Canadian Engineering Office Setup Guide

Source: Inovia VC

Did you know that Amazon, Google, Square, Microsoft, Grammarly, Coursera, and Brex have Canadian Engineering offices?

It’s true, many fast growing tech companies are setting up a remote Engineer office Canada.

Why, you may ask?

Well, mostly to expand their talent pool, hire faster and retain talent for longer all while expanding runway by leveraging government grants. 

For example, programs like the Global Talent Stream visa allow companies to relocate tech talent to Canada in 2 months. There is also the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) which allows you to get up to 35% of your developer salary paid for by the Federal Government.

We’ve created this guide to explain the necessary steps to do this for yourself. We hope it helps! 

Step 1. Open a Canadian subsidiary? Talk to a lawyer or consultant about the law and tax implications first.

Opening subsidiaries costs just CAD $1000 (USD $750) and takes 1 week.

But make sure you speak to a good lawyer or consultant to figure out first whether you should register as a subsidiary or branch office.

Each legal definition can come with different tax implications, where for example, your company might be liable for tax on income from global operations versus only its Canadian operations.

Step 2. Hire a Site Lead or become the Site Lead yourself to start.

You want to be able to hire someone you trust to run the office. It can be yourself to start or someone experienced who can bridge the gap between HQ and your Canadian office. Note: if you’re remote, you can just have everyone on the same team. 

Also, keep in mind that in some provinces and jurisdictions it’s required that a quarter of your Directors are Canadian residents. So when you’re building your leadership team, make sure you’re also looking at candidates up North to fill in this gap.

Step 3. Set up a Remote Friendly Culture.

Set up Github, Slack, Zoom, and your remote stack to be able to work well with your new office and team members.

And the tech tools aren’t enough. If your office is remote, make sure you set up remote working policies, like how meetings should be conducted, default do-not-disturb hours, and guidelines on how quick employees should respond to communication. 

Also, don’t forget to think about your team-building culture. Plan for initiatives where your team can get together for informal Zoom gatherings, like an end of week happy hour cocktail party, so that they can get to know each other at a personal level, tell stories and build bonds that will lead to a better online working environment.

Even with the shift to remote work, real-world connections are still important. Planning company retreats, where your team can get to know each other in real life, can help foster bonds for your team to work better with each other when they return to their remote locations. 

Side Bonus: Add diversity to your team faster by searching globally

By widening the scope of your talent search, you are far more likely to hire diverse candidates. 

In fact, VanHack is specifically working with and Accenture to source Female Developers for them.

Further, a variety of new platforms are providing employers direct channels to different tech talent in marginalized communities. Here’s a list of 21 companies focused on various segments of these communities.

USA vs. Canada Hiring Comparison:

Factor US / Local Canada
Timeline to hire 6-12 months (or more…) ~ 2 months
Salary USD $150,000 – $100,000 USD $70,000 – $50,000 (Half)
Location Local Remote in same time zone, can visit anytime with B1 Visa
Diversity Limited to local candidates Global talent pool with diverse developers


Where to find talent:

  1. Local startups and universities

    Canada’s best universities for fresh engineer talent? The University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Waterloo, McGill, and the University of Alberta round out Maclean’s top five.

  2. VanHack Talent pool

    With our talent community of over 180,000 tech professionals, we can very quickly source top tech talent that is ready to relocate to Canada for you. You can search through the talent pool here. We send you qualified candidates within 24-48 hours.

    We help companies like Brex, Accenture, and and many others hire tech talent and have a very wide range of skills. Also, we pride ourselves on the hardest to find skills.

  3. Apply for the Canadian Global Talent Stream Visa to bring Talent to Canada quickly.

    Our in-house Global Mobility team will provide step by step help in applying for the Global Skills Visa.

    This guide explains exactly what you need to do, but you won’t need to worry about a thing. We make sure everything is filled out properly and submitted on your behalf.

We’ve have our in house Global Mobility team to provide you step by step help in applying for the Global Skills Visa.

This guide explains exactly what you need to do, but you won’t need to worry about a thing. We make sure everything is filled out properly and submitted on your behalf.

Recent examples of companies that moved to major Canadian tech hubs and why. 

Databricks opens major engineering centre in Toronto – why that’s a big deal for Canada. The AI and Machine Learning SaaS company, Databricks, needed more engineering talent after originally launching in San Francisco, and expanding to Amsterdam. Where did they decide to open an engineering office next? Toronto! Why? It best fits their criteria of:

  • A high concentration of local software engineers.
  • Easy access and direct flights to their San Francisco head office.
  • English speaking locality with friendly immigration policies for top talent.

Uber launched an engineering hub in Toronto to attract local and global engineer talent, while also working with some of the prestigious Canadian universities in research and development of self-driving cars.

Quora opened its first international engineering office in Vancouver. Why?

  • Vancouver’s growing engineer talent base.
  • Canada’s friendly immigration policies for digitally-skilled talent. 
  • Vancouver’s global reputation for a “high quality of life.”
  • A short flight to Mountain View head office in Silicon Valley. 

Cloud-based tech firm Zenoti opens new Vancouver office. The company opened in Vancouver after expanding to places like Manchester, Brisbane, Dubai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila. Why Vancouver next?

“This expansion will provide greater career and mobility opportunities to our existing teams, and enable us to recruit new talent to build and strengthen our customer relationships and provide world-class support across the globe,” Zenoti CEO, Sudheer Koneru, said in a statement about the move.

The common themes in these case studies? Canada is booming with tech talent, has friendly immigration policies and its quality of life can’t be ignored. 


Just email [email protected] or set up a call here.

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