle. Vancouver also made the top five.

The tech industry across Canada is booming. And one of the biggest reasons is U.S. immigration policy. The Trump administration has made it harder for high-skilled workers to get visas. It also has blocked entrepreneurs from some majority-Muslim countries altogether under the travel ban, which it’s moving to expand to more countries.

Canada, meanwhile, has been making it easier for tech workers to immigrate there. A new streamlined visa in Canada has brought in more than 40,000 tech workers from around the world in the past two years alone.

“While the States has gone, ‘Let’s make it difficult to get the employees here on a visa,’ Canada’s gone the exact opposite, and it’s beneficial for Canada,” says Alex Norman, the other co-founder of TechToronto. “You had a fast-growing ecosystem here that’s been getting a shot of steroids.”

Under the Trump administration, high-skilled workers are getting rejected at a higher rate. In 2015, 92% of new H-1B visa applications were approved. But in the last two years, the approval rate dipped to only 75%.

Immigration authorities say they’re trying to ensure that companies follow the rules. Employers are required to show that hiring a foreign worker will not hurt Americans.

“You know, I have a high regard — as does the president — for protecting U.S. workers,” said Ken Cuccinelli, who was then the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in an interview last year.

Cuccinelli was asked about the need to crack down on fraud and abuse. “The H-1B program has been controversial in this regard,” he said. “And it is concerning.”

Meanwhile, U.S. tech companies complain that they can’t find enough qualified candidates to fill all their open jobs.

More than a dozen hiring managers from tech startups recently squeezed into a private dining room at Del Posto, a high-end New York City restaurant. One of them was Susan Riskin, the head of human resources at Bitly, which is well-known for making Web addresses shorter.

“We doubled the size of our technology team in the last year,” Riskin said. “And we feel like we have exhausted New York and Denver. And now it’s like we’re trying to figure out where to go next, what we need to do.”

All of the hiring managers at the table were confronting a similar problem. They came for the New York strip steak and Italian wine — but also to hear a business pitch from Irfhan Rawji, the founder of a Canadian company called MobSquad.

“If you’d rather fill a job than go without, call us,” Rawji said. “We’ll open a virtual subsidiary for you in Canada. You get access to the world.”

Rawji’s pitch, in a nutshell, is this: Say your firm wants to hire an international tech worker, but the worker’s visa application is rejected or the application process is dragging on for months.

“The next-best solution to keeping them here in the U.S., if you can’t do that, is to put them in Canada,” Rawji said. “The flights are an hour and a half to two hours. It’s the same business culture. And we try to match or beat the total cost for you here.”

U.S. tech companies have long relied on a steady stream of engineers and software developers from China, India and elsewhere. The process of getting an H-1B visa was often expensive and slow, says Meagan Soszynski, the head of human resources for an advertising app called Yieldmo. But at least it was predictable.

“You followed a certain process, you paid a premium, but you pretty much always got the outcome that you wanted,” says Soszynski.

She says that’s not the case anymore.

“In the last year, I would say every one of my H-1B cases have been met with some sort of delay,” Soszynski says. “So the immigration changes are certainly being felt by us on the front lines.”

The U.S. remains a popular destination for international workers. The number of applicants for H-1B visas stills exceed the annual cap of 85,000. But in recent years, fewer are applying.

“The biggest thing that’s going to hurt the U.S. competitiveness is the overall rhetoric or tone” on immigration, says William Kerr, a professor at Harvard Business School and the author of The Gift of Global Talent, who also serves on the board of MobSquad.

“If you think about migration, people are making a choice to come and invest in their lives, whether for school or for work, and they want to have long-term opportunities,” Kerr says. “And the uncertainty and the hostility really dampen that enthusiasm.”

President Trump says he understands the problem.

“We have to allow smart people to stay in our country,” Trump said in an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News this month.

“We don’t have enough of them. And we have to be competitive with the rest of the world too,” Trump said.

But global tech workers say the Trump administration’s policies make the U.S. less attractive.

Ozge Yoluk started a new job in Toronto this month. She was born in Turkey and studied in Europe. Yoluk worked as a postdoctoral researcher in computational biology at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She says the field is “like playing video games” — except in these games, the characters are proteins and experimental drugs.

The company she joined, ProteinQure, is using tech to design new treatments. Pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. are doing similar work. But Yoluk says she didn’t even bother applying for those jobs.

“Getting a visa in the U.S. is not easy,” Yoluk says. “And it’s really costly, not just for the companies but also for the person itself.”

Yoluk says the higher rejection rate for work visas has made U.S. companies more reluctant to sponsor foreign workers — and foreign workers more reluctant to go through the process.

“I said I will not waste my time applying for positions in the States,” Yoluk said. “Whereas in Canada, the process was easy.”

Yoluk says she got her Canadian visa approved in about two weeks. She didn’t even need a lawyer to navigate the process.

A few blocks away, I met Milad Zabihi at a coffee shop in downtown Toronto. Zabihi is the CEO of a startup called Peekage, which helps companies target customers. Zabihi immigrated to Canada from Iran. Several of the company’s other co-founders are also Iranian.

“We are a bunch of friends from university time,” Zabihi says. “We were thinking of like, you know, starting something new.”

Zabihi says they wanted to locate this new venture in the United States. But then, Trump’s travel ban blocked most immigrants and visitors from Iran and several other Muslim-majority countries.

“Everyone’s like, OK, the U.S. is not an option,” Zabihi says. “Especially we like, you know, what is happening right now with the new administration and Islam. So we were basically thinking of, like, what would be the best next option.”

Now big U.S. tech firms are following global tech workers north of the border.

Google, Microsoft, Intel and Uber have either opened or announced plans for new offices in Canada.

“Toronto’s now the fastest-growing tech city in North America,” said Yung Wu, the CEO of the MaRS Discovery District, a technology hub in Toronto that’s home to 150 tech startups. It takes up most of a city block, with multiple buildings connected by a soaring glass atrium.

Wu says the Toronto tech industry has been growing for a while. But the U.S. immigration crackdown accelerated that growth.

“Look, every time Trump tweets, we get another sort of injection, which is all good from my perspective,” Wu says. “Companies are locating here because they can get access to foreign talent faster.”

Wu says hiring the right people at the right time can be the difference between a company that succeeds and one that doesn’t.

Canada is betting on it.

Source: Canada Wins, U.S. Loses In Global Fight For High-Tech Workers

Canada’s work force needs to take hold of its immigration advantage

Another business perspective on elements of the “Canadian advantage” for highly skilled immigrants:

The global economy is going through a profound transformation.

Game-changing technology is driving the digital era, causing many industries to reshape and reform. Real-world applications of artificial intelligence, AR/VR and machine learning are disrupting everything from how we shop, how we manufacture, even to how we mine.

It is also radically redefining how we work and what skills are needed – and these new and increasingly specialized skill sets are in chronic short supply.

While our colleges and universities are doing a good job producing much needed graduates in fields such as robotics, data and analytics, blockchain and AI, they simply can’t keep up with the growth in demand.

This growing skill gap is a drag on business and a drag on economic growth. Organizations around the world are being forced to look beyond their borders to attract workers to propel their businesses forward. But at a time when many countries are turning inward and tightening their borders, it is getting increasingly difficult to do so.

On this front, Canada’s approach to attracting workers with these in-demand skills stands out.

Our current immigration system was built on the belief that improving the entry of in-demand foreign workers would help employers scale up, boost revenues and ultimately create new jobs for Canadians.

This model has worked well and, as we saw recently, the OECD called Canada’s system the benchmark for other countries, noting we lead the OECD with the highest share of highly educated foreign-born entrants. In particular, it praised Canada’s immigration system for the way it chooses which workers to admit as well as its pre- and post-arrival supports.

But Canada could do even more to protect and leverage our advantage in attracting the world’s brightest and best workers. In addition to the strength of our immigration processes, we also have a global reputation for being a welcome place for newcomers.

Business leaders need to stand up for and embrace the continued importance of immigration to the Canadian economy and society.

Canada’s strength as a country – present, past and future – is directly tied to attracting and embracing newcomers. Immigration powers our economy and makes our society one of the most desired in the world. With a rapidly aging population, immigration is more important than ever.

As the child of immigrants myself, I know the journey can be rocky at times – change always is – but I also understand what Canada means to immigrants, and what immigrants mean to this country. Like most newcomers, my parents were extremely grateful for the opportunities Canada provided and worked hard to ensure I understood how lucky I was to have this chance.

We need to be clear with businesses that are searching for much needed high-skill workers that the answer is Canada.

We already have many of the key components needed to attract high-tech businesses, such as high quality of life, solid infrastructure, low corporate tax rates and significant tax benefits for research and development activities.

Our tech super clusters also provide opportunities to partner with Canadian academic and research institutions to develop ideas and talent.

KPMG has been working with a number of organizations, particularly in the technology industry, that are looking to expand their operations and are beginning to recognize that Canada’s progressive immigration system can help address their talent challenges.

The key questions we ask each organization include:

  • Is your organization able to access foreign talent fast enough and with certainty to meet your current business needs and growth objectives?
  • Do foreign nationals working at your operations feel confident that they can obtain permanent residence status in a reasonable period of time for themselves and their families to remain long term?
  • Does the foreign talent pool that you are seeking to recruit feel comfortable that they will be welcomed as foreign workers and future immigrants in the countries you are based?

For many, the answer to all these questions is “no” when looking anywhere else but Canada.

With our reputation for openness and building on our history, Canada has an immense opportunity to expand our digital economy by building on our talent advantage – to attract the world’s best people and companies.

Doing so will drive innovation, create more high-quality jobs and reverse the brain drain.

Source: Canada’s work force needs to take hold of its immigration advantage

Trump’s immigration policies are causing corporate employee revolts

Of note:

Employees at several big companies, including Google and Whole Foods, are revolting against their bosses for accepting work from government agencies that enforce the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

Why it matters: The immigration debate has become so polarizing under President Trump that companies are now finding themselves at odds with their workforces for being involved at any level with the immigration enforcement process.

Driving the news: Employees at Google circulated a petition Wednesday demanding that Google publicly commit not to support government agencies that engage in practices they feel amount to “human rights abuses.”

  • The petition calls for Google not to provide any “infrastructure, funding, or engineering resources, directly or indirectly” for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). They’re worried because CBP is looking for a contractor to provide cloud computing services.
  • Whole Foods employees demanded this week that Amazon, their parent company, cut ties with Palantir, a government contractor that’s being called out for its work with ICE.
  • Ogilvy, a global PR agency, was forced to confront angry employees at a town hall meeting last month over a multi-million dollar contract with CBP. The agency’s CEO wrote to staffers in late July that the agency would continue to do work with the agency, despite employee backlash.

Between the lines: Even companies that are far removed from the government are under fire for ties to immigration.

  • In June, Wayfair workers protested the company’s furniture sales to an immigration detention camp. The tension between employees and the company spooked investors too, with Wayfair’s stock taking a hit as employees protested.
  • Axios’ Ina Fried reported in July that a nonprofit group slammed Palantir for its ties to government agencies in a study that details all corporate ties to CBP vendors.

Be smart: More than ever, there is pressure on corporations and their leadership to stand up for social issues that their costumers and employees care about. For instance, in recent months, several banks — including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo and SunTrust — said they would no longer lend money to companies that run immigrant detention centers.

  • Yes, but: That pressure companies face can be problematic for brands that need to serve a wide range of customers and employ diverse workforces. Advocates are pushing to hold companies accountable for their policies by encouraging employee and consumer activism on social media, but some employees feel that the pressure is alienating conservatives.

The big picture: Several issues have become divisive for companies and their workforces under the last two years of the administration, according to a Morning Consult survey.

  • Guns have become more contentious in the wake of high-profile mass shootings like Parkland. Walmart employees staged a walkout last week to protest gun sales after two mass shootings left dozens dead in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

  • Restrictive abortion bills at the state level have forced many companies to change their policies or pull their business from certain states. Earlier this year, Hollywood heavyweights like Netflix, Disney, NBC and WarnerMedia all considered film production boycotts if Georgia upheld a controversial “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban.

Source: Trump’s immigration policies are causing corporate employee revolts

Tech Companies Say it’s Too Hard to Hire High-Skilled Immigrants in the U.S. — So They’re Growing in Canada Instead

The latest in a series of articles. Perhaps the only upside for Canada of the Trump presidency:

On a recent Tuesday, Neal Fachan walked down a dock in Seattle’s Lake Union and boarded a blue and yellow Harbour Air seaplane, alongside six other tech executives. He was bound for Vancouver to check on the Canadian office of Qumulo, the Seattle-based cloud storage company he co-founded in 2012. With no security lines, it was an easy 50-minute flight past snow-capped peaks. Later that day, Fachan caught a return flight back to Seattle.

Fachan began making his monthly Instagram-worthy commute when Qumulo opened its Vancouver office in January. Other passengers on the seaplanes go back and forth multiple times a week. Fachan says his company expanded across the border because Canada’s immigration policies have made it far easier to hire skilled foreign workers there compared to the United States. “We require a very specific subset of skills, and it’s hard to find the people with the right skills,” Fachan says as he gets off the plane. “Having access to a global employment market is useful.”

In the fractious battle over immigration policy, most of the attention has been directed at apprehending migrants at the southern border. Some tech executives and economists, however, believe that growing delays and backlogs for permits for skilled workers at America’s other borders pose a more significant challenge to the U.S.’s standing as a wealth-creating start-up mecca. The risk of losing out on the fruits of innovation to Canada and other countries that are more welcoming to immigrants might be a bigger problem for our economic future than a flood of refugees. Half of America’s annual GDP growth is attributed to rising innovation.

“Increasingly, talented international professionals choose destinations other than the United States to avoid the uncertain working environment that has resulted directly from the agency’s processing delays and inconsistent adjudications,” testified Marketa Lindt, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, at a House hearing last week about processing delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Lindt’s organization finds that USCIS processing time for some work permits has doubled since 2014, a fact cited in a May letter signed by 38 U.S. Senators on both sides of the aisle asking USCIS to explain the processing delays.

The backlogs in processing have particularly benefited our neighbor to the north. Canada has adopted an open-armed embrace of skilled programmers, engineers and entrepreneurs at the same time the U.S. is tightening its stance. Research shows that high-skilled foreign workers are highly productive and innovative, and tend to create more new businesses, generating jobs for locals. So each one who winds up in Canada instead of America is a win for the former, and a loss for the latter. “Really smart people can drive economic growth,” says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank in Washington, D.C. funded in part by cable, pharmaceutical, television, and tech companies. “There are not that many people in the world with an IQ of 130, and to the extent that we’re attracting those people rather than the Canadians doing so, we’re better off.”

With the unemployment rate hovering below at or below four percent for the past 18 months, tech companies are long used to battling for talent by offering $100,000-plus starting salaries and perks like onsite gyms and all the kombucha you can drink. Recruiting foreign talent is one way for them to find new hires. There are a number of ways companies can hire skilled workers from India, China, and other countries, including applying for L-1 and H-1B visas, which allow foreigners to temporarily work in the United States. Demand for these visas, which are awarded by lottery, is intense. Since 2004, 65,000 H-1B visas are issued annually: this year’s ceiling was hit in only four days. (The government allows 20,000 additional visas for workers who have a master’s degree or PhD from a U.S. university.)

Amid the wider crackdown on immigration under the Trump Administration, the application process for employment-based visas appears to have gotten even tougher. The government denied 24% of all initial H-1B applications in 2018, up from six percent in 2015, according to an analysis of data from the National Foundation for American Policy, a pro-immigration think tank. It’s not just H-1B applicants who are experiencing delays. Applicants for all employment-based green cards now have to appear in person at a field office, a new policy that has created long delays, according to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which says immigration officials under Trump are focusing more on enforcement than on processing legal applications for benefits. And despite a backlog of 5.7 million cases in 2018, USCIS has been providing surge resources to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices across the country, diverting more staff away from processing visa applications.

Canada’s policies, in contrast, offer an alluring alternative. Canada permits companies with offices in the country to hire skilled foreign workers in positions such as computer engineers, software designers, and mathematicians, and have their visas processed within two weeks. These workers can soon after apply to be permanent residents and, within three years, become full-fledged citizens. (The path to permanent residency for foreign workers in the U.S., by contrast, can take decades.) Officials at the Canadian consulate in Seattle work with two to three companies a week trying to set up offices in Canada.

“The visa process is just completely unpredictable for us, and we were wrestling with it for so long, we decided we needed to have some certainty,” says Thor Kallestad, the CEO of DataCloud, which uses technology to help mining companies better assess land potential. He already had offices in Silicon Valley and Seattle, but decided to open up shop in Vancouver and close his Silicon Valley office so he could more easily hire foreign workers. “In the U.S., we just couldn’t get clear answers about what the process looked like, what we as a company needed to do to rectify it.”

The Canadian option offers workers more certainty — and a near-guaranteed path to citizenship — while many U.S. skilled workers have no idea when and if they will get approved to stay in the United States. Given the choice, talented entrepreneurs with cutting-edge companies are choosing Canada. “They really make it easy to come in and start a business,” said Nat Cartwright, one of the founders of Finn.AI, an artificial intelligence company that powers virtual assistants for banks around the world. Cartwright and her two business partners, who are from Australia and India, met in business school in Spain. When they graduated, they considered locating their new company in Silicon Valley, but ultimately chose Vancouver because they knew they would qualify for a start-up visa there, and that they would be able to quickly hire AI experts from around the world. Of the company’s 60 workers, 60% were born outside Canada. Seven of Cartwright’s business school classmates from Spain have since relocated to Canada.

Canadian officials have deftly responded to the changing climate in the U.S. In 2017, the Trudeau government announced Global Skills Strategy, the program that allows companies to get work permits for foreign talent in less than two weeks. Their spouses can also receive work permits; the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this year proposed revoking work permits of the spouses of skilled foreign workers in the U.S. In 2018, the Trudeau government also made permanent the Start-Up Visa program, which allows immigrant entrepreneurs to live and work in the country provided their start-up has secured funding from venture capitalists or angel investors. A similar start-up visa program in the United States was approved in the last days of the Obama administration, but the Trump administration is in the process of ending it. “By helping Canadian companies grow, this strategy is creating more jobs for Canada’s middle class and a stronger Canadian economy,” said Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s Somali-born Minister of Immigration, earlier this year.

Even the biggest American tech companies are expanding their Canadian operations in a quest for high-skilled labor. Software engineer Janko Jerinic moved to Canada after attending an Amazon recruiting fair in his home country of Serbia. He wanted a job in New York or Seattle, but his wife hoped to work as well, and an Amazon recruiter said it would be hard for her to get a visa. The recruiter steered the couple to Vancouver, where Jerinic has worked for Amazon since 2015. The office, which opened in 2013, rapidly grew from about 500 people when he started to triple that now. A map in Jerinic’s Vancouver office shows employees’ places of birth. There are hundreds of pins from places like India, Russia, Brazil, and Belgium. But “you have to use a flashlight to find people from Canada,” he jokes. Amazon said in April 2018 that it was building a 416,000 square foot office in downtown Vancouver that will open in 2022; it plans to hire 3,000 more people there.

That technology companies are growing across America’s border has big implications for the U.S. economy. Since World War II, the U.S. has been the epicenter of the entrepreneurial universe. But America’s entrepreneurial dominance is waning. While 95% of global start-up and venture capital activity took place in the United States in the mid-1990s, today it’s about half, according to a report from the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE), a nonprofit that advocates for start-ups and is funded by banks and financial institutions. And the number of start-ups still paying employees a year after their founding fell 42% between 2005 and 2015, the most recent year for which there is data available.

The innovation economy creates jobs outside of tech, too. Research by the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti suggests that every high-paying tech job created in an economy results in five more openings, including positions like lawyers, nurses, and hairdressers. The United States allows about 140,000 immigrant skilled workers to become permanent residents annually; Canada, a company with one-tenth of the population, welcomed 160,000 skilled workers on the track to permanent residency in 2017 and hopes to get that number to nearly 200,000 by 2021. Its goal of making immigrants 1% of its population by 2021 would increase annual GDP growth by 0.6%, with immigrants driving one-third of that expansion, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

Making it easier for high-skilled immigrants in the United States could help jump-start America’s innovation economy, said Ian Hathaway, a Brookings Institution fellow who studies entrepreneurialism and technology. Immigrants are twice as likely as native-born Americans to start businesses. Immigrants or children of immigrants founded almost half of America’s Fortune 500 companies. More immigration could also bring benefits beyond the country’s traditional tech hubs, boosting businesses in the countryside and suburbia that are short on skilled tech talent. Most of the start-up activity that has occurred since the Great Recession has been concentrated in only 20 counties, a startling contrast to the economic recovery of the 1990s, when new businesses were sprinkled across the country.

VannTech, a recruiting platform, recently brought 126 Brazilian workers to a company in the Canadian prairies whose native workers kept moving to Toronto and Vancouver. The platform has 70,000 skilled tech workers looking to relocate to Canada and Europe; it does not help these people go to the United States because the process is too difficult, said Ilya Brotzky, VannHack’s CEO. “If U.S. companies are putting 5,000 tech jobs in Canada, when they could be putting them in places like St. Louis or Indianapolis, that’s a huge deal to those local economies,” says Atkinson.

At the same time, Trump himself has advocated for rethinking the system. In 2017, he backed the Raise Act, a bill introduced by Senate Republicans that would have cut legal immigration in half, while also establishing a points system designed to give priority to skilled workers and investors. While the bill would not have dramatically increased the number of visas available to in-demand workers, it did signal a preference for skilled workers over other migrants. The bill stalled out after opposition from politicians whose constituencies include agriculture and tourism companies, which rely heavily on unskilled immigrants. Trump reintroduced the merit-based immigration idea this year in a Rose Garden speech, and his staff is considering a new immigration plan that would revamp the current system to prioritize skills over family ties. “We want immigrants coming in,” he said in May. “We cherish the open door that we want to create for our country, but a big proportion of those immigrants must come in through merit and skill.”

Harbour Air, the seaplane company, used to fly buyers in and out of remote log booms across the Pacific Northwest. As that business waned, the company pivoted to tourism. Now, pilot Reggie Morisset says that tech industry demand is filling up planes once again. When the Vancouver-Seattle route launched last year, tech companies bought tickets in bulk so their employees could easily go back and forth between Canada and the United States, he said. “It’s catching fire,” he said. “If anything, it is just going to get busier.”

Source: Tech Companies Say it’s Too Hard to Hire High-Skilled Immigrants in the U.S. — So They’re Growing in Canada Instead

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