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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

For a long long time there was just one destination if you were an ambitious tech innovator and eager to change the world America Silicon Valley in California. Was your first choice. Probably but New York silicon alley was right there to Washington State Chicago Massachusetts. All of them home to the industry's biggest companies cutting edge facilities and they still are home to those companies and facilities. That might no longer be enough. Okay I I'm going back to my google. Search who here is new to Canada. The Chauhan's unbelievable people whose here is newer to cannon less than three months. I wouldn't be three months. It was originally a casual prediction. Made around the time of Donald. TRUMP'S I I travel ban in two thousand seventeen so have a travel ban. It's a very powerful ban. We're adding a couple of countries to we have to be safe. Our country has to be saved would usurp American ones as the place of choice for up and coming talent now. Three years later the results are coming in and both Toronto and in Vancouver are rapidly climbing the charts and now depending on what happens down south in November. This shift might turn out to be much more than a temporary Harry. Black Jordan Heath Rawlings. This is the big story Joel. Rose is a correspondent based in Washington. DC WITH NPR. He covers among other things immigration Hazel. Hey Jordan how you doing. I'm doing pretty well. Especially because is beating the US at something right. Now that is sort of my editors headline but yeah Canada's Canada's. Winning candidate is winning. We'll take it where we can find it. Why don't you start before we get into The whole story. Just tell me a little bit About Jason Gould lest who's one of the characters in your piece who is he and why does he sounds like a game show host so Jason Gould List was the emcee of this event that I attended in Toronto a couple of weeks ago. Ladies and Gentlemen Welcome Welcome. Welcome the first tech the decade here. We go hosted by this organization called Tech Toronto and Jason is the CO founder and they do several of these events a month where folks in the tech industry kind of get together. They watch presentations from their successful peers. Up on the podium kind of like little Ted Ted talks or what have you and they schmooze. There's a Lotta schmoozing. There's pizza. There's beer I wanted to be there because this is also an entry point for people who are new in town trying trying to learn their way around the Texan in Toronto. And I wanted to find people you know who had just arrived and sure enough. Dozens of people at this event had just arrived. I'm one of the questions that Jason Asks. Most of these events is who here is new in Canada. We have a show of hands. Unbelievable that I saw there were dozens of hands in the air All over this auditorium and I should say there are like hundreds of people in the auditorium probably like five hundred and not all of them were new in town but a big chunk thank were and if you think about it. They're doing like three or four events like this. Every month and I think you'd get a similar percentage of new Canadians. At every one of these events it just sort of illustration of how many people are coming into this tech scene from around the world All the time. And that's why I wanted to be there just to to talk to some of these people who just moved to Canada you know and and get some of their stories. Some of them had moved directly to Canada others had come from the US and had left for one reason or another and move north others were coming. I'm from outside of North America And landing for the first time in Canada. Yeah can you put into context a little bit. what is going on with the tech scene in Toronto right now and I guess yes in Vancouver to It's one thing to sort of anecdotally look at these events but What kind of numbers we have by some measures? Toronto's Rose Tech scene is actually growing faster than any other city in North America including San Francisco including Seattle including New York. Like these big. You know cities in the US that have been magnets for tech workers for you know forever and you know by some measure. Toronto is eclipse. Them and Vancouver is not that far behind Vancouver is also correct. Sort of the top five in terms of the fastest growing Texans In North America. So they're clearly doing something to attract all these all these workers. NFL these jobs. And I you know that's what's going on. I think it's worth pointing out. You know in terms of total tech jobs. They probably still have a ways to go to catch up to these big. US cities is that I've just named but they're making up the ground pretty fast when you talk to people in the industry for this piece. How unusual is that to see To Canadian cities jump ahead of some of the US cities that I would certainly Associate with tech industry more than Toronto or Vancouver. I think it's a pretty big change when I first wrote about the Canadian tech industry a couple years ago after president trump took office. People told me that Canada kind of used to be known for brain drain that the country produced loosed really good engineers and software developers and then basically watch them leave. Yeah that's been a long standing issue in Canada so this is a big change in that sense right candidate is now keeping more of those brains in jobs and it's also now importing tech talent from other countries including from the US and also outside. Outside of North America people who previously would have been flocking directly to the bay area in Seattle. And the you know the usual suspects are now taking a harder look at other markets and the Canadian cities seem to be benefiting from that. Can you give me an example of maybe just one of the people you talk to Toronto and kind of what with their stories and how how they ended up in Canada Sure I talked to several people who had Trained or worked in the US and then just has decided for one reason or another. That Canada was where the future was for them. I guess one person I would talk about is. You'll look so when I was on my last year of Mike Beach D. I wanted to go abroad and gain more experience. She is a computational biologist originally from Turkey and had done her advanced events studies in Europe and then in Baltimore Maryland in the US and she told me she did not even really seriously apply for jobs in the US. When I was applying for states I was already informed by several coaches and several friends? That's getting a visa in. US is not easy like she was well educated on it. She knew how difficult it was that you have to find an employer who really wants you. WHO's willing to sponsor you for the visa and then you are really tightly bound to that employer because your visa is bound to that employer if you WANNA change jobs it's a real complicated situation yeah And even just in the first place getting the approval to work for that employer. Who wants you right? You've already got the essentially the job offer but then there's a great deal of like lawyering paperwork that you have to go through to get the approval. There's a visa lottery. You may not even get it. It's extremely complicated. And time time consuming and expensive and she said you know what I don't need it becomes a full time job just to understand and learn the process of the weasel applications. I'm just not gonna FRY that hard to find a job in the US. I'M GONNA look in Canada and she found a company in Toronto and working in computational biology. She went up. She checked out the city she liked it. She got The offer the work permit came through and weeks. You know as soon is. She had all her paperwork in order from Europe everywhere else that she lived and then she started the job Just a couple of weeks ago at this company called Protein cure and Just it would have been if she tried to move to Chicago if she tried to move to. You know where the Big Pharma companies are in the states in New Jersey Z.. Or California Boston. I mean the jobs are there but I just would have been much more difficult for her personally and much more expensive and she just said you know what draws great. I've got a job there like this company. And there she is she's working will given that and that the immigration policies that you cover play such a big role in some of these decisions is this really Something that Toronto or Vancouver are doing right or is it more. Just benefiting from something America's doing wrong right now or maybe not even wrong but Something that has fundamentally changed. I think the answer to that is both like I think the immigration system in the US was never particularly user friendly even before the trump administration came to power right and but the reality is now that it's gotten even harder for tech workers to get visas the denial rate for the new for new H.. One B. visas is way up in the past couple of years. It used to be like more than ninety percent got approved now. The approval rate is down to almost just about seventy five percent. which you know is still a lot? But it's a difference right. I think tech workers see that difference tech companies. Assume that difference and it's made everybody a little bit more reluctant to go through this process because there's more uncertainty. It was always long. It was always slow and expensive but you kind of new at the end of the day. You'd get your visa for your worker and they'd worked for you and now there's more uncertainty in people's minds and I think that really is pushing some tech workers away Not just the policy itself right but the perception that's causing people to look elsewhere and when they look at Canada I think they see that the country is doing the exact opposite the country is making it easier for these high skilled workers to come in and start working quickly and They notice you know the new Canadians that I talk to like how quickly they can get in that they can get this work permit in some cases in just a few weeks Compared to whatever it is months or years probably months but whatever a long period of time they'd have to wait in the US and another thing they talk about his. How quickly they can get ed permanent residency in Canada in the US that can take years and years to get a green card as we call it and the exact way time sort of depends on what country you're coming from mm for people from India and China in particular where a lot of people are coming? There's a really long line and the wait times can be measured actually in decades in some cases so Compare that to Canada. You get a passport in under five years you know. So that kind of certainty seems very attractive to people who want to put down roots. WanNa have a family Hard to do that when you don't really know what the immigration process is going to be for you a few years down the road and If it's ever GONNA lead to you having a passport in your new country I you know. So that's something people are thinking about when they make these decisions they're not just thinking about this job or you know even the second job. They're really moving their whole lives to North America and they WanNa know like what is going to happen to my family where we're going to be in five or ten years in Canada offers a much more predictable path. If you're looking at that far. How do American companies feel about this because you mentioned earlier that the jobs are still there in the states People are just choosing elsewhere. Because it's easier there but these guys are used to being the top choice for tech workers. Right they are and I think you know to to be totally fair. I think they still are a lot of cases right. I mean the bay area still has the cachet it has the venture capital. It has all all of that Seattle in New York people still want to work in these places but the H. One B. visas in this country are capped at eighty five