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Big tech companies eyeing Vancouver due to Trump: entrepreneur

(Courtesy: Hootsuite)

Potentially major changes to H-1B visas could mean five large tech companies setting up Vancouver offices

Vancouver is closest logical place for those companies to move to: True North

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A number of large tech companies are looking at setting up satellite offices here due to the Trump administration.

That’s according to True North, a company offering a paid service to help foreign-born workers in the US set up back-up plans in Canada in case there are changes to the worker visa system.

Of specific concern for tech companies in the US is the tough talk from President Donald Trump when it comes to H-1B visas — if those are changed in a big way, Michael Tippett with True North says he expects around five Hootsuite-sized companies to set up offices in Vancouver, based on the volume of calls he’s been getting.

It’s not a theoretical concern — earlier this month the US Justice Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services department issued a warning about the abuse of those visas and a coming crackdown for those who are perceived to be favouring foreign over domestic workers.

“What’s been most interesting to us recently is the size of companies who re approaching us,” says Tippett. “To put it in perspective, we’re seeing companies who are on the scale of a Hootsuite or Shopify or some of the larger technology companies in Canada who are thinking very seriously about setting up operations in Canada. Generally not relocating the organization completely but setting up a hub in the city, so the scale is much larger than we imagined it was initially.”

“You could see companies with hundreds of employees setting up operations in Canada and potentially in a single city like Vancouver or Toronto,” says Tippett.

True North charges $6000 per person to connect them with immigration professionals, which also includes flights and accommodation in Vancouver.

“The number that sticks in my mind is that 43 percent of founders of Silicon Valley tech companies are not American-born,” says Tippett. “So, theoretically, you have up to half of Silicon Valley who could be impacted. You’ve got companies with 10, 20, 30 percent of their employee base are H-1B workers. So, you’re going to have massive chunks of Silicon Valley that is effectively going to be relocated and the question for them, is not if, but where they go to.

“Vancouver is ideally positioned as the closest logical place for those companies to move to. You could start seeing five to 10 Hootsuite-sized companies start moving into the local tech sector in the very near future.”