Has Microsoft Found A "Temporary Worker" Loophole In Canada?
July 12, 2007, 05:00 AM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF

Bill Gates has been threatening to move Microsoft out of the United States unless Congress authorized more H-1B visas—for (allegedly) temporary workers. His blackmail strategy didn't work because Congress didn't give him the H-1Bs he demanded.

Now Gates is reportedly making good on his threat by moving a Microsoft division to Canada. Gates hates losing so, now he is throwing a hissy fit.

Microsoft's announced move is a brilliant PR ploy. News articles are appearing all over the country proclaiming that the Microsoft move is proof positive we need more H-1B visas.

The amusing thing is that, despite the scare mongering over a shortage of H-1B visas, Microsoft has actually admitted it would have moved even if H-1B immigration was increased:

"Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said that while the immigration issue was a factor, the company would be opening the center in Vancouver even if it were not for the immigration challenges." [Microsoft sings 'O Canada' amid immigration challenges By Ina Fried and Anne Broache, CNET News.com]

But you would never know what Microsoft said if you read the Los Angeles Times and other papers who think the move to Canada is proof positive that the sky is falling: 

"High-tech companies are so frustrated by the limits on visas for skilled labor that they're not just opening offices in India and China to recruit local talent. They're also putting facilities in places like Vancouver for prized recruits from around the world—many of them trained at U.S. universities—who cannot work here. "[Microsoft moves north, July 10, 2007]

Reuters actually had a similar quote from Lou Gellos. But right up at the top of the article, you still get the impression that a lack of H-1B visas is causing a mass exodus:

"It may signal the start of a new hiring trend, with other U.S. high-tech firms following in Microsoft's footsteps to Canada, where lawyers say it is easier for foreign nationals to obtain work credentials…"  [Microsoft expands in Canada amid U.S. visa crunch By Jim Finkle and Allan Dowd, Reuters, July 5, 2007]

You gotta like this one—an immigration lawyer calls Microsoft's actions a fulfillment of a "promise". It would be far more honest to say Microsoft is making good on its threat to blackmail the American middle class.

"Microsoft and other companies have been saying for a long time, 'If you make it so difficult for U.S. companies to bring in talented foreign national that they need, companies are going to fill those positions abroad,'" said Ted Ruthizer, [send him mail] who runs the business immigration practice for the U.S. law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel.

"This is just the fulfillment of this promise," Ruthizer said.

I have several thoughts on the Microsoft move.

Thought #1: Microsoft's move is more of a problem for Canada than for us. As Microsoft imports large numbers of foreign workers into Canada, then the resultant problems they cause with unemployment and overpopulation are Canada's, not ours. Canada makes it very easy for foreign workers to immigrate. As this CTV article explains, Canada has no limit on the number of employment visas. So it's no surprise that Microsoft is slobbering over the prospect of importing a vast new pool of cheap labor.

Thought #2: There is a common belief that Washington State in particular and the U.S. in general will lose jobs because of Microsoft's move. There is hysteria that other companies will follow suit.

But what none of the news articles mention is the fact that if Bill Gates would have gotten his H-1B visa increase, Microsoft would be hiring foreign workers—not Americans. It makes no difference to Americans whether foreigners are employed in Canada or whether the H-1Bs are allowed to work in Microsoft—the jobs are lost either way.

Thought #3: There may be more to the Microsoft move than meets the eye—which of course means that the only one who will see what's going on is me (and of course all of you who are savvy enough to read VDARE.COM or subscribe to my newsletter!).

The Canadian Microsoft plant in Vancouver is a two hour drive away from its Redmond campus. It will be very easy for Microsoft to obtain TN (Trade NAFTA) visas for anyone it wants to transfer between the two locations. Basically the Canadian location is a backdoor into the U.S.—which allows Microsoft to escape the H-1B cap. TN visas will allow Bill Gates to thumb his nose at us.

TN visas are unlimited. So Microsoft will have no problem moving as many people as it wants to the U.S.

I have been warning for years that the TN visa is a time bomb. But very few people seem to appreciate how this visa can be used to transfer people between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.

Thank NAFTA. As far as NAFTA is concerned, moving people across the Canadian border or cars across the Mexican border is nothing more than the movement of commodities.

Lou Dobbs has already reported that the Chinese are going to use NAFTA to sell cars in the USA by building them in Mexico and then exporting them to the U.S.

And since Canada allows dual citizenship, it would be very easy for an Indian national, for example, to get Canadian citizenship and then legally obtain a TN visa. How screwed up is that?

Canada makes it very easy for foreign workers to become naturalized citizens. It's also very quick and easy to get a visa in Canada that's similar to an H-1B.

"The Canadian government has specific programs for quickly bringing high-tech workers with certain skills into the country, a process that can take two to eight weeks, said Evan Green, an immigration attorney and partner at Toronto-based law firm Green & Spiegel."[Canada seeks foreign workers, by Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld, July 11 2007]

This statement makes it even clearer:

"Sergio Karas, an immigration attorney based in Canada, also believes Microsoft's move to Canada is in reaction to U.S. immigration policy.' This move by Microsoft is H-1B driven. There is no cap in Canada. Depending on the country of origin, we usually prepare an application, and in three weeks, a person can be working here,' said Karas." [Microsoft takes a big step to near-shoring in Canada Ephraim Schwartz, Infoworld, July 9, 2007]

Canada even has an organization that rivals our ITAA—it's called Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC). Quoted in the Computerworld article cited above, the president of the ICTC, Paul Swinwood, [send him mail] sounds just like the ex-president of the ITAA, Harris Miller:

"[Canada] has been basically built by immigration. We're a country that looks at immigration as part of our natural birthright and the supply of the growth of the country."

Our H-1B policy is downright sane compared to Canada's fast track to unlimited numbers of work visas. But will Canada's "temporary" immigrant workers now be coming here?

Thought #4: Corporate blackmail like this latest from Microsoft can be stopped—but only when we as a nation refuse to allow the "faith based" economists to force free trade down our throats.

If our country had the backbone to put heavy trade tariffs on corporate misfits like Microsoft, it wouldn't be economical for them to continue to export our jobs.

And it goes without saying that eliminating corporate welfare programs like H-1B would help save jobs for Americans. 

Of course, the "free trade" ideologues in our government won't allow this anytime soon. And the voters are not informed about the damage that is happening on a daily basis to our economy—so nothing changes.

One thing we don't want to do is to award companies by expanding the H-1B visa program. Kissing Bill Gates rear end by increasing H-1B means that the displacement of American workers will be perpetuated.

Whenever you see a Congressman groveling on his or her knees to Gates, pull them back up on their feet, and slap them until they start acting like American patriots!

Rob Sanchez (email him) is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization and author of the "Job Destruction Newsletter" (sign up for it here) at www.JobDestruction.com. To make a tax-deductible donation to Rob Sanchez, click here.