The Canadian government is leaning into Canada’s nascent status as a global frontrunner in tech talent recruitment and attraction, with the goal of not only satisfying current high-demand job vacancies but also drawing in the skills and business acumen necessary for the creation of future jobs.

This approach, unveiled by the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, centers around four primary components involving upgrades and additions to services provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Firstly, the government plans to introduce a new Innovation Stream to the International Mobility Program by the end of 2023. This move intends to bypass the labor market impact assessment process, facilitating high-growth employers and skilled workers in Canada’s innovation-focused and tech-oriented sectors.

The Innovation Stream proposal gives rise to two options, which can be applied concurrently. These include employer-specific work permits for up to five years for individuals working for a company acknowledged by the Canadian government as contributing to our industrial innovation goals, and open work permits for up to five years for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.

Secondly, the Canadian government seeks to promote the country as a haven for digital nomads – those who can work remotely from anywhere in the world. IRCC will work with both public and private partners to explore whether additional strategies for enticing digital nomads to Canada would be beneficial.

Thirdly, efforts are underway to streamline work permits for US H-1B specialty occupation visa holders. Beginning July 16, 2023, such workers and their immediate families will be eligible to apply to come to Canada on 3-year open work permits. This change extends the options available for skilled workers in the high-tech sector and adds value to the economic growth and prosperity in North America. The program is capped at 10,000 applicants.

Lastly, the government is amending existing programs catering to workers in high-skill tech occupations. Improvements are in progress for the Global Skills Strategy and the Start-up Visa Program.

The Global Skills Strategy, established in 2017, has experienced a recovery in processing times for work permit applications after pandemic-related delays. Meanwhile, the Start-up Visa Program, providing a pathway to permanent residency for foreign entrepreneurs, has also been allocated more spots under the 2023–2025 multi-year levels plan, easing the lengthy wait times.

Notably, the Start-up Visa Program will allow applicants to apply for an open work permit of up to three years, rather than a one-year work permit that confines them to their start-ups. This change facilitates easier and more attractive conditions for founders to come to Canada and establish their businesses.

This multifaceted approach represents the Canadian government’s commitment to fostering the country’s role as a leader in the global tech industry, setting the stage for strong economic growth in the coming years.

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