Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy, announced by Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on June 27th, aims to attract global tech talent to Canada. The strategy includes several measures to enhance the country’s tech industry and address labor shortages in key tech occupations. These measures encompass the creation of a new innovation stream under the International Mobility Program (IMP), attracting digital nomads, improving labor mobility for H1-B specialty occupation visa holders, and enhancing existing tech programs such as the Global Skills Strategy and the Start-up Visa.
To address labor shortages and broaden Canada’s talent base, the IRCC plans to establish a new innovation stream under the IMP. This stream, set to launch by the end of 2023, will be exempt from the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) process, making it easier for employers and workers to support Canada’s tech industry.
Additionally, the IRCC aims to attract digital nomads to Canada by collaborating with private and public partners to determine if additional policies would be beneficial. Currently, digital nomads can only stay in Canada for up to six months while working remotely for a foreign employer. The IRCC hopes that by promoting Canada as a desirable destination, digital nomads will choose to stay and seek employment opportunities with Canadian employers.
The Global Skills Strategy, designed to provide Canadian employers with quick access to highly skilled foreign talent, has seen a return to normal processing times for work permit applications. The Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has met its two-week standard for processing Global Talent Stream Labor Market Impact Assessments (LMIAs), and the IRCC has met the two-week standard for work permit applications. Additionally, the Start-up Visa, which offers a path to permanent residence for foreign entrepreneurs supported by designated Canadian organizations, has allocated more spots to address lengthy wait times for applicants. This will significantly increase the number of permanent residents in the Federal Business category.
To facilitate the movement of high-tech workers between the US and Canada, the IRCC has introduced a work permit for H1-B specialty occupation visa holders. Spouses and dependents will also have the opportunity to apply for a temporary resident visa, including work and study permits if needed. This measure will be effective for one year or until the IRCC receives 10,000 applications, with only principal applicants counting towards the quota.
Express Entry category-based selection draws prioritize candidates with strong French language proficiency or work experience in fields such as healthcare, STEM, trades, transport, and agriculture. The first category-based draws for STEM professions took place on July 5th, where 500 applicants received Invitations to Apply (ITAs) for permanent residency. These draws complement other forms of Express Entry draws, where candidates in the pool are ranked based on the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) streams also offer pathways for tech workers to immigrate to specific provinces. The Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway provides a fast-track immigration program for tech professionals with an Express Entry profile and a job offer from an Alberta technology industry employer. The British Columbia PNP Tech, launched in 2017 and made permanent in 2021, issues weekly invitations to qualified candidates with valid job offers in eligible tech occupations. Quebec’s Facilitated Processing Stream allows employers in Quebec to hire temporary foreign skilled workers eligible under specific target occupations in the tech industry.
These initiatives demonstrate Canada’s commitment to attracting global tech talent and strengthening its tech industry. By implementing various measures, the country aims to address labor shortages, streamline immigration processes, and create a favorable environment for tech workers to thrive.