Venture capitalists and angel investors in Canada said his executive order could cause highly educated immigrants — an important talent pool for fast-growing technology companies who need engineers, developers and salespeople — to seek work in hubs across the border, like Toronto and Vancouver, rather than in Silicon Valley.
The executive order, which Trump signed in January, prevents Syrian refugees from entering the United States for an indefinite period, suspended all refugees' admissions for 120 days and prevented citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days. On Wednesday, administration officials said Trump will drop Iraq from the list in a new immigration order he is expected to sign this month. The Pentagon and State Department had urged the administration to reconsider, because Iraq has played an essential role in fighting the Islamic State Group.
Drawing on links with cities farther south — like Seattle and San Francisco — Vancouver, Canada's third-largest city, has pulled in thousands of skilled workers and entrepreneurs in recent years. Now U.S. tech companies are increasingly sending inquiries to Canadian economic development authorities to see how they can shift workers north of the border. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has been reported to say these requests have risen sharply.
Many of the world's largest tech groups already operate in Vancouver. They include Amazon, which is looking to add to its staff of 700 in Vancouver.
"There is a real shortage of talented people who can do the jobs that are needed," said Janet Bannister, a general partner in Toronto- and Montreal-based Real Ventures, which bills itself as Canada's largest and most active early-stage venture capital firm. "There are many very qualified, ambitious, hardworking people who will no longer be able to go to the U.S. Many of those people will come to Canada, as Canada embraces diversity. The Canadian business community will benefit as a result."
Cost is also an important consideration. A skilled worker in British Columbia earns around $1,222 a week, compared to $3,400 in California, according to BC Stats, a government agency.