The Canadian Government has launched new immigration pathways to recruit foreign tech talents into the country’s digital ecosystem.
The Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, announced this during the Collision 2023 event held on Tuesday.
Fraser said the new immigration strategy aimed to address the skills gap and talent shortage in Canada’s tech sector, which is one of the fastest-growing and most innovative in the world.
He noted that the new pathways would make it easier and faster for foreign tech workers and entrepreneurs to come to Canada and contribute to the country’s digital economy.
“With Canada’s first-ever immigration Tech Talent Strategy, we’re targeting newcomers that can help enshrine Canada as a world leader in a variety of emerging technologies,” Fraser said.
The minister added that the government is streamlining applications to its startup visa programme after allocating more spots for 2023 by extending the length of work permits given out to entrepreneurs through the programme.
Fraser said part of the strategy was the development of an “innovation stream” which would provide open work permits for up to five years for highly skilled workers in “select in-demand occupations” and for a similar duration for those employed by companies identified by the government as contributing to the country’s innovation goals.
He added that Canada will also seek to attract “digital nomads”. That will allow those working for foreign employers to live and work in Canada for six months. “Should they receive a job offer while they’re here, we’re going to allow them to continue to stay at work in Canada.”
Applicants can apply for three-year open work permits instead of one-year permits limited to the applicant’s own startup, and the permit will be available to each member of an entrepreneurial team instead of only the most essential, the government said in a statement.
“We’re also going to issue open work permits for three years for them and their families to be in Canada while they wait for their applications to be completed,” Fraser said.
Also, the new pathways extend opportunities to holders of the H-1B specialty occupation visa in the United States. They can now apply for Canadian work permits as well as study or work permit options for their accompanying family members.
The Canadian work permit for H-1B visa holders will be available starting on Sunday, July 16, and will remain open for one year or until Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada receives 10,000 applications. Fraser said this was being initiated even as there is a “public narrative around layoffs” in the US, particularly in the tech sector.
The final piece of the project is a digital nomad strategy allowing people working for foreign companies to stay in Canada for up to six months – and if they get a job offer while in Canada, the government will allow them to stay and work here, said Fraser.
Fraser also stated that it has resolved pandemic processing delays for its Global Skills Strategy programme, promising to process work permits in just two weeks.