According to several sources, Facebook will hire 150 programmers for a temporary office in Vancouver, B.C. while they wait to get permits to work in the United States.
The move seems to be a direct response to the U.S. dragging its feet on immigration reform.
In January, in a report called “FACT SHEET: Fixing our Broken Immigration System so Everyone Plays by the Rules”, U.S. President Barack Obama said a startup visa was a priority of his.
“Create a “startup visa” for job-creating entrepreneurs” said the report. “The proposal allows foreign entrepreneurs who attract financing from U.S. investors or revenue from U.S. customers to start and grow their businesses in the United States, and to remain permanently if their companies grow further, create jobs for American workers, and strengthen our economy.”
Immigration reform is a hot-button topic in the U.S. As far back as 2009, entrepreneurs such as Brad Feld and Paul Kedrosky were arguing that the US was suffering from the lack of a progressive policy. In a co-authored New York Times Editorial entitled “Start-up Visas Can Jump-Start the Economy”, the pair offered some ideas.
“While fast-growing companies have long been the main source of new jobs and innovation, this country makes it outrageously difficult for immigrants to launch new companies here. This doesn’t make any sense. After all, Google, Pfizer, Intel, Yahoo, DuPont, eBay and Procter & Gamble are all former start-ups founded by immigrants. Where would this country be today without their world-changing innovations?
One good idea to make this process easier is to create a new visa for entrepreneurs, something that is increasingly being called by venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and angel investors a “start-up visa.” It might work like this: If immigrant entrepreneurs want to start a company in the U.S. and are able to raise a moderate amount of money (perhaps as little as $125,000) from an accredited U.S.-based venture capital firm or qualified U.S.-based angel investors, we should let them start a company here. It could be a couple of founders with an idea—that’s it. We would give visas to the founders and welcome them in to our country.”
North of the border, Canada’s startup visa is already a reality.
Early in January, the Canadian government announced the creation of the the Start-Up Visa Program, which connect foreign entrepreneurs with the Canadian private sector. The program, which will commences April 1st, will see Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO).
American tech entrepreneurs such as Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Google founder Sergey Brin and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, have recently lobbied for the right to hire skilled immigrants.