In a breaking move, Canada is stepping into the forefront of global tech talent recruitment with the launch of its first-ever Tech Talent Strategy. Unveiled by the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, at the prestigious Collision 2023, this strategy marks a significant leap forward in attracting top-tier talent to drive innovation and propel emerging technologies.
Canada’s High-Growth Industries: A Gateway to the Future
The strategy is rooted in the recognition that Canada’s high-growth industries hold the key to shaping the jobs of the future. Minister Fraser emphasized the need for companies to have access to exceptional talent that not only fuels innovation but also steers emerging technologies towards success. With a focus on creating a competitive landscape for businesses in Canada, the Tech Talent Strategy introduces a series of aggressive attraction measures.
Key Attractions of the Tech Talent Strategy:
1. Open Work Permit Stream for H-1B Visa Holders:
- A groundbreaking move is the creation of an open work permit stream for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the United States.
- This permits them to apply for a Canadian work permit and offers study or work permit options for their accompanying family members.
2. Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program:
- This stream is designed to attract highly talented individuals, offering employer-specific work permits for up to five years.
- Workers destined to contribute to Canada’s industrial innovation goals are eligible, reflecting a commitment to fostering technological advancements.
3. Return to 14-Day Service Standard for Work Permits:
- Under the Global Skills Strategy, a return to the 14-day service standard for work permits is a notable improvement, streamlining the process for highly skilled workers.
4. Promotion of Canada as a Destination for Digital Nomads:
- Acknowledging the changing nature of work, the strategy promotes Canada as an ideal destination for digital nomads, reflecting a forward-thinking approach to the evolving workforce.
5. STEM-Specific Draw under Express Entry:
- A STEM-specific draw under category-based selection in the Express Entry program is introduced, aiming to issue additional invitations to apply and bolster Canada’s talent pool in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
6. Start-Up Visa Program Enhancements:
- Significant improvements are made to the Start-Up Visa Program, including increased spots for 2023 and plans for further expansion in 2024 and 2025.
- Applicants can now apply for a three-year work permit instead of one, promoting sustained entrepreneurial efforts.
7. Prioritization of Venture Capital, Angel Investors, and Business Incubators:
- The strategy prioritizes applications supported by venture capital, angel investor groups, and business incubators, recognizing the crucial role of these entities in fostering innovation.
Canada’s Emerging Role in Global Tech Talent Recruitment:
The government’s proactive stance in embracing Canada’s emerging role as a leader in global tech talent recruitment is evident in the comprehensive nature of the Tech Talent Strategy. By not only addressing the current demand for skilled workers but also attracting the skills and business talent needed for the jobs of tomorrow, Canada aims to secure its position at the forefront of the rapidly evolving tech landscape.
Quick Facts and Launch Timeline:
- The Innovation Stream is set to launch by the end of the year, informed by stakeholder feedback from recent consultations.
- The H1-B specialty occupation visa holder work permit becomes available from July 16, 2023, providing a three-year open work permit for approved applicants.
- The Global Skills Strategy, launched in 2017, is meeting the two-week standard for processing Global Talent Stream labor market impact assessments and work permit applications.
- Changes to the temporary work permit option for Start-Up Visa Program applicants and the new application prioritization plan will be implemented later this year.
Canada’s Tech Landscape and Global Recognition:
- The information and communications technology sector in Canada employed nearly 720,000 Canadians and accounted for over 44% of all private research and development spending in 2021.
- Canadian cities featured prominently in CBRE’s 2022 report on the concentration of tech talent, representing 11 of the top 62 markets in North America.
- Canada ranked first as the most attractive destination for immigrant entrepreneurs in a 2023 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), underscoring the country’s appeal on various fronts.
Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy is a bold and forward-looking initiative that aligns with the nation’s vision to become a global leader in technology and innovation. By addressing the immediate needs of the tech industry while laying the groundwork for future growth, the strategy positions Canada as an attractive destination for top-tier talent. As the government embraces a fast and flexible approach, Canadians can anticipate a surge in technological advancements, job creation, and economic growth.
Are you a tech professional looking to explore opportunities in Canada? Book a free consultation with our expert lawyers to navigate the new Tech Talent Strategy and make informed decisions about your immigration journey. Let us help you pave the way for a successful career in Canada’s dynamic tech landscape.
Yes, tech professionals are eligible for the Innovation Stream. It offers employer-specific work permits for up to five years for those contributing to Canada’s industrial innovation goals, as well as open work permits for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.
The Start-Up Visa Program now allows applicants to apply for a three-year work permit instead of one. Additionally, entrepreneurs can apply for an open work permit, and the three-year open work permit is extended to each member of the entrepreneurial team, not just essential personnel.
Yes, applications supported by venture capital, angel investor groups, and business incubators, particularly those who are members of Canada’s Tech Network, will be prioritized. This reflects the government’s commitment to fostering innovation through strategic partnerships.
Yes, applicants approved under the Innovation Stream can bring their families to Canada. The strategy includes provisions for study or work permit options for accompanying family members, ensuring a holistic approach to supporting talented individuals in contributing to Canada’s tech landscape.
Applications supported by venture capital, angel investor groups, and business incubators, especially those affiliated with Canada’s Tech Network, are prioritized. This prioritization recognizes the critical role that investors and incubators play in supporting and advancing innovative ventures, aligning with the government’s strategic approach to economic growth.