There are many options available to tech workers for immigrating into Canada.
Let’s start with getting to Canada. To legally work in Canada, foreign nationals must have a work permit. Some work permits are tailored for tech workers. It is possible for tech workers not to travel to Canada to apply for permanent residency.
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Studies have shown that immigrants who have worked in Canada have higher labour market outcomes. They are more likely to get a job and make more in their first year of arrival.
Here are some Canadian work permits for tech workers.
Global Talent Stream
The Global Talent Stream is a major temporary route. The route processes 80 percent of applicants in less than two weeks. Employers can use this route to quickly hire high-skilled employees. Employers who qualify can either be Category A or category B.
Category A is reserved for companies growing rapidly and requiring specialized talent from overseas. An approval must be obtained from a referral partner before a Category A employer can hire. This can be a local, semi-governmental, or governmental agency with the mission of economic development in a particular area or city.
Category B is for employers looking for skilled workers in Canada that are not in short supply. This list is also known as the Global Talent Occupations List. The latest list from Canada includes twelve occupations. Each one is in the technology sector.
Other requirements must be met by employers. Employers must also prove that the hiring of a foreigner will bring Canada permanent benefits. This can be done by proving that the new hire will create Canadian jobs or transfer skills or knowledge to Canadians. Employers must also prove that they pay the foreigner a minimum wage. This may vary depending on the province or occupation.
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This is the Canada-United States Mexico Agreement, which replaces NAFTA. It includes provisions that facilitate talent mobility among the three countries. These two categories are relevant for tech workers: Intra-Company transfers (ICT) and professionals.
CUSMA lists 63 occupations that fall under the Professionals category. Computer systems analysts are one of these occupations.
ICTs are employees who are moving from one location within the company to another in Canada. There is no set of occupations that are eligible or excluded. An intra-company transferee generally means someone who has been working for the company at least one year, and has either managerial roles or special knowledge.
Intra-Company Transfer (non UUSMA)
You can make an ICT transfer from another country than Mexico or the United States. The CETA free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union (CETA), for example, has ICT provisions, as does the CETA agreement with the U.K.
An ICT worker who comes to Canada via any ICT doesn’t need a Labour Market Assessment. LMIA, or as it is commonly abbreviated, shows that hiring temporary workers will not replace Canadian workers.
Find out if you are eligible for Canadian immigration
Pathways to permanent residence
Permanent residency is for those who wish to live in Canada longer term. Temporary residents are often able to move around Canada more easily than permanent residents. Permanent residents no longer require a work permit. However, they might need to renew their PR card. After a few years as a permanent resident, they may be eligible to become citizens.
Express Entry is the most preferred immigration route for skilled workers from all fields. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as an immigration program. However, it is an online application management system. Two of the Express Entry programs that allow tech workers to come to Canada are the Federal Skilled Workers Program (FSW) and the Canadian Experience Class. The Federal Skilled Trades Program is for tradespeople.
Express Entry can process 80 percent of applications within six months. Express Entry scores are based on education, language and work experience. Canada selects the best-scoring candidates every two weeks and issues Invitations to Apply (ITAs), for permanent residence.
FSW is often a good option for those who have not had much exposure to Canada. FSW requires that a person have at least one year’s work experience in Canada or abroad in a highly-skilled occupation. These occupations are classified as National Occupation Code (NOC), Categories A or B by Canada. Tech jobs are generally NOC A. FSW applicants must score at least 7 on the English CLB and French NCLC language scoring systems. While they do not require a job offer to be successful, having one can help increase their overall score.
CEC is for Canadian citizens who have worked or studied in Canada. For CEC to be eligible, the applicant must have worked for at least one year in Canada in a job that is either NOC A or B. If their occupation is NOC, they must possess CLB or NCLC 7. No job offer is necessary, just like FSW. However, having one can help you get more points.
Express Entry is a popular program for tech workers. Express Entry’s most recent annual report shows that tech workers make up around one-third of all successful applicants. Technology is home to four of the top five most preferred occupations for ITAs.
Each province has its own immigration program that helps address regional labour market needs. Many have their own technology streams.
British Columbia Tech
British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program offers a preferred pathway, the BC Tech stream, which is available to some tech workers. This Provincial Nominee Program is for candidates with job offers in any of the 29 eligible tech occupations.
You must be eligible for at least one additional B.C. program to be eligible. You must be eligible for at least one other B.C. immigration program. Tech stream is a unique path that can be used in conjunction with other programs. A job offer in your field is required. The offer must be valid for at least one calendar year.
Through weekly tech draws, eligible candidates are invited to apply for the BC PNP provincial nomination. BC Tech candidates receive several benefits, including priority processing and a special processing officers.
Ontario Tech Draws
Tech Draws are held from time to time in Ontario. You must be eligible for the Ontario Human Capital Priorities stream to be eligible. You must also be eligible for the Canadian Experience Class or the Federal Skilled Worker Program. You must have experience in the following tech occupations to be eligible for Tech Draw: software engineers and developers, computer programmers and interactive multimedia developers, computer engineers, web designers and developers, database analysts and data managers, and computer and information system managers.
Quebec Immigration Program for Workers in Artificial Intelligence and Information Technology Sectors
This pilot immigration program was launched by Quebec only a few months back, in April 2021. There are two streams to this program.
Artificial intelligence (AI).
There are two streams to this stream: one for Quebec graduates and one for foreign workers. These two streams will have different requirements. The Quebec sub-graduate stream, for example, will require that the applicant has job offers and experience. In some cases, the foreign worker sub-stream doesn’t require a job offer. Both require that applicants have relevant education at the minimum of a Quebec bachelor’s.
Information technology (IT), and visual effects
This program requires that applicants have at least two years of experience in a minimum of 10 occupations. You must also have a job, or a new job opportunity in your field. They must also meet the education requirements. They must also prove that they have the equivalent of a Quebec technical education diploma or bachelor’s level.
There are two additional divisions for both streams. One division is for francophones and one for nonfrancophones. Persons applying under the francophone category need to show they have advanced intermediate French knowledge. It is rare to find a non-francophone stream. A Quebec immigration category will usually require knowledge of French.