Ease of Canadian visa system prompts move

Microsoft announced yesterday that it will open a software development centre in Vancouver, giving it a place to employ skilled workers snagged by U.S. immigration quotas.


It may signal the start of a new hiring trend, with other U.S. high-tech firms following in Microsoft’s footsteps to Canada, where lawyers say it is easier for foreign nationals to obtain work credentials.


Microsoft said it plans to open the Vancouver facility by the end of the year. It will initially have about 200 workers, and employ about 900 within a couple years.


Evan Green, a Toronto immigration attorney who helps businesses obtain visas for employees, said that other U.S. companies could follow Microsoft’s lead.


“Lots of companies are looking at (expanding in Canada) because of their frustration with getting U.S. visas,” Green said.

Company spokesman Lou Gellos said Microsoft’s frustration with the U.S. government’s visa policy wasn’t the only reason for the expansion in Canada.

It is part of a larger program to diversify software development outside of Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash., Gellos said.

“We would be opening this centre in Vancouver even if this visa situation didn’t exist,” Gellos said.

Recruitment and retention

  • Microsoft said in a statement that the Vancouver centre will “allow the company to continue to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by the immigration issues in the United States.”