Canadian immigration pathways for tech workers
Canada offers many visa pathways for global tech talent.
Canada’s tech sector has been booming in recent years. Even in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, the sector remains strong with companies actively recruiting talent.
Due to its need for more ICT workers, Canada offers many permanent and temporary pathways to support the sector. These include general programs for skilled workers, and specific programs dedicated for tech talent.
Whether you wish to move to Canada on a permanent or temporary basis, the following are key options for you to consider.
Express Entry is Canada’s main way of managing skilled worker applications for permanent residence. It is an extremely popular option for global tech talent looking to immigrate to Canada. Tech workers are the main occupational group of immigrants who move to Canada through Express Entry.
A major benefit of Express Entry is its dynamic and quick nature. You can successfully obtain an invitation to apply for permanent residence within just days of submitting a completed profile assuming that you are one of the highest-ranking candidates. If you are one of these lucky individuals, the federal government will aim to process your permanent residence application within six months of you submitting it.
If you are a tech worker who has not lived in Canada before, your best bet of being eligible for Express Entry is through the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). The FSWP accounts for nearly half of all individuals who obtain an ITA.
You need to meet minimum eligibility criteria and obtain at least 67 points to meet the FSWP’s requirements. Before getting into the Express Entry pool of candidates, your eligibility for the FSWP will be determined by the likes of your age, education, language skills, and work experience.
Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is your next best bet for obtaining Canadian permanent residence if you have not lived in the country before.
Canada’s Constitution gives the country’s provinces and territories the right to operate immigration programs. The PNP operates in nearly every jurisdiction. Provinces can “nominate” immigration candidates that meet their labour market needs, and then the federal government goes ahead and processes their permanent residence application.
Provinces and territories offer general pathways for skilled workers as well as specific ones based on where they have labour shortages. Tech is a significant area of need, which is why some provinces operate tech worker streams.
Two of the most notable are offered by the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia.
The Ontario Tech Pilot is for workers who have experience in one of six tech occupations. Candidates need to have an Express Entry profile. Ontario has held two Tech Pilot draws in 2020, including one during the pandemic, in May, which saw over 700 candidates successfully receive invitations for a provincial nomination.
B.C.’s Tech Pilot invites immigration candidates to apply for a provincial nomination on an almost weekly basis so long as they have a job offer in one of 29 tech occupations. The province has held 14 tech draws in 2020, including earlier this month, with over 1,500 people receiving provincial nominations so far this year.
The Canadian government also operates the Start-up Visa program. It exists to attract innovative entrepreneurs who are looking to operate a business in Canada. It is an attractive option for tech talent and has significantly different selection criteria from skilled worker programs. Notably, successful candidates need to be endorsed by an entity that is designated by the Canadian government (an angel investor, venture capital firm, or business incubator). Such entities are responsible for supporting the entrepreneur’s success once they come to Canada.
Global Talent Stream
Canada offers plenty of temporary resident pathways for tech workers who either do not want to settle in Canada permanently, or want a quicker pathway into the country before submitting a permanent residence application. In fact, working in Canada temporarily can enhance your chances of obtaining permanent residence since many immigration programs such as the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) are meant to support this process.
One of the more notable temporary visa options is the Global Talent Stream.
It enables Canadian employers to hire tech talent and bring them to Canada in about four weeks. The Global Talent Stream is one component of Canada’s Global Skills Strategy which has facilitated the arrival of over 40,000 tech workers to the country since 2017.
Canadian immigration during COVID-19
The pandemic has affected Canada’s immigration operations but the country is still enabling temporary visa holders to enter the country to work. Invitations to successful immigration candidates are also continuing since Canada is planning to welcome them into the country once the pandemic has subsided.
All this to say, Canada remains open to global tech talent who want to call this country their new home.
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