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Vancouver, the New Tech Hub

Unable to bring all their international talent to the U.S., tech companies head to Vancouver
Vancouver, the New Tech Hub
Illustration by Tracy Ma

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.