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Indian techies welcome in Canada after Trump ban

Toronto: Indian-origin tech leaders in Canada say the controversial visa and travel restrictions imposed by US President Donald Trump will be a boon for tech recruitment and investment in Canada.

"This provides a great opportunity for the best talent from India to come, live and work in Canada," said Shafin Diamond Tejani, the CEO of Fantasy 360, a Vancouver-based global leader in creating immersive experiences and games using Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

"We are already getting inquiries from Indian techies, both in India and in the United States, about relocating to Vancouver," said Tejani, whose family is originally from Gujarat.

Together with his partner Ray Walia, another NRI in Vancouver who runs the not-for-profit tech incubator Launch Academy, Tejani is working on streamlined avenues to attract top tech talent from India.

The duo is part of the Canadian technology community that has written to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to provide visas to those caught by Trump's executive orders.

"In choosing to hire, train, and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy," said the letter adding, "By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world."

Tejani and his associates have a target of bringing a dozen Indian start-ups with a focus on VR/AR/MR to British Columbia, which also has a shortage of programmers and other skilled IT professionals.

"We are confident we will be able to this," said Tejani, whose companies have launched over 40 start-ups in 21 different countries, employing over 350 people and generating over $100 million in annual revenues.

For Ray Walia, who co-founded Launch Academy in 2012 to become Vancouver's top startup-incubator, the situation in the US has prompted his group to set up specialised services for Indian techies looking to relocate to Canada. 

Walia has developed a programme at Launch Academy that leverages the Canadian Startup Visa Program. The programme helps international start-ups relocate their head offices to Canada and within six months grant Permanent Residency in Canada for up to five key members of a startup and their family members.

"We as leaders and peers need to ensure that the proper infrastructure, support, and education is in place to help the next wave of young entrepreneurs around the world build technology and global businesses that will help shape the future for all of us," said Walia, whose other family business has also organised over 200 Bollywood concerts around the world. 

"The Launch Academy Startup Visa Program allows Indians to have the best of both worlds and build their businesses from Canada and continue to not only service the Indian market but also to continue to grow domestic operations in India as well."

Analysts predict that India's IT outsourcing industry, worth around $108 billion and employing some four million people, will start looking elsewhere if the American restrictions are enacted.

Three bills have been introduced in the US Congress seeking to revamp the H-1B visa programme, which India's IT sector uses to send thousands of highly-skilled workers to America every year.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh100@gmail.com)

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