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Canada: New Tech Talent Strategy Announced | Tafapolsky & Smith LLP

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29 Jun 2023

Canada

Canada: New Tech Talent Strategy Announced

On June 27, 2023, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced plans for a new Tech Talent Strategy aimed at attracting talent in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) sectors into Canada. The Canadian government acknowledges that Canada’s high growth industries will provide the jobs of the future, and companies need access to talent that will fuel innovation and drive emerging technologies forward. In furtherance of this strategy, several changes and enhancements to policies and programs were revealed, including the following:

Startup Visa Program for Entrepreneurs

The government plans to streamline how it prioritizes applications to its startup visa program after allocating more spots for 2023. Work permits for entrepreneurs will be extended to three years, from the current one year. Families will benefit from the issuance of open work permits for the same three-year period. Future increases in the number of spots are planned for 2024 and 2025.

Open Work Permit Stream for H-1B Holders in the U.S.

Recognizing the mass layoffs that occurred in the U.S. tech sector, Canada sees an opportunity to recruit that talent into Canada. As a response, the Canadian government is creating an open work permit stream for H-1B visa holders in the U.S. to relocate to Canada to work. Starting on July 16, 2023, 10,000 U.S.-based H-1B workers and their immediate family members will be able to apply for open work permits of up to three years, enabling employment with almost any Canadian employer. This program will remain in effect for one year, or until IRCC receives 10,000 applications. We anticipate more details regarding how the application process will work and what qualifications are required will be announced in the coming weeks before the new stream launches.

Innovation Stream

Canada will develop an innovation stream under the International Mobility Program to attract talent in key tech occupations. This stream will exempt highly skilled workers from the labor market impact assessment process (labor market test) to streamline the hiring process for high-growth employers aligned with Canada’s innovation priorities and high-tech industries.

Digital Nomad Strategy

Canada’s digital nomad strategy will allow people with a foreign employer to stay and work in Canada for up to six months. If they get a job offer in Canada, they could remain in Canada even longer.

STEM Selection Round for Express Entry Permanent Residence

The government also announced that it will introduce a category-based selection round under the Express Entry route targeting STEM occupations during its draw the week of July 5th This draw will not just focus on points that a candidate possesses but will focus on selecting candidates with STEM expertise, including data scientists, software developers and programmers, mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries, and electrical and electronics engineers.

Return to 2-Week Processing Under Global Skills Strategy

During COVID, processing times for LMIAs (Labour Market Impact Assessments) and work permits filed in occupations listed under the Global Talent Strategy (GTS) were extremely delayed – at their height, adjudication taking upwards of 8 months.  The Canadian government has promised to return to the advertised 2-week processing timeline for these permits. With each of these changes and updates to their talent strategy, Canada seeks attract the talent needed to foster the success and growth of businesses in Canada.

We anticipate that more details will be released by the Canadian government in the coming weeks.  For a consultation on whether these strategies can benefit you or your employee population, please reach out to the T&S Americas team at AMERICAS@tandslaw.com.

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The content above is provided for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. Use of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. 

Key Contacts

Lisa Atkins

Partner

Michael Alcorta

Senior Counsel

Joel Li

Director, APAC Immigration

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