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Canada Tech Employers Are Requesting IRCC to Expand the Fast-Track Work Permit Cap for H-1B Applicants

By cvf, 08/16/2023

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has been requested by Canada tech employers to expand a fast-track work-permit program which pre-emptively reached its cap of 10,000 permanent residence applications from non-citizen U.S. tech workers, the Toronto Star reports.

The fast-track program falls under Canada’s Tech Talent Strategy, and is aimed at luring 10,000 H-1B visa holding tech workers from the U.S. to come to Canada; however, its cap was reached within just 48 hours of its launch.

Employer-sponsored H-1B visas allow skilled foreign workers operating in certain specialized occupations – including some in tech – to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis of three years (although their visas can be renewed for another three years for qualified applicants).

However, holders of this visa face several grievances related to immigration procedure, one of them being that the spouses and other family members of H-1B holders have severe restrictions in pursuing their own employment and educational opportunities in the United States.

H-1B visa holders also face hurdles in launching new businesses, and – while they were especially sought after during COVID-19’s peak – they are since being laid off in droves from leading American multinationals such as Google parent Alphabet, Amazon, and Twitter.

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There are close to 600,000 H-1B visa holders in the U.S., of which an estimated 50,000 were laid off in the U.S. Tech Wreck of the past few months and are in fear of deportation; this is because once laid off, H-1Bs have just 60 days to find a new employer to sponsor them or else they face removal from the country.

The former Canada Immigration Minister Sean Fraser saw the issues faced by skilled foreign tech professionals as an “opportunity” for Canada to fill its labour market shortages in STEM, causing him to announce the Tech Talent Strategy at Collision 2023.

“We’re enthusiastic about the ambitious goals we have set in immigration because they aren’t just about numbers—they are strategic,” Fraser said.

“With Canada’s first-ever immigration Tech Talent Strategy, we’re targeting newcomers that can help enshrine Canada as a world leader in a variety of emerging technologies.”

The central goal of this program is to assist Canada businesses to thrive in a competitive landscape and to boost their recruitment and retention requirements by holding foreign talent in the North American labour market.

This fast-track work permit program was implemented on July 16, and successful applications are to be provided with expedited PR in Canada within six months of applying.

Moreover, it offered talented foreign workers incredible job and residence security, as not only do they now have enough time to find a new job after a layoff, they also have greater ease in launching their own business.

Their accompanying family members (including spouse, common-law partner, and dependent children) can also apply for a study or work permit.

The application up-take was unprecedented to say the least, and completely rattled IRCC calculations (which had implemented the measure for a maximum of one year, or until Canada received 10,000 applications from principal applicants – whichever came first).

The immigration ministry’s response to Canadian tech employers’ request to double the allocation capacity has been to question whether the industry has enough capacity to absorb such numbers in the first place.

As per Toronto Star’s business columnist David Olive, there is.

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The tech workforce in Canada has a strength of roughly 1.2 million workers, an addition of another 10,000 knowledge workers to which would make negligible difference.

More than five percent of Canada’s economy, or $104.5 billion, is accounted for by the tech sector, as per the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA, which is an international tech analysis group).

That includes an estimated increase of upwards of 22,000 jobs in artificial intelligence (AI) alone in Toronto in the year ending March 2022, reports the Star.

Canada’s talent poaching scheme has been called a “model of creative policy-making” in a latest Bloomberg editorial.

This policy – although innovative in its own right – builds on many years of Canada’s increasingly strengthened attempts at luring in more knowledge workers to the country.

In 2015, for example, it launched its Express Entry program to attract more foreign tech talent, which renders a decision on whether an applicant qualifies within six months.

Contrast that with the decades it takes to obtain H-1B visa or “green card” approval, and it is obvious why the Northern neighbor has become a more attractive destination for skilled foreign workers; in fact, the number of foreign high-skilled worker from the U.S. alone advancing through Express Entry jumped by 75 percent between 2017 and 2019.

Toronto Star, in quoting the Center for Security and Emerging Technologies (CSET), says that “Canada arguably leads this competition (for global tech talent).”

In concluding his piece, David Olive writes that “appealing soon to another 10,000 of them (tech workers) to relocate north is just common sense.”

“It’s an opportunity to further increase Canada’s population of knowledge workers that shouldn’t be squandered.”

Are you ready to live and work in Canada? Fill out our free evaluation form to find out if you are eligible.

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The post Canada Tech Employers Are Requesting IRCC to Expand the Fast-Track Work Permit Cap for H-1B Applicants appeared first on Canada Immigration and Visa Information. Canadian Immigration Services and Free Online Evaluation..



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