Microsoft sings 'O Canada' amid immigration challenges

Following the failure of an immigration bill that would have expanded the number of foreign high-tech workers that could have come to the U.S. under so-called H1-B visas, Microsoft has decided to open a development center in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It will be "home to software developers from around the world. The Vancouver area is a global gateway with a diverse population, is close to Microsoft's corporate offices in Redmond, and allows the company to recruit and retain highly skilled people affected by immigration issues in the U.S.," said Microsoft.

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. That said, Vancouver is particularly attractive since it is a short drive from Redmond, Washington, but not bound by U.S. immigration policies. Microsoft plans to start with a couple hundred workers, but is looking for a spot "with room to grow," Gellos said. "We haven't finalized the actual facility or the site yet. Once we get an indication of where we can do the center, that will help us to clarify the numbers."

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