According to a report by the Economist Canada’s Toronto created more IT jobs in the technology sector than Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York and Washington DC combined.
Indian techies have started looking for greener pastures in Canada after regulations for the US H-1B visa and Green Card have become more stringent. Interestingly, these techies don't mind taking a pay cut.
This is in part due to the Canadian government’s Global Skill Strategy (GSS) programme launched in 2017. The objective of the programme is to attract highly skilled workers from across the world and Indian techies have been among the biggest beneficiaries.
According to reports based on the data released by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), at the end of December 2018, India got close to 9,500 work permits of the total 17,132 approved under GSS, followed by China at 1,420.
The areas that have seen highest employment in this category include computer analysts and consultants, software engineers and those in data processing space, the reports added.
Trump administration started to tighten regulations around H-1B visa given to skilled workers since 2017. Indian techies had been among the major beneficiaries of this visa for decades. However, in the last two years, thousands of techies have had to return home due to visa restrictions.
The US government's clampdown coincided with the Canadian government's skilled visa programme to attract workers. In addition, Canada also expanded its existing immigration programme such as Federal Skilled Worker, Provincial Nominee Program and Canada Experience Class to attract more immigrants.
According to a report published by the Canadian immigration office, a number of invitations issued by countries for citizenship for one of the immigration programmes increased 46 percent in 2018 to 41,675 followed by China at 6,248. The areas of employment were primarily in information technology, and business and financial services.
Immigration and industry experts state that Canada could be the next logical step for tech firms in future.
A recent report by the Economist on the growing Canadian economy pointed out that Toronto created more IT jobs in the technology sector than Silicon Valley, Seattle, New York and Washington DC combined.
The report further noted that Canada is home to startups such as Shopify that are valued at $14 billion. The country is also an artificial intelligence hot-bed with Facebook and Samsung opening AI research labs there.
However, it does not seem to attract investment and is only a third-tier investment destination.
Pointing out the potential, Anshuman Gaur, an Indian diplomat in Canada, said in a tweet that Canada could be the next phase of growth in IT and Indian IT firms should focus there.
According to an immigration expert, “Yes, having a US visa and Green Card is what everybody would want. But that has gotten tough. So, the UK would be the next option but with BREXIT, it is no longer a desirable destination.”
“But Canada is the next best. With the Canadian passport, getting access to other countries is a lot easier than with the India passport. So even if they have to take a pay cut, people will still go for a Canadian passport so that they can look for a better opportunity in other countries,” the expert added.
Though all this has created a huge interest in Canada, jobs are not growing as fast. This is exactly the challenge the government is facing now.
“What is happening in Canada is that there is a huge influx of people coming to the country and not enough jobs,” said Abhinav Lohia, Director, South Asia & the Middle East at Canam Investor Services, LLC and an immigration expert.
Many techies who are turning to Canada are taking a pay cut in the hope for permanent residency. Some Indian students studying in Canadian universities are even driving cabs to make ends meet.
According to reports, if an employee gets an average salary of $134,000 in San Francisco, US, in Toronto, the average salary is close to $75,000.
But job opportunities are not as promising in other Canadian cities as in Toronto.Unless the government does something to create more jobs, it would be difficult to maintain the interest, pointed out another industry expert.
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