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July 06, 2007

« Globalization and US Cities | Main | Florida-ville Invades Colbert Nation »

Redmondlab Microsoft is setting up a new software development center in Vancouver, Canada.  Talent and especially US visa restrictions are the reason.

"For the time being, it's a centre for great talent. We're using it as a place to locate talent rather than to get a specific piece of work done," Sharif Khan, vice president of human resources of Microsoft Canada, told CBCNews.ca ... "It's such an amazing place to attract great talent to," he said. "Talk about a hub, a great place to live for people, a sort of diverse and inclusive location with great infrastructure...."There's a restriction on the number of visas the company can get for foreign employees in the U.S.," he said. "Canada's slightly more inclusive in that respect."

It's pretty clear from the story this is a real research facility, not a back office, geared to attract top talent from Canada, Asia-Pacific and the world. Vancouver is close to Microsoft's Redmond, Washington headquarters just outside Seattle. So the development work, the salaries and tax revenues go to Canada not the US. And of course those all important technology spillovers and clustering get built in Vancouver strengthening its already significant research base and university infrastructure.

The full story is here (hat tips: Wendy Waters, Ken Firestone)


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Another comment Microsoft made in this article that should concern American policy makers:

"Khan said the company would be looking for talent from the U.S., Canada and abroad, but will also transfer some existing employees."

So - they will be taking talent from the USA for this Vancouver facility.


Wendy - These may in fact be key people who are running into issues with US immigration. Thanks for the great tip.


Hmmm.. you mean people who had temporary work permits for the USA who are struggling to become permanent? I read it as they may be US citizens or permanent residents, even long time Microsoft employees, relocating to provide leadership in the new facility. Time will tell.

Either way, it's a US brain drain. Intriguingly, in the 1990s, Canadians went south in another brain drain -- so maybe it should also be seen as part of a long-term cycle in the global flow of talent.


There are close to ONE THOUSAND people left in the lurch due to the h1b mess. these folk were interviewed and hired by microosft but have been unable to join due to non avalability of h1b visas.
(shame really.. I myself came on an H1b and am a citizen now)
this center is primarily for people like them.

They have a group where they discuss this stuff:

also found a blog:


Homeland Security will be the ruin of the US economy....

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