Redmond crosses US border to utilise Canadian IT pros

Vancouver centre to be built for those ineligible to work in US

Microsoft will open a software development office in Vancouver, Canada, later this year, in part as a way to retain talented workers who can’t stay in the US because of immigration laws.

Software developers from around the world will staff the centre, which will allow Microsoft to keep skilled workers who are affected by US immigration issues, the company said in a statement earlier this month.

Microsoft, along with other high-tech companies, has been a vocal supporter of legislation that would increase the number of foreign workers allowed to stay in the US. Proposed amendments to the current foreign worker regulations were part of a larger controversial immigration bill that stalled in the US Congress recently.

Without new regulations, companies across the country are competing for just 65,000 H-1B visas — for foreign workers in fields such as IT — that are issued each year.

“This is especially a problem for Microsoft because they’re so big and doing so much hiring,” says Susannah Malarkey, executive director of the Washington Technology Alliance, an association of companies promoting education and an entrepreneurial environment in the state.

Companies like Microsoft can “either create a worksite in the country of origin of these people or lose out on them altogether,” she says.

In addition to its Redmond headquarters, Microsoft already has development centres in Ireland, Denmark, Israel and North Carolina. The Vancouver location is in part attractive because of its proximity to Redmond, Microsoft says. Microsoft did not reveal the Vancouver facility’s size or precise location.

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