Canada and Tech in 2023
Canada’s Immigration-friendly policy is credited with positioning the country among the leading tech hubs in the world. The country has been receiving an increasing number of tech talent who have been instrumental in tiding over shortages faced by the rapidly growing sector.
Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy
Promoting Canada as a destination for digital nomads was among the four pillars in Canada’s push to recruit and attract global tech talent under the former Minister of Immigration, Sean Fraser. These four pillars are as follows:
Attracting Digital Nomads
Who are Digital Nomads?
A Digital Nomad is a person who travels and works remotely using the power of technology and the internet. The Lifestyle is growing in popularity, with many workers and workplaces already accustomed to the nature of remote work- owing to the 2020 pandemic. Digital nomads take advantage of increased connectivity in modern times, choosing to work out of select locations that may be miles from any office.
According to a 2022 survey by Robert Half, most Tech professionals in Canada prefer hybrid (55%) or fully remote positions (48%), with only 33% opting for a fully in-office position. Factors cited for the preference for remote work include not having to commute daily, a better work-life balance, higher productivity and the freedom to move to a city with a lower cost of living.
Current policy for Digital nomads
The IRCC is working with public and private bodies to identify new policies to attract digital nomads. Currently, digital nomads working for an employer outside Canada can live and work remotely from Canada for up to 6 months at a time with a visitor visa.
A new Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program
What is the International Mobility Program?
The International Mobility Program lets Canadian employers hire Temporary Foreign workers without a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) by submitting an offer of employment through the Employer portal. Workers arriving under this program must apply for a Canadian work permit using the employment offer.
The new Innovation Stream for high-tech professionals
The Government is set to extend this LMIA exception to Tech workers through a new Innovation Stream expected to launch by the end of 2023. The IRCC is also considering:
- Employer-specific work permits for up to 5 years for workers working in companies that contribute to Canada’s industrial innovation goals.
- Open work permits for up to 5 years for highly skilled workers in in-demand occupations, including tech.
Creating a streamlined work permit for H-1B holders in the US coming to Canada
What is the H-1B specialty occupation visa?
The H-1B specialty occupation visa allows American employers to temporarily hire non-immigrant aliens for specialty occupations requiring highly specialized knowledge or a bachelor’s degree.
Canadian work permits for H-1B holders.
The streamlined work permit for H-1B holders will also cater to many workers in high-tech fields working for companies with operations in both the US and Canada. Starting July 16, these US H-1B specialty occupation visa holders can come to Canada on Open work permits lasting up to 3 years. The provisions are also extended to their family members who are eligible to apply for a Temporary resident visa with a work or study permit as required.
Improvements to existing Immigration programs
The new Tech Talent strategy also involves plans to improve the existing Global Skills Strategy and the Start-up Visa programs most commonly used by highly skilled professionals.
What is the Global Skills Strategy
The Global Skills Strategy helps Canadian employers find highly skilled workers with faster application processing times, work permit exemptions and enhanced customer service.
The pandemic badly affected these promised servicing standards that have only recently recovered with the help of Employment and Social Development Canada and the IRCC.
Today, the Global Skills Strategy meets the two-week processing standard for LMIA of employers and work permit applications.
What is Canada’s Start-Up visa?
Canada’s Start-Up Visa (SUV) allows foreign entrepreneurs with the skills to build businesses to immigrate to Canada. The catch is that the business must be innovative, create jobs for Canadians and be able to compete on a global scale.
Improvements to the Start-up visa
Given that the SUV supports many tech entrepreneurs, the IRCC has increased allocations to the program under the 2023-2025 Immigration Levels plan. The Temporary work permit option of the program is also due for a rework with options for a three-year Open work permit as an alternative to the one-year work permit.
The work permit will also be made available to each entrepreneurial team member instead of the current practice, allowing only members deemed essential and urgently needed in Canada.
The change also includes prioritization for applications supported by business incubators with capital.
Tech Immigration in 2023
Canada welcomed 32,115 new tech workers between April 2022 and March 2023, according to a report by the Technology Councils of North America (TECNA) and Canada’s Tech Network (CTN). India contributed significantly to this tech migration with 15,087 workers, while Nigeria and Brazil contributed 1808 and 1675 tech workers, respectively.
Overwhelming response to Canada’s Open Work Permit for US H-1B visa holders in opening 48 hours
The Open Work Permit for US H-1B visa holders was opened to the public on July 16, 2023, and quickly surpassed expectations, with the initial 10,000 slots filled within the first two days. The IRCC is yet to announce any enhancements on the program’s maximum cap for the coming months.