Recently, Canada released its first-ever Tech Talent Strategy that targets to invite top-notch tech talent from across the globe. The Immigration Minister of Canada, Sean Fraser announced to take required measures to promote Canada as a preferred destination for tech professionals. The new strategy involves numerous initiatives, including the introduction of a new innovation stream, enhancing tech programs, and facilitating work permits for H1-B specialty occupation visa holders.
New Innovation Stream Under the International Mobility Program
The IRCC is developing a new innovation stream under the International Mobility Program (IMP) to tackle the critical shortage of skilled tech professionals and expand Canada’s talent pool. This program is likely to be launched by the end of this year. IRCC is considering including two options under this stream:
Employer-Specific Work Permits
This option allows workers to obtain permits for up to five years if they are destined to work for a company recognized by the Government of Canada as contributing to industrial innovation goals.
Open Work Permits
Highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations will be invited under this stream.
Improvements to Existing Tech Programs
The IRCC is committed to enhancing existing tech programs to better serve high-skilled workers. The Global Skills Strategy, designed to expedite the recruitment of foreign talent by Canadian employers, has resumed normal processing times for work permit applications.
The Start-Up Visa program exclusively offers a permanent residency pathway to foreign entrepreneurs to support Canadian venture capital funds, and angel investor organizations to name a few.This expansion aims to address the lengthy wait times for applicants.
Work Permit for H1-B Specialty Occupation Visa Holders
With effect from July 16th, 2023, IRCC introduced a measure to permit H1-B specialty occupation visa holders in the US and their accompanying family members to come to Canada with an open work permit for up to three years. This permit will grant them the freedom to work for any employer across the country. Spouses and dependents will also have the independence to apply for temporary resident visas.
Other Immigration Pathways for Tech Workers
In addition to the Tech Talent Strategy, Canada offers various work permit and immigration programs specifically tailored for foreign tech workers. The Express Entry system, based on category-based selection draws, prioritizes candidates with strong French language proficiency or work experience in key sectors such as healthcare, STEM fields, trades, transport, agriculture, and agri-food. The system enables the IRCC to invite top-ranking candidates in these categories who can address specific economic goals and fill labor market vacancies.
Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) allow provinces and territories to nominate foreign skilled workers based on their local labor market needs. Several provinces have established dedicated streams for tech professionals. For example, Alberta’s Accelerated Tech Pathway expedites the immigration process for tech workers who already have profiles in the Express Entry system and have job offers from eligible tech employers. British Columbia’s PNP Tech invites qualified candidates in 29 eligible tech occupations for permanent residency. Quebec’s Facilitated Processing Stream enables employers to hire temporary foreign-skilled workers in tech occupations, bypassing certain LMIA requirements.
Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy underscores the country’s commitment to attracting global tech professionals and fostering a thriving tech ecosystem. Through innovative measures such as the new innovation stream, attracting digital nomads, improving existing tech programs, and facilitating work permits for H1-B visa holders, Canada is poised to address labor shortages, stimulate economic growth, and encourage technological advancements.