Luring The World’s Tech Stars To Canada

If you want to bring high-value immigrants to Canada, you have to offer them a good reason to come here.

On Thursday, January 24, federal citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism minister Jason Kenney unveiled a new Canadian visa to lure some of the world’s high-tech talent away from the U.S. to Canada. Under this new visa class, tech immigrants and their teams would receive instant permanent-resident status.

This brings to fruition B.C. investors Boris Wertz and Danny Robinson’s several years of lobbying to attract top technology teams to settle in Canada instead of the U.S., where most teams prefer to settle. It is hoped that many Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs will choose Canada over the U.S. and the U.K., where their immigration status is always uncertain. It’s also hoped that an influx of tech geniuses will help grow our own tech industry from the continual baby status it now experiences.

I can’t think of a better way to jump start our technology industries than to bring in bright young stars from all over the world. A huge influx of Indian immigrants is one reason why Silicon Valley became the world’s technology centre.

But let’s get real: this isn’t going to replace the Valley. Part of any active technology scene is the presence and idea-sparking of many other entrepreneurs. And we don’t have that here. We’re far too small and dispersed.

But, with this program, we’ll take a few steps toward growth. Certainly, that will be better than the old system, where anyone who opened a business and employed one Canadian for a year was granted immigration status. This kept a few small stores alive, but it didn’t do much to build industries or grow the economy.

Investors would buy any old “business” via some consultant, stick a relative or someone else with Canadian citizenship in there to “operate” it, and merrily go about some other pursuit for a couple of years until they could flip it over to the next newcomer.