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Bad H-1B Odds Bode Well for Canadian Companies, Talent

H-1B acceptance rates are declining, causing top tech talent to look elsewhere. Discover why this trend is leading companies to Canada.

The H-1B visa program was supposed to be a talent acquisition tool that would make it easy for US companies to recruit the world’s best talent.

It was supposed to create a steady inflow of highly skilled labour to maintain the country’s competitive edge in the global market. Yet, recent years have seen a drastic drop in acceptance rates – plummeting from 28% two years ago to just 10% now.

With record-high registrations and an acceptance rate at an all-time low, the H-1B visa program has become more like a lottery with bad odds. The program’s unpredictability has forced businesses and workers to seek more stable, reliable options.

H-1B Visa Acceptance Rates Over the Last Four Years

h1b acceptance rates for 2023 chart

Source: H-1B Electronic Registration Process, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, July 2023

Canada sees the future

The Canadian immigration system, on the other hand, is designed with the future in mind. Here, we focus on attracting top global talent to work at innovative companies that drive our industries forward – from tech to manufacturing to automotive and beyond. This forward-looking strategy continues to strengthen Canada’s reputation on the global stage.

Unlike the H-1B visa program, which leaves thousands in limbo each year, Canada offers several pathways for companies to attract and retain skilled workers from around the world. One example is the Global Talent Stream – a part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program that processes work permit applications in as little as two weeks.

Canada’s fast and efficient immigration programs stand in sharp contrast to lengthy and uncertain US processes. This results in growing companies looking north when they need to quickly bring in talent without all the red tape.

Canada’s pro-business environment extends beyond immigration policies. It has a stable economy, low business taxes and a government that’s supportive of tech innovation and growth. With initiatives designed to nurture startups and help businesses scale, Canada is an obvious strategic choice for companies looking to expand or relocate.

Waterloo: A magnet for top tech talent

In 2023, Waterloo was named the #1 small tech talent market in North America by CBRE for the third consecutive year. Waterloo has never been ranked anything BUT #1 on the Scoring Tech Talent Report. Ever since we entered the list in 2021, after being recognized as one of the fastest-growing opportunity markets, we’ve held the top spot.

The region has also been recognized as a top destination for new Canadians, recently ranking as one of the top-15 Canadian cities with the highest immigration.

So, what draws top global talent and companies to Waterloo?

Imagine being part of a community where everyone’s pushing the envelope, where your next coffee shop brainstorm could lead to the next big tech breakthrough. That’s the vibe in Waterloo.

With leading post-secondary and research institutions, the region is buzzing with brilliant minds and groundbreaking ideas. It’s a place where companies thrive on the energy of a highly educated and diverse workforce – all in a community that’s known for supporting tech advancements and making connections that matter.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to scale up, Waterloo’s supportive ecosystem will lift you higher. Its friendly, open atmosphere makes Waterloo the perfect landing spot for any business that’s feeling the H-1B pinch.

A tale of two immigration systems

One such success story is that of Odyssey Interactive, a growing video game studio that’s building Waterloo Region’s reputation in the gaming industry.

Co-founder Richard Henkel avoided the uncertainty of H-1B visa renewals in the US, opting instead for a warmer welcome in Waterloo. He found the visa process in Canada quick and straightforward, which helped his company hit the ground running and gain international praise with its first game, Omega Strikers.

“The games industry is a global industry. We knew that if we wanted to build a team that could make games for people all over the world, we needed our team to be a reflection of that. The immigration process here, in contrast to the United States, was incredible,” Henkel said in a recent interview.

Don’t leave it to chance

As the US tech industry works through H1-B challenges, Canada presents a compelling case for international expansion. With a welcoming immigration policy, a thriving tech ecosystem and a supportive community, Waterloo is a land of opportunity for businesses and talent focused on growth and stability.

How Waterloo EDC Helps

We understand the ins and outs of global talent acquisition and business expansion. Our complimentary concierge services are designed to help businesses navigate their journey to Waterloo.

From immigration assistance to finding the perfect office space to integrating into the local tech ecosystem, we’re here to support every step of the way.

Learn more about how we help US companies move their workforce to Canada.