In the heart of downtown Vancouver, construction workers are installing glass facades on two office towers. One will be an engineering hub for Microsoft, the other for Amazon.com. Facebook, Salesforce.com, and a bunch of startups with less familiar names have also been setting up shop in the city. In addition to great views in a convenient time zone, Vancouver offers U.S. tech companies world-class talent, lower salaries, and few immigration headaches.
Each year the U.S. government grants as many as 85,000 H-1B visas for highly skilled workers. In the last two years, it received so many applications that it stopped taking them after five days and held a lottery. Companies applied for about 172,500 visas in April, meaning at least 87,500 engineers, developers, and others couldn’t take jobs in the U.S. Canada welcomes any highly skilled worker who has a job offer, and salaries for tech workers are about 10 percent to 15 percent lower than in the U.S., according to Jen Geddes, a steering committee member of HR Tech Group, a networking group in British Columbia.