Policy for H-1B Holders Reaches Cap: Strong Tech Talent Appeal
In an effort to enhance labour mobility and address the high demand for skilled workers in the tech sector, Canada introduced a new policy on July 16, 2023, allowing H-1B visa holders from the United States to apply for a 3-year open work permit in Canada. The program received an overwhelming response, reaching the cap of 10,000 applications within just two days. While the application intake for this specific permit has expired, the broader significance of this policy and its implications for tech talent mobility remain noteworthy.
The policy established a streamlined work permit process for H-1B visa holders working in the US. These skilled professionals, mainly employed in the high-tech sector, have the opportunity to apply for a Canadian open work permit that allows them to work for almost any employer in Canada. Additionally, the permit extends to their immediate family members, offering them the chance to apply for a temporary resident visa. This measure aims to expand career opportunities for tech talent across North America, fostering economic growth in the region. The policy was set to remain in effect for one year or until the 10,000-application threshold was reached.
The response to the new policy was overwhelming, with the 10,000-application cap being reached on July 18, 2023, just two days after its launch. The significant demand underscores Canada’s appeal as a destination for foreign skilled workers, particularly in the tech industry. This popularity highlights the attractiveness of Canada’s tech ecosystem and its efforts to address labour shortages and strengthen its position as a global tech hub.
For those who missed the opportunity to apply under the new policy, there are still several alternative pathways available for H-1B visa holders seeking to work in Canada. Some of these pathways do not require a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), making the process smoother for both employers and applicants.
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The GTS (Global Talent Stream) is an excellent option for IT professionals with specialized skills. To qualify, employers must obtain an LMIA and demonstrate a need to hire specialized talent from abroad. The GTS application processing time is relatively fast, typically taking around two weeks. ICT Work Permits, as another popular pathway, are suitable for employees transferring to a company’s branch in Canada. The company must have a parent, subsidiary, branch, or affiliate relationship, and both entities must be operational and engaged in business on an ongoing basis.
For Mexican citizens employed by multinational companies with a Canadian branch, the CUSMA (Canada United States Mexico Agreement) work permit option is available. This option applies to American and Mexican citizens and does not require an LMIA. H-1B visa holders may also enter Canada as business visitors without an LMIA for various reasons, including attending business meetings, providing after-sales service, or conducting training.
Canada’s new open work permit policy for H-1B visa holders has highlighted the country’s proactive approach to attracting tech talent and addressing labour shortages. Despite the current application intake expiration, there are still various avenues for skilled professionals to pursue work opportunities in Canada. These policies reflect Canada’s commitment to fostering a diverse and thriving workforce and solidify its position as a sought-after destination for foreign skilled workers.
Overall, as the demand for skilled workers in Canada’s thriving industries continues to surge, the Canadian government shares employers’ concern and is taking proactive steps to address the labor shortage in the country. The recent introduction of the open work permit policy for H-1B visa holders is a testament to the government’s commitment to attracting top-notch professionals from around the world. These initiatives not only benefit employers but also enhance Canada’s global standing as a preferred destination for skilled professionals seeking exciting career opportunities.