A new initiative has launched in response to an executive order from President Donald Trump’s administration that will change the H-1B work visa program Silicon Valley companies have long used to bring overseas talent to the US.
“Our country’s immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest,” Trump’s draft proposal reads. “Visa programs for foreign workers should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers.”
The initiative, True North, aims to situate foreign-born workers in the US in Canada—Vancouver specifically—where they can work remotely and discuss with immigration lawyers their options.
“One of the reasons that Silicon Valley has out innovated the rest of the globe is that they bring the smartest people in the world together in one place,” says Michael Tippett, a serial entrepreneur based in Vancouver who is part of True North. “Current US immigration policies are making this more difficult.”
True North is for-profit and charges $6,000 to have a worker flown to Vancouver, set up in a hotel, and given access to “world-class immigration professionals.”
“True North is working with people in Vancouver and Silicon Valley to help ensure that whatever exodus results from the new Trump administration does not endanger our ability to advance technology globally,” explains Tippett. “Vancouver has a vibrant technology scene, sits on the same time zone as Silicon Valley and has an enlightened view on immigration and is the logical place for all this world class talent to relocate.”
The ultimate idea is to keep workers in one general area (and timezone) as opposed to having them scatter—have Vancouver become an unofficial sanctuary for disenfranchised Valley talent. Plus, many tech titans along the west coast of the US already have established offices in the city, including Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.
“As talent moves north, so too will investor dollars, which will have an enormously positive impact on the region,” Tippett added.