By Julie Gordon
VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc said on Friday that it will a open second corporate office in Vancouver, doubling its staff in the western Canadian city by early 2020 as it looks to tap into a burgeoning local tech workforce.
The Seattle-based company said the Vancouver expansion has been in the works for some time and is not related to the hotly contested race by cities across North America to land the e-commerce company’s $5 billion HQ2.
“These will be largely software engineering, tech and non-tech jobs, and they’ll be contributing to products that are used globally,” Jesse Dougherty, general manager for the Vancouver office, told reporters.
The Vancouver expansion comes as companies in the United States have struggled to secure visas in a timely fashion to import foreign workers to fill highly skilled and technical jobs.
President Donald Trump’s administration has made it tougher for skilled foreigners to work in the United States, challenging visa applications more regularly than at nearly any point under former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Tech companies have come to rely on such visas to fill many highly specialized jobs.
Amazon officials did not answer questions on whether the new office was in response to difficulties bringing foreign talent to its U.S. offices.
“Amazon likes to hire the smartest people we can find, and so Vancouver certainly is a place where we like to get that growth,” said Dougherty.
Canada launched a fast-track visa program for highly skilled workers in June, as it seeks to take advantage of a tougher immigration environment in the United States.
The expansion will see Amazon double its workforce in Vancouver to 2,000 by early 2020. The company currently employees about 4,400 people full time in Canada. Amazon employs more than 380,000 globally, with around 150,000 working outside of the United States.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)