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article imageCDN tech companies want visas for those affected by U.S. ban

By Arthur Weinreb     Jan 31, 2017 in Technology
Leaders of Canadian tech companies penned an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging Canada to issue immediate visas to potential employees who have been adversely affected by the American travel ban imposed upon citizens of seven countries.
The idea for the letter began Saturday in a Facebook group, the day after the executive order was signed. Allen Lau, CEO of Wattpad, said the group began with 30 people but quickly increased to hundreds due to the closely-knit nature of the Canadian tech industry. Lau is only one of many tech leaders who have spoken out against the travel ban.
Friday’s executive order imposed an immediate travel ban on seven predominately Muslim countries: Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Yemen. The tech companies drafted the letter after the prime minister tweeted Canadians will welcome those fleeing persecution, terror and war.
SEE ALSO: Canada will accept refugees banned from entering U.S.: Trudeau
The letter stated the tech industry understands diversity and the benefits immigration brings. It went on to say many people in the tech industry are immigrants or children of immigrants. By embracing diversity, these companies can drive innovation and grow the economy. It read in part, “Talent and skill knows no borders. In choosing to hire, train and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world.”
The open letter asks the Canadian government to issue work visas to those who are affected by the ban so they can begin work immediately while they apply for permanent residency status in Canada.
The tech world is competitive and Canadian tech workers are often lured out of the country. Currently there are an estimated 300,000 Canadians working in the Silicon Valley alone. Last year, when the U.S. election campaign was in full swing, there was a 54 percent increase work visa applications made by highly skilled workers. The tech industry has a lot of foreign workers, many whom are citizens of one of the seven countries.
CTV reports after the letter went online Sunday, more than 2,200 people had signed it by Monday morning. The signatories include executives and employees of Twitter, Google, Shopify, Kijiji, Microsoft and PayPal.
Protests against travel ban held throughout Canada
Members of the tech companies are not the only Canadians protesting Trump’s travel ban. Yesterday, a large demonstration was held outside the U.S. Consulate in Toronto to show their displeasure with the executive order. Hundreds of people marched from the consulate to Toronto City Hall to protest the travel restrictions. Similar protests were held in Ottawa, Vancouver and other areas throughout the country. The consulate was closed for business most of the day.
The government has not yet said what if any policy changes might be made regarding immigrants and refugees who are affected by Friday’s travel ban.
More about canadian tech companies, Executive order, Donald trump, Justin trudeau, work visas
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