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Upcoming Immigration Solutions for Tech Industry Hiring

Are you an up-and-coming tech company that is struggling to find resources your staffing needs?  Are you suffering from any of the following:

  • Finding it difficult to source locally without trading resources with your competitors?
  • Looked into hiring foreign workers through the GTS LMIA program but found the program either did not meet your needs, timeline or was too expensive?
  • Was excited about the Canadian work permit based on the H1B visa program only to be disappointed that the cap was reached in two days?

Well…… there are more work permit options coming to support hiring foreign workers for the tech industry in Canada that are scheduled to launch before the end of 2023. 

At the Collision Conference in Toronto that took place at the end of June, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) gave a sneak preview of their proposed innovation work permit stream, as part of the release of the Tech Talent Strategy.

Although, we will have to wait a few months before the new stream opens, we do know that its purpose is to attract highly skilled workers to meet Canada’s ongoing labour shortage needs and to contribute to Canada’s technology industry development, without the need for an LMIA.

At this time, IRCC is planning to launch two work permit options under this category:

  • Employer-specific work permits that will be valid for up to 5 years for workers whose employment is related to a company identified by the Government of Canada as contributing to the industry and its innovation objective.
  • Open work permits valid for up to 5 years for highly skilled workers in selected high-demand job categories.

Under this program, work permits issued will be valid for up to a 5-years period.  To date Canadian work permits are issued for a maximum of 3 years.  The bigger question is whether this new longer work permit will only apply to this category or whether IRCC will seek to extend this duration to other work permit categories as a measure to reduce work permit extension inventories within CPC Edmonton (which are currently listed as 147 days).

An element to watch for will be how IRCC will determine which companies will qualify as a company “contributing to the industry and its innovation objective.”  Will this be a closed assessment, or can any company apply for such a designation? 

Recently IRCC has used third party assessors, such as with the Start-Up Visa (SUV) program and Category A of the GTS LMIA program, to make these determinations, and may do so again here.

It will also be interesting to see which occupations IRCC identifies as “high-demand job categories” that give rise to eligibility for open work permits and how (of if) that differ from the GTS LMIA Stream B list which incorporates most IT industry-based NOC codes.

Reading between the lines, it appears that IRCC is admitting that the GTS LMIA program is not enough to meet current demands for Canadian Tech Industry needs, and they are seeking new and innovative ways to forge ahead into the future.

Stay tuned…we will provide more exciting details (and commentary) as this program continues to unfold.