Canadians living and working in the U.S. under the NAFTA treaty could be forced to return north as President-elect Donald Trump threatens to rip up the 1994 agreement.
Trump described the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico as the worst ever signed by America during his campaign for election.
Although much of his rhetoric has softened since beating Hillary Clinton to the White House, at the very least he can be expected to renegotiate the terms of the deal.
Under NAFTA, Canadians can get a specially issued visa if they secure a job offer from an American company.
Thousands have taken the opportunity to cross the border and work in the U.S. – and Trump’s election win and threat to end the treaty has them feeling extremely insecure.
Trump was quoted as saying the U.S. loses out significantly to Canada under the terms of the deal, saying the trade deficit was ‘tremendous’ during a campaign speech.
Experts are speculating about exactly what Trump will do, ranging from halting the deal entirely to getting around the table with representatives from Mexico and Canada and thrashing out new terms.
Whatever happens in the future, for those Canadians working in the U.S. with a Treaty NAFTA visa, the current period is one of huge uncertainty.
Meanwhile, Canada’s move to make it easier for technology companies to bring in sought-after skilled workers could not be better timed given what is happening across the border.
With a wave of Trump-related uncertainty spread across the U.S., industry experts see at the very least an initial short term benefit to Canada’s competitiveness in attracting top technology talent.
If Trump follows through on some of the anti-immigration rhetoric that was central to his victorious campaign, Canada’s competitive advantage could grow into something more long term.
But for now, the focus among the big technology firms here is to pick up some talent who are put off the U.S. by the prospect alone of a Trump presidency. Then there are those who may no longer qualify for U.S. immigration because of Trump’s plan to tighten the American borders.
Several Canadian technology companies have reported a surge in interest from Silicon Valley workers looking to make the move north since Trump surged to become the president-elect of the U.S.
As well as technology companies looking for new talent, Canadian universities are seeing an unprecedented surge in interest from potential international students following Trump’s victory.
America has traditionally dominated the market for foreign students, but fears over what Trump’s presidency could mean for life in the country as an immigrant means many are now looking north of the border at what Canadian schools have to offer.
It means that traditional fears over the ‘brain drain’ from Canada to the U.S. could be flipped into a ‘brain gain’, as bright young people look to move in the other direction, or disregard America completely in favour of Canada.
The perceptions of Canada and the U.S. could not be more different in the international community. While the U.S. was electing Trump on November 8, Canada has recently announced sustained record immigration numbers and tweaked its immigration system to help satisfy economic needs.
One of those tweaks will make it easier for international students to begin their working lives in Canada once they graduate, a policy change so timely in terms of what is happening in the U.S. that it appears to have been made in reaction to Trump’s victory.
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