Canada’s Information Technology (IT) sector is currently growing. Faced with the need for more IT workers, the Canadian government has taken steps to attract leading IT companies and industry professionals from around the world. Currently, IT professionals in a wide range of fields may be eligible to immigrate to Canada, or to come to the country as temporary workers.
Many leading figures in Canada’s IT sector have observed Canada’s growth and potential in this field. Karna Gupta, President and CEO of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) recently commented that, “It is clear that Canada is extremely well-positioned to be a world-leader in the digital economy.”
The IT Industry in Canada
Canada’s information technology sector is one of the most prosperous industries in the country today. In 2013, the ITAC reported that IT professionals were paid a wage that was 52% higher than the national standard. Web designers and database analysts were recently ranked among the highest starting salaries in Canada.
In a recent article by The Globe and Mail, it was reported that the Toronto-Waterloo corridor currently employs 280,000 workers. Silicon Valley, the corridor between San Jose and San Francisco famed for its booming IT community, currently employs 380,000 workers. As a result, Ontario was nicknamed the “Silicon Valley of the North.”
With such a large workforce, it is clear that Canada has already established itself as an information technology hub on an international scale. The move for international recognition has been supported by the Government of Canada. In 2013, the Federal Government of Canada reaffirmed a $50 million job creation investment, with millions invested in Canadian information technology companies. This move will help to create jobs, and secure Canada’s place as a leader in information technology.
Need for Foreign Workers
With a projected 106,000 unfilled positions in the next 4 years, the IT sector’s need for foreign workers is increasing rapidly.
Industry Canada recently conducted a study during which they interviewed representatives from Canadian IT companies. The results of the study revealed that every interviewed firm was actively hiring new employees. Of those interviewed, three quarters believed that there was a significant lack of local Canadian talent, and two thirds used foreign recruitment to hire new employees.
There is a range of programs available for IT professionals who wish to immigrate to Canada permanently. The Federal Skilled Worker program (FSW) includes certain IT fields on its list of eligible occupations, while the Quebec Skilled Worker program (QSW) include certain IT fields on their list of eligible occupations. The FSW program alone includes 5 major IT fields. They are:
- information systems analysts and consultants;
- computer network technicians;
- database analysts and data administrators;
- software engineers and designers; and
- computer programmers and interactive media developers.
Individuals with IT experience, but who possess a job title different from the five listed above, may still be eligible if they can demonstrate that they perform a substantial number of the job duties listed in the occupation’s description. Additionally, there are a number of IT-related fields on the list of eligible occupations. The QSW program, which is also point based, offers points to a wide array of IT professions. These include computer engineering, computer support and computer science. Over 15 different IT fields are awarded with points under the QSW program.
In addition to Federal programs, the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP) were set in place to help provinces to nominate individuals who wish to immigrate to Canada and who are interested in settling in a particular province. Each province (except for Quebec) offers its own unique PNP. IT professionals who wish to immigrate to Canada can benefit from a number of these programs. One such program is The Nova Scotia Provincial Nominee Program’s Regional Labour Market Demand Stream. Under this program, the province accepts applications from individuals who possess skills and experience that are in demand in Nova Scotia. While the program is currently closed, many of the specified occupations listed are in the IT field. The program will reopen on January 1st, 2015.
IT professionals wishing to work in Canada do not need to be Canadian Permanent Residents. There are over 250,000 temporary foreign workers currently working in Canada, many of whom are IT professionals. By avoiding the regular wait times of permanent residency application, temporary foreign workers can gain quick access to the Canadian job market. In order to come to Canada as a temporary worker, the individual must obtain an official job offer in Canada and receive a Temporary Work Permit. Individuals interested in the Temporary Work Program can use the Canadavisa Job Search tool to facilitate their search of employer and learn of job opportunities.
Additionally, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States, facilitates the work permit process for Mexican and American citizens who wish to work temporarily in Canada. Through the NAFTA Professional program, select occupations are eligible to apply for facilitated processing. Many IT occupations are on the list of NAFTA professionals.
The Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa Program
One of the newer programs created by the Federal Government of Canada that encourages IT professionals to immigrate is the Entrepreneur Start-Up Visa Program. The program was created to grant permanent residency to immigrant entrepreneurs while assisting them in becoming established in Canada. The program has been advertised in Silicon Valley in the United States, and other popular areas for IT workers.
Former Immigration Minister Jason Kenney feels confident that the program will succeed, noting, “Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest wishing to launch their companies.”
“[It] underscores our commitment to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the Canadian labour market.”
Attorney David Cohen feels that IT professionals who wish to work in Canada should not wait any longer.
“Information Technology professionals are some of the most sought-after workers in Canada’s economy today” Cohen said. “I have helped bring many skilled workers with IT backgrounds to Canada, the majority of whom have gone on to enjoy a great deal of prosperity and success in virtually every Canadian province.”
At present, many there are many options for IT professionals seeking to practice in Canada. However, the programs can and do change with little to no prior warning. IT professionals would be well served to take advantage of the current state of Canadian immigration.
To find out if you are eligible for any of over 60 different programs, please fill out a free online assessment today.