Despite the pandemic, Canadian IT businesses continue to experience staffing shortages. Hiring foreign talent can help eliminate labour market gaps.
The Council of Canadian Innovators has called on the federal government to pilot a new visa that would allow tech workers to come to Canada without a job opportunity.
Global Talent Stream:
It is designed to process 80% of applications in two weeks or fewer. Employers can utilise it to quickly hire overseas workers. Employers must be in Category A or B to qualify for this fast-track work visa.
Companies in Category A have been approved by a referral partner. Local, governmental, or semi-governmental agencies often serve as referral partners.
Employers seeking qualified personnel from the Global Talent Occupations List fall under Category B. Eligible jobs include computer engineers, software engineers, designers, analysts, and consultants.
The Canada-US-Mexico Agreement includes provisions to promote talent mobility among the three countries. Professionals and Intra-Company Transfers are two key categories for tech personnel (ICT).
Professionals is a CUSMA category that includes 63 occupations. Among these jobs are computer systems analysts.
ICTs are personnel transferring to a Canadian branch of their international organisation. There is no list of occupations that qualify or that do not. Intra-company transfers typically involve people who have worked for the company for a year or more and have either management or specialised knowledge.
Intra-Company Transfer (non CUSMA):
An ICT from a country other than Mexico or the USA is feasible as well. For example, the EU-Canada free trade agreement (CETA) and the UK deal both have ICT clauses.
Employers do not need to conduct an LMIA for ICT personnel. LMIAs exist to show the federal government that recruiting foreign workers will benefit the labour market. An LMIA takes time and money to execute, therefore companies avoid them.
Pathways to Permanent residency:
Foreign workers who obtain permanent residency can work in Canada without having to renew their work permit or LMIA. Some paths to permanent residency involve work offers, although IT talent can potentially achieve it on their own.
There are several immigration pathways available for skilled professionals, some of which are customized to tech workers.
Provincial immigration for tech workers:
Provinces in Canada can assist with permanent residency applications. Quebec has its own immigration system. Except for Nunavut, most other provinces and territories have Provincial Nominee Procedures that allow them to nominate candidates via Express Entry or their own base programmes.
Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway:
The Alberta Accelerated Tech Pathway allows qualifying Express Entry candidates to receive a provincial nomination quickly. This stream was introduced under the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program (AAIP) in January 2022.
Candidates must match the criteria for the Alberta Express Entry Stream to be eligible for accelerated processing. They must be employed in one of 23 qualified occupations or have a job offer in Alberta. Graphic designers and illustrators, mechanical engineers, and user support personnel are among examples.
Candidates for the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program can apply online for Express Entry (AINP).
British Columbia Tech:
The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) offers a BC Tech stream prioritizing specific tech employees. This PNP targets employment offers in 29 tech occupations.
Participants in a BC Tech draw must be eligible for one of BC’s immigration programmes and have a one-year job offer.
Weekly tech draws encourage eligible applicants to seek a BC PNP provincial nomination. Candidates for BC Tech receive priority processing and a designated processing officer.
Ontario Tech Draws:
Ontario holds Tech Draws for tech employees qualifying for the HCP stream.
Participants in the Federal Skilled Worker Program or the Canadian Experience Class are eligible to receive the invitation. They must also have worked in one of the following six tech fields:
- software engineers and designers;
- computer programmers and interactive media developers;
- computer engineers;
- web designers and developers;
- database analysts and data administrators; and
- computer and information systems managers.
Quebec Immigration Program for Workers in Artificial Intelligence, Information Technology, and Visual Effects Sectors:
Quebec initiated an immigration trial in April 2021 to grow its tech sector. It has two streams:
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
This stream has two sub-streams: graduates of Quebec colleges or universities and employees who trained overseas. A job offer is required for the Quebec sub-graduate stream. In some circumstances, a job offer may not be required for foreign workers. Both require applicants to have a relevant education equivalent to a Quebec bachelor’s degree.
Information Technology and visual effects
Applicants for this programme must have spent two years in one of ten occupations. Candidates must also hold a current or new employment offer in their profession and possess a Quebec technical studies diploma or a bachelor’s degree.
Both streams have two sub-streams. One is for francophones and the other is for non- francophones. Applicants in the francophone category must demonstrate advanced intermediate French proficiency. The non-francophone stream does not have such prerequisites.
Saskatchewan Tech Talent Pathway:
Recently founded Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP) is a tech pathway for future Canadian immigration.
Applicants must obtain an employer-specific SINP Job Approval Letter for an appropriate technology sector position to be eligible for Saskatchewan’s Tech Talent Pathway.They require work experience in that occupation during the last five years, or six months in the province.
If they work in Saskatchewan, they require a CLB 5 as well. A CLB level 7 is necessary for Express Entry.
Candidates must have post-secondary education and, if relevant, myst be licenced in Saskatchewan.