Canadian company wants international tech workers impacted by US COVID-19 visa ban

 (KGO) -- "What if?" is the headline of nine billboards that are covering the Bay Area targeting international tech talent. Who's behind them? Canada! Well, sort of.

"We are all looking for great talent and I think the great thing about Canada is that is a very welcoming place. We do care about diversity and inclusion," said Iain Klugman, CEO of Canada's Communitech.

Canadian company Communitech is investing $100,000 in this ad campaign offering international tech talent a job, health insurance and a guaranteed H-1B visa in 10 days.

"That's the thing our government realized a couple years ago. From every one of those people who comes in they are creating between 6-19 new jobs for Canadians," said Klugman.

This comes at a time when President Donald Trump suspended H1-B visas until the end of the year. So Canadian Company Communitech is putting it out there. Their doors are open and Silicon Valley CEOs are seeing the impact.

"I'm seating in board meetings, other CEOs can relate. They are trying to hire programmers from Russia, or talent from other parts of the world. Canada has done a really great job at accelerating these systems," said Michael Worry, CEO of Nuvation Engineering in Sunnyvale.

Now, how concerned should Silicon Valley be with enticing billboard campaigns like this one hoping to poach talent form this area?

Peter Leroe-Munoz, Senior Vice President of Technology and Innovation Policy for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group sees this as a flattering ad but believes we should never let our guard down.

"We should always be concerned that we are protecting and preserving our competitive advantage as the hub of the innovation economy," he said.

The pandemic and immigration halts have taken a toll according to Leroe-Munoz, but they pay in Canada still does not compare to Silicon Valleys.

"On average the tech workers here in the U.S. can make double what they are making in some of the tech hubs in Canada," said Leroe-Munoz.

The hope is that when the pandemic ends, that talent comes back or holds on. Or, there is always Canada.

"This pandemic, while it is persistent will not last forever. There will be a time when we return to a new normal of work and we will see an increase of in-person meetings, retreats," said Leroe-Munoz.

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