One of the key elements of the strategy is the introduction of a new innovation stream under the International Mobility Program (IMP)
The Canadian Immigration Minister, Sean Fraser, recently unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at attracting global tech talent to Canada. Known as Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy, these measures encompass a range of initiatives and improvements to existing programs, all with the goal of addressing labor shortages, fostering economic growth, and expanding Canada’s talent base in the tech sector.
The IRCC plans to develop this stream in order to attract highly talented tech individuals and address labor shortages in critical tech occupations, ultimately enhancing Canada’s talent pool. The launch of the innovation stream is expected by the end of 2023. Moreover, this stream will be exempt from the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, streamlining the hiring process and aligning with Canada’s tech industry priorities. The IRCC is currently considering two options: employer-specific work permits for up to five years and open work permits for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.
In addition to the innovation stream, the IRCC aims to position Canada as an attractive destination for digital nomads. Collaboration with private and public partners will be vital in determining if additional policies are required to effectively attract and accommodate digital nomads. Currently, Canadian immigration laws only allow digital nomads to stay in the country for up to six months while working remotely for a foreign employer. The IRCC hopes to encourage these digital nomads to choose Canada as their base and explore employment opportunities with Canadian employers.
The IRCC is also working on enhancing existing tech programs to benefit high-skilled workers in the industry
The Global Skills Strategy, designed to facilitate quick access to highly skilled foreign talent for Canadian employers, has resumed normal processing times for work permit applications. Additionally, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is meeting the two-week processing standard for Global Talent Stream Labor Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), while the IRCC is meeting the same standard for work permit applications. This streamlining of processes will ensure efficient and timely entry of foreign talent into Canada’s tech sector.
The Start Up Visa program, which provides a pathway to permanent residence for foreign entrepreneurs, has undergone improvements as well. Additional spots have been allocated to address lengthy wait times for applicants. This expansion of the program aims to triple the number of permanent residents expected in the Federal Business category for 2023 and subsequent years. To further support entrepreneurs, the IRCC has introduced changes to the temporary work permit option under the Start Up Visa program. Instead of a one-year work permit limited to their own start-up, applicants will now be eligible for an open work permit of up to three years. This change allows each member of the entrepreneurial team, rather than just essential members, to apply for the work permit.
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Furthermore, the IRCC has implemented a special work permit for H1-B specialty occupation visa holders in the US. This initiative enables H1-B visa holders and their accompanying family members to come to Canada and obtain an open work permit for up to three years, granting them the flexibility to work for any employer across the country. Spouses and dependents will also have the opportunity to apply for a temporary resident visa with work and study permits as needed. This measure will remain in effect for one year or until the IRCC receives 10,000 applications, with only principal applicants counting towards the application limit.
Aside from the Tech Talent Strategy, there are other avenues available for tech workers to immigrate to Canada.
Express Entry category-based draws were recently introduced, prioritizing candidates with strong French language proficiency or work experience in fields such as healthcare, science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), trades, transport, and agriculture. These category-based draws aim to meet specific economic goals and fill labor market vacancies. Candidates in the Express Entry pool are ranked using the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS),
which assesses various factors such as age, education, language skills, and work experience. Additionally, specific Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams cater to foreign tech workers, including the Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway and the British Columbia PNP Tech, which offer expedited pathways for eligible candidates in tech occupations. Quebec also offers the Facilitated Processing Stream, which enables Quebec employers to hire temporary foreign skilled workers in target occupations, benefiting the tech industry in particular.
Overall, Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy is a comprehensive approach to attracting global tech talent and addressing labor shortages in key tech occupations. Through the introduction of innovative streams, improvements to existing programs, and collaboration with various stakeholders, Canada aims to position itself as a premier destination for tech professionals, fostering innovation, economic growth, and diversity in its tech sector