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Canada Launches Open Work Permit For H-1B Visa Holders

Blog posted on by Evelyn Ackah in Canada Work Permits, Cross-Border Business and U.S. Immigration and Work Permits for Specialty Occupations - H–1B Visa

Canada Launches Open Work Permit For H-1B Visa Holders

Canada Announced 6 New Tech Immigration Initiatives To Attract Global Tech Talent

Starting July 16, 2023, the Canadian government will introduce a new immigration stream to allow 10,000 H-1B visa holders from the U.S. to work in Canada. Thousands of U.S. tech employees were laid off by American employers over the past year, and many have struggled to find IT and tech work in the United States, and are fearful of losing their immigration status. The government's plan aims to attract these IT tech professionals to come work in Canada for an extended period of time. The goal of Canada's new immigration initiatives is to position Canada as a leading destination for global talent and support the growth of its tech industry.

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Canada's Immigration Stream for U.S. H-1B Visa Holders

Canada has no annual limit on high-skilled temporary visas and no per-country restrictions for permanent residency, while the majority of H-1B registrations in the U.S. are denied due to the country's annual cap of 85,000 visas for companies. Indian H-1B applicants often wait decades for a U.S. employment-based green card due as a result of the U.S. per-country limit.

  • H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the United States often work in high-tech fields for companies with operations in both Canada and the U.S.
  • Starting July 16, 2023, these visa holders and their immediate family members can apply to come to Canada.
  • Approved applicants will receive an open work permit of up to three years in duration, allowing them to work for almost any Canadian employer.
    • An open work permit is not job or employer-specific.
  • Spouses and dependents can also apply for a temporary resident visa, with a work or study permit if needed.
  • This initiative will expand opportunities for skilled workers and contribute to economic growth in North America.
  • The measure is valid for one year or until IRCC receives 10,000 applications.
  • Only principal applicants count toward the cap; accompanying family members do not.

Summary: Eligibility Requirements for Canada's Open Work-Permit Stream for Skilled Workers

To qualify for Canada's new open work-permit stream for H-1B visa holders, applicants must:

  • Have a valid H-1B visa or have held one in the past 12 months.
  • Have at least one year of full-time work experience in a specialty occupation.
  • Have a valid passport.
  • Meet Canada's health and security requirements.
  • Pay the application fees.

Applicants can apply online via the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. They must provide supporting documents, including:

  • A copy of their H-1B visa or approval notice.
  • A letter from their current or previous employer verifying their occupation and work experience.
  • A copy of their educational qualifications.
  • A copy of their marriage certificate and birth certificates of their dependents, if applicable.

Additionally, applicants can include family members in their applications if they wish to bring them along. Eligible family members include spouses, common-law partners, dependent children and their spouses or partners.

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Why H-1B Visa Holders and Other Tech Workers Want To Move To Canada

Canada's high quality of life, progressive immigration programs and career opportunities make moving to Canada an attractive choice for foreign tech workers.

  • Canada has an aging workforce and is facing a severe labour shortage.
  • Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Canada (IRCC) has implemented many new immigration initiatives and pledges to open more to welcome skilled, educated foreign workers and their families.
  • Canada has worked to make tech immigration a flagship of the Canadian immigration system
  • Canadian cities rank repeatedly in the top 10 most liveable cities in the world.
  • Canada's education and health care system make it a family-friendly choice for foreign workers.

Canada's 6 New Tech Immigration Initiatives To Attract Global Talent

Canada announced 6 new immigration initiatives to fill in-demand jobs and address Canada's labour shortage, and "attract highly talented individuals":

1. The digital nomad plan for remote workers.

2. A stream to allow 10,000 H-1B visa holders from the US to work in Canada, supporting tech employees impacted by recent layoffs.

3. Dedicated pathway for permanent residency for STEM sector employees.

4. Faster application processing times under the Global Skills Strategy so work permits will be processed in 2 weeks

5. Available spaces in the Start-up Visa Program will increase from 1000 to 3500 per year.

6. An "innovation stream" under Canada's international mobility program for skilled workers.

At the Collision Conference in Toronto on June 27, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Sean Fraser announced Canada's “Tech Talent Strategy,” said:

“There’s no question as borders opened up, that we are in a global race for the same pool of talent with competitors around the entire world. Now, in my view, Canada is winning that race, and we might be winning it, but I think we can win by an even larger margin.”

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Are You An H-1B Tech Worker Who Wants To Move To Canada?

Ackah Business Immigration Law, led by Calgary immigration lawyer Evelyn Ackah, is an innovative and an award-winning immigration law firm with a strong reputation for its commitment to assisting clients in realizing their aspirations of living and working in Canada. Ackah Law provides immigration services in both Canada and the United States.

Ackah Business Immigration Law has offices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver to help clients move to new opportunities in Canada. To get in touch with Ackah Law, contact us at (403) 452-9515 or send an email directly to contact@ackahlaw.com.


Evelyn L. Ackah, BA, LL.B.

Founder/Managing Lawyer

Ms. Ackah is passionate about immigration law because it focuses on people and relationships, which are at the core of her personal values. Starting her legal career as a corporate/commercial ...

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It is hard enough in the normal course of business to obtain permanent resident status in Canada. Imagine the difficulty in gaining that status with a 36 year old developmentally disabled daughter. That was our experience. My husband had been recruited for the C.E.O. position at the Calgary Public Library. Even the process to obtain temporary work permits for all three of our family members took some time and effort. The Ackah Firm was with us every step of the way. They gave us good advice, managed the paperwork and kept my husband’s employer informed. They were also proactive by insisting that we get on with the process of permanent residency in a timely fashion. Again their experience and knowledge paid off. They utilized other legal expertise to make a case that our daughter would not be a burden to the Country or the Province. They were respectful of our point of view that despite her disabilities she had always been an active and engaged member of the community. We were pleased that permanent residence for parents and child came through fully six months before the temporary status expired.

– Margaret and Bill Ptacek

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