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Knowledge Borders

Temporary Labor Mobility and the Canada–US Border Region

Kathrine E. Richardson

Key sections of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal with temporary labor mobility. Ideally, NAFTA status provisions should make the temporary movement of professionals easier across the border of all NAFTA countries. However, in the case of some key sectors, it is arguably not the case. Within the context of recent literature on cross-border trade, city regions, regionalism, international labor mobility, and post-September 11 security measures, this book probes the dynamics of transitory immigration of ‘knowledge-workers’ between the North American west coast city regions of Vancouver, Seattle, and the greater San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley area. This book includes in-depth interviews with Canadian and US immigration officials, immigration attorneys and executives and professional staff of new technology firms and Fortune 500 companies. It ultimately explores whether or not the Canada–US border is an impediment to the development of a cross-border high-tech clusters.
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Kathrine E. Richardson

In order to begin to answer the driving research question as to whether the Canada–US border impedes the development of the Cascadia region as a high-technology region, a number of more general themes were relevant in framing this study. Thus, this chapter provides a review of diverse literatures and frameworks that have hitherto rarely been juxtaposed, namely the geography of borders and borderlands; the spatial dynamics of high-technology regions; transnationalism and labor mobility of the highly skilled; and cross-border institutions that facilitate or impede labor mobility. The chapter closes with a discussion of how they might be applied to research on highly skilled labor mobility within the Cascadia corridor specifically.

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Kathrine E. Richardson

Chapter 3 builds on the premise of the possibility of Cascadia as a high-tech region by exploring the economic history and contemporary economy of the Cascadia corridor with an emphasis on the urban regions of Seattle and Vancouver, BC, and how institutional apparatuses such as NAFTA may be central to the area’s future success. This chapter argues that a fundamental to understanding the economic characteristics and labor needs found in Cascadia is the realization of how it is different from the other more traditional goods and trade oriented border zones, such as Detroit–Windsor, Hong Kong–Shenzhen, and the San Diego–Tijuana, Mexico, border regions, and why transborder highly skilled labor mobility is essential to the evolving success of the Cascadia region.

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Kathrine E. Richardson

This particular chapter is the first of three that explores the results of the empirical data for this study. Specifically, the chapter reviews and assesses 25 interviews conducted with human resource executives and vice presidents of primarily high-tech and biotech firms based in Vancouver and Seattle as well as key R & D facilities of Seattle and San Francisco/Silicon Valley firms situated in Vancouver, Canada. It focuses on their experiences moving professionals back and forth across the Canada–US border as part of a growing continentalism under NAFTA and in light of a post 9/11 world.

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Kathrine E. Richardson

This chapter examines the varied roles of Canadian and American immigration officials in administering the Canada–US border in Cascadia, and is the second of three that reviews the empirical data for this study. Specifically, a total of 27 government officials were interviewed for this component of the research. These officials were interviewed at various Canada–US ports of entry, primarily within the Seattle–Vancouver corridor, as well as key Canadian and American policy officials who had developed and overseen the policies surrounding Chapter 16 of NAFTA. The study found that officials who developed the actual policies and laws that govern the management of the borders were critically important to the process of consistent border management. Thus, in the case of a continental-wide program such as NAFTA, it might be assumed that a common harmonious approach to administering status/visa applications at Canada–US ports of entry might be in force, especially after the 20 or so years since its inception in 1994. However, for a variety of reasons explored in this chapter, evidence suggested that this was arguably not the case. Indeed, local norms and values, together with issues such as institutional history, training programs, and separate national legislation, influenced substantially the interpretation and implementation of NAFTA on either side of the Canada–US border in Cascadia, as well as along the border at each port of entry.

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Kathrine E. Richardson

This particular chapter examines the role of business immigration lawyers, primarily within the more northern portion of the Cascadia region, and is the final chapter that reviews the empirical data for this study. A total of 23 semi-structured interviews took place with Canadian and US immigration attorneys who helped to facilitate the movement of high-technology professionals moving across the border under NAFTA and associated regulations. In regards to this study, immigration attorneys interviewed served since the early 1990s in a capacity as professional advocates and facilitators for NAFTA applicants, and in the contemporary period also had a wide breadth of knowledge about the labor mobility process and immigration law, especially when it involved crossing the US–Canada–Mexico borders. Consequently, this chapter seeks to understand the role of lawyers regarding how the Canada–US border operates in the Cascadia region and beyond. This component of the study was also significant as there is very little literature, if at all, on the role of business immigration attorneys in the movements of professional foreign workers across international boundaries. Thus, this chapter helps to provide more academic insights into the role and capacities that business immigration attorneys fill in the movement of professionals across North American borders.

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Kathrine E. Richardson

This chapter provides a conclusion to the study. The chapter begins with a summary of the empirical findings, which explore if the Canada–US border really is an impediment to the development of a high-tech region between Vancouver and Seattle. It then moves to determining what type of border bisects the transnational region of Cascadia and comments on the geography and border administration with regard to knowledge worker mobility. It closes with examining what are the implications of this study for theory, policy, and further research.

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Jonathan Corcoran and Alessandra Faggian

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Angelina Zhi Rou Tang, Jonathan Corcoran and Francisco Rowe

The number of domestically educated overseas graduates remaining in Australia after graduation has risen significantly since 2007. There is growing evidence to suggest that overseas graduates have a high probability of being employed in lower-skilled jobs that do not match their educational qualifications. A lack of spatial flexibility in terms of geographic mobility underlies this outcome. Prior work has examined the role of long-distance commuting in reducing the chance of experiencing an education_–job mismatch, but there is limited empirical research on the way migration acts as a strategy to overcome this misalignment. Compared to long-distance commuting, migration enables a larger geographical scope of job search and thus is regarded as offering a greater potential in mitigating education–job mismatch. Drawing on annual data from the Australian Graduate Survey between 2008 and 2012, this chapter examines the role of internal migration in lowering the likelihood of overseas graduates experiencing an education–job mismatch. Results highlight that migration leads to a reduction of education–job mismatch among overseas graduates. Nonetheless, the extent of this impact is marginal, lowering the probability by only 2–3 per cent. This modest effect is attributed to the tendency of overseas graduates to echo the settlement patterns of long-standing migrants and relocate to metropolitan regions that typically have a higher incidence of education–job mismatch.

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Graduate migration in Canada

An International Perspective

K. Bruce Newbold

Despite the broad interest in the migration of graduates, there is little comparative literature in the Canadian context. Based upon Statistics Canada’s National Graduates Survey, this chapter provides an exploratory analysis examining the migration behaviours of students following graduation from post-secondary institutions, while controlling for socio-demographic factors and various factors reflecting employment and education. Particular attention is paid to the type of post-graduate migration, distinguishing between repeat migrants (including return migrants) and first-time migrants who move post-graduation. In addition, the chapter examines differences in migration by type of degree, distinguishing post-secondary degree types including certificates and diplomas, which are typically granted by vocationally oriented colleges, and degrees such as bachelor’s, master’s or PhDs, which are typically granted by universities. Results are broadly consistent with the literature, with the level of human capital an important determinant of migration.