Canada plans to poach tech talent fleeing the US’s travel ban

Canadian tech companies are banding together in hope that Donald Trump’s travel ban executive order can help bring talent to a nation starved of skilled tech workers. As Silicon Valley teams up to take on the Trump administration, if the US ends up having to enforce the “unconstitutional” ban it could benefit those in Canada as a flood of high-quality tech talent heads north.

Canada plans to poach tech talent fleeing the US's travel ban

Spearheading this movement is Kaz Nejatian, CEO of fintech company Kash. Having helped craft Canada’s own immigration policies under its previous government, as a senior advisor to the former immigration minister, Nejatian sees a lot of potential in Trump’s “confusing and irresponsible” executive order.

“There’s a great reason to be worried about the security of the US border. Americans should be worried about it,” Nejatian explains to the BBC. “But there are things that help, and there are things that will hurt. This will hurt.”

Since Trump’s executive order – which looks to hold all refugees for an admission period of 120 days and a 90-day push on entry for people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – there’s been an uptick in the number of startups and companies looking to set up shop in Canada. Speaking to the BBC, immigration law specialist Stephen Green explained that his company has been taking calls from interested organisations “because we have predictability [in Canada].”

To reinforce the movement of talent into Canada, more than 150 executives signed an open letter to show their support for diversity and pluralism in their workforces. At the time of writing, there are over 3,400 signatories from Canadian company founders, CEOs and executives, including the likes of Shopify, PayPal Canada, IBM Canada and other businesses including venture-capital firms.

In the letter, Canadian tech companies appeal to the Canadian government to help bring tech talent into the nation via a targeted visa to provide tech workers temporary Canadian residency to live and work in the country. Doing so could help bridge the ever-widening gap between Canada’s tech sector and the behemoth that is Silicon Valley in California.

While it may be too early to say just how successful Canada’s appeal may be – especially if Trump’s travel ban is completely overruled – being open to those who feel persecuted could help Canada secure fresh tech talent.

[Image: remundo – Flickr]

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