The United States' efforts to tighten immigration rules at all levels including H-1B visas for technical workers has increased Canada's attractiveness as a destination for tech firms and tech workers. With a recent presidential order to Buy American and Hire American, high legal fees, far more applicants than available spots and a process that takes months highly trained foreign workers are looking for alternatives other than the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security is proposing rules changes to eliminate work permits for spouses of some U.S. visa holders.
In recent months Canada's immigration system IRCC has implemented the Global Skills Strategy to help Canadian employers get high skilled workers their businesses need. Key features of the Global Skills program are:
- 80% of work permit applications are processed within two weeks
- work permit exemptions will be granted to highly-skilled workers on short-term work assignments
- dedicated resources are available for companies who want to invest in large job-creation projects in Canada
According to government data, over 2000 workers have entered Canada under the program from its start on June 12 through September, with the application approval process down to 2 weeks from several months. According to Bloomberg, "Those who are fast-tracked can apply to stay as long as three years and also for permanent residency. Computer programmers, systems analysts, and software engineers, are the top three categories of workers to benefit so far. The bulk come from India -- the same country that makes up the majority of U.S. H-1B visas issued -- followed by China and France."
Canada’s fast-track visa program is only one of Trudeau’s drive to boost innovation and recruit high tech workers to Canada: they government has also approved a permanent Start-Up Visa Program for Entrepreneurs, and are providing private and public funding programs to support innovation and growth.
Calgary immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah believes Canada is a highly desirable destination for high-tech immigrants:
Our quality of life and values in Canada are very appealing to highly skilled immigrants and entrepreneurs who want to move to Canada. Our cost of living, education system and healthcare are excellent. I look forward to working with skilled tech immigrants from around the globe who want to move to Canada to work or build their business and help build a stronger Canada.
The Global Talent Stream's goal is to provide innovative firms in Canada with a faster way to hire highly skilled foreign talent when Canadians or permanent residents are not available, and help approved companies recruit and hire the highly specialized and skilled global talent they need to expand by providing faster and more predictable application processing.