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Canada Luring IT with Express Entry Visa

Program Thumbs Its Nose at Broken US Immigration Policies

Canada is on the way to launching its Express Entry visa program, designed to encourage skilled foreign workers to apply for invitations for permanent residence. To be launched in January, the program's unstated aim is to grab a significant share of foreign IT pros who find it difficult to impossible to immigrate to the US.

While Fortress America remains mired in anti-immigration debates and a torturous H-1B visa program that lowers wages in the US tech industry while simultaneously treating visa holders as indentured servants, Canada is moving ahead with one of the most progressive immigration plans in the world.

Express Entry was mentioned in Canada's recent Comprehensive Growth Strategy, presented as part of its responsibilities as a G20 member at the recent G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia. This plan also includes commitments to increase Canadian telco competitiveness, to follow several global trade agreements, and to bring its federal government budget back into surplus

The strategy also mentions economic diversification and a "responsible" use of its enormous natural resources.

Can't Blame Canada
It's no surprise that Canada emerges as one of the global leaders in our research at the Tau Institute, which measures the relative IT environments and dynamics of 106 nations. Canada easily surpasses the US, and is on a virtual par with Germany, the UK, and Japan among the world's top economies.

Canada has been prone in the past to experience economic slowdowns more severely than the US, in part due to its past reliance on the US market, in part due to wild swings in the markets for natural resources.

Its development and advocacy of the Express Entry program should serve to inject much fresh oxygen into its economy, as it grabs technology brains from throughout the world (particularly Asia), which should also serve to stimulate domestic brains into creating the sort of innovation found in the recent past by Blackberry (in its glory days) and Cognos, and more recently by the likes of Solace Systems, Solgenia, Jostle.me and many others

There's no reason to speak of a "Canadian Silicon Valley," but rather, Canadian innovation can be found in all of its major provinces, with the financial centers of Toronto and Vancouver joining the energy companies of Alberta as key drivers.

It seems likely that politicians in the US will be scarcely aware of the Express Entry program, even if American technology companies feel its sting and/or locate more of their resources up north. (There are already reports of companies using Canada as a way station to get foreign talent into the US.) There is also no guarantee that Express Entry will be successful and/or add significant value to the Canadian economy

But our research indicates that Canada is doing many things well, and it will be time well-spent watching this program as it unfolds in the coming year.

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Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

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