Salesforce will invest $2 billion in its Canadian business over the next five years, the company announced on Thursday, growing its office space, data center capacity, and Canadian workforce. The announcement came during a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to San Francisco, where he is meeting with tech company executives to encourage them to grow their businesses in Canada, Reuters reports. In particular, Trudeau hopes to woo these tech companies with Canada’s more business-friendly immigration policies at a time when President Donald Trump is cracking down on legal immigration to the United States:
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff did not specify why the company chose Canada but he said, “Like you, we’re a city that values diversity, we value equality and we also value innovation. …We know we’ll be able to have a great business environment in Canada.” The company did not respond to a question about whether the immigration policies in the two countries influenced the decision.
Other American tech companies have bitten at Trudeau’s offer in the past year, Reuters adds, bolstering his efforts to make Canada (particularly Toronto) a hub for artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies. Since last May, Uber, Alphabet’s DeepMind unit, Facebook, and Microsoft announced plans to establish or expand AI research labs in Canadian cities, including Toronto, Edmonton, and Montreal. Toronto is also on Amazon’s short list of contenders for its second headquarters in North America.
China has begun issuing a new form of fast-track, extended-stay visa for recipients of its “Certificate for Foreign High-end Talent,” the South China Morning Post reported last Thursday. The five- and ten-year multiple-entry visas are free, can be processed in as little as one day, and are also available to the spouses and children of certified “high-end” foreign talent. This marks a noteworthy departure from the country’s otherwise very tight controls on immigration and foreign workers:
According to government guidelines, high-end foreigners also refer to, among others, Nobel Prize winners, chief or deputy editors in Chinese state media, foreign coaches and players in national and provincial sports teams, postdoctoral students from world-class universities outside China, and foreigners who earn at least six times the average annual wage in China. The average annual income in Beijing in 2016 was 92,477 yuan (US$14,220), according to official statistics.
The visas are part of a top-down drive to make China a more attractive place to work and stay. In February 2016, the central government relaxed the country’s green card rules, extending eligibility for permanent residency to foreigners working in broader fields than just government departments or laboratories involved in “key national projects”.
Downtown Sydney (LeoPatrizi /iStock)
While the prospect of Brexit and the Trump administration’s approach to immigration policy are seen by some as the main challenges to global labor mobility in the coming years, the US and UK aren’t the only countries trying to reduce their reliance on imported talent. On Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull abruptly announced that his government was doing away with the 457 skilled worker visa (the Australian analogue to the US’s H-1B), and replacing it with a more restrictive program that limits the number of eligible occupations and raises the threshold to qualify, the Guardian reports:
“Australians must have priority for Australian jobs – so we’re abolishing the [class] 457 visas, the visas that bring temporary foreign workers into our country,” he said. “We’ll no longer let 457 visas be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians. It’s important that businesses still get access to the skills they need to grow and invest. So the 457 visa will be replaced by a new temporary visa specifically designed to recruit the best and the brightest in the national interest.”
Turnbull said the new visa would “better target genuine skills shortages” and would include new requirements such as previous work experience, better English-language proficiency and labour market testing. He said the government would establish “a new training fund” for Australians to fill skills gaps.
The number of 457 visa holders currently stands at 95,758, the Guardian adds, with nationals of India and the UK together making up over 40 percent of them. The guest workers are predominantly employed in IT, professional services, and various science and technology jobs. Human Capital delves into the details of the new scheme: