The strategy is aimed at attracting temporary highly skilled tech workers living in the U.S.
This comes less than a month after Immigration Minister Sean Fraser first announced the creation of the stream.
It provides H-1B specialty occupation visa holders living in the U.S. the option to apply for an open Canadian work permit for themselves, and study or work permits for their accompanying family members (including spouse, common-law partner, and dependent children).
The measure was to remain in effect for a maximum of one year, or until Canada received 10,000 applications from principal applicants – whichever came first, as per the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website.
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The latter condition was met this Monday, following the launch that had been scheduled for Sunday.
H-1B visas allow foreign workers in specialized occupations – including some in tech – to temporarily work in the U.S.
While these skilled professionals were in high demand during the pandemic, they are since being laid off in droves from leading tech firms such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.
This puts their immigration status in jeopardy, and creates a highly skilled job-seeker surplus within the United States.
Immigration Minister Fraser saw this as an “opportunity” for Canada to fill its labor shortage in STEM fields, which eventually led him to announce the Tech Talent Strategy at Collision 2023.
The aim of this program is to help Canadian businesses thrive in a competitive landscape, and to boost their hiring needs by retaining foreign talent in the North American labour market.
“We’re enthusiastic about the ambitious goals we have set in immigration, because they aren’t just about numbers—they are strategic,” Fraser said.
“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.”
The rapid uptake of the 10,000 applications shows that while skilled foreign workers are crucial for Canada’s tech future, Canada is also held in high regard for these workers’ labour market prospects.
This gives strong precedence to the suggestion that IRCC further expand this program by raising the cap, so that more of the surplus tech talent from the U.S. is attracted to Canada.
Documents Required Open Work Permit Stream
- a copy of a current H-1B visa
- Form I-797/I797B, Notice of Action
- This is a letter from the U.S. government confirming the H-1B application was approved
- proof of residence in the U.S., such as
- Form I-94, Arrival Departure Record
- a recent utility bill
- an income tax report
- any document that proves residence in the US
In addition to the open work permit for H-1B holders, the Tech Talent Strategy further includes the development of an Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program (IMP), which is set to launch by the end of this year. This Stream would provide:
- employer-specific work permits of up to five years, for workers destined to work for a company identified by the Canadian federal government as contributing to the country’s industrial innovation goals, and;
- open work permits of up to five years for highly-skilled workers in select in-demand occupations
Fraser further announced a return to the 14-day service standard for work permits under the Global Skills Strategy. This aligns with Canada’s new digital nomad strategy, which is promoting the immigration of workers who can do their jobs and run their businesses from anywhere in the world with sound internet access.