Best immigration options for tech workers relocating in Canada
Technology has been booming in Canada in recent years. The country’s favorable immigration policies are partially responsible for Canada’s success in technology sector and is a main reason behind why tech companies are considering Canada as a hub. Given President Trump’s recent announcement to suspend various employment visas, including H-1B, Canada is more than ever under the spotlight as a viable alternative for tech workers interested in leaving the U.S. Foreign workers willing to be relocated in Canada, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, have few options to consider:
Global Talent Stream
Canada has been proudly calling for skilled workers in tech industry under this program and facilitating a very quick entry for them on a work permit. This program enables Canadian employers to hire tech talent and bring them to Canada in about four weeks. The Global Talent Stream is one component of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy which has facilitated the arrival of remarkable number of tech workers to the country since 2017.
Intra-Company Transferees (ICT)
If you work for a tech company abroad that has an office in Canada, ICT might be the best pathway for you. An ICT candidate is an employee of an international corporation who has been working for the foreign company for at least one year within the past three years in any of the skilled or managerial positions, and is being temporarily transferred from a foreign enterprise to the Canadian subsidiary of the same enterprise. ICT applicants are eligible for LMIA-exempt work permit, which gives them a huge bonus when it comes to application processing time. The processing time will be even more accelerated when the applicant is a citizen of any of the visa-exempt countries.
One of Canada’s most popular permanent residence programs for tech workers is Express Entry. In fact, tech workers are the main occupational group of immigrants who move to Canada through Express Entry. The quick nature of the program (6 months processing time) is one of the major benefits to the applicants, as well as the ability to obtain an open work permit for the applicants in Canada who have received ITA (invitation to apply) from the immigration office. Before getting into the Express Entry pool of candidates, the eligibility for the program will be determined by a few criteria such as age, education, language skills, adaptability and work experience.
In Canada, provinces and territories also have the Constitutional right to operate immigration programs in order to fulfill their labour market needs. Two of the most notable provincial programs designed for tech workers are offered by the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The Ontario Tech Pilot is for workers who have experience in one of six tech occupations. Candidates need to have an Express Entry profile. Ontario has held two Tech Pilot draws in 2020, including one during the pandemic, in May, which saw considerable number of successful applicants receive invitations for a provincial nomination. B.C.’s Tech Pilot invites immigration candidates to apply for a provincial nomination on an almost weekly basis so long as they have a job offer in one of 29 tech occupations. The province has held 14 tech draws in 2020, including earlier this month.
The Start-Up Visa program has recently been drawing a lot of attention for tech companies coming from south of border. It allows foreign entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to apply for permanent residency if they are able to secure a significant investment commitment from a designated Canadian angel investor group, venture capital fund or business incubator in Canada. Once the applicants receive approval from any of these private investment entities, they would be able to file the PR application. The bonus is Canada facilitates the entry of foreign entrepreneurs early in the process by LMIA-exempt work permit to start their business venture while their permanent residence application is being processed.
Even during the pandemic, Canada remains open to global tech talent who want to call this country their new home. If you are a tech company or worker and would like to know details about what would be your options in Canada, please contact our office and we will gladly assist you.