More tech immigrants choosing Canada over U.S.

Mohanad Moetaz
Published: August 6, 2020

In light of U.S. restrictions on immigration more and more immigrant tech workers are considering pivoting north to Canada.

In June, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended immigration for certain visa holders. The White House argues that the move was to help American workers gain employment after many were laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The suspension also includes H1-B visas. These visas were issued to highly skilled foreign professionals, including the likes of Elon Musk, CEO of both Tesla and Space X.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

North of the border, Canada has been welcoming tech workers with open arms. In fact, Canada has welcomed tens of thousands of foreign tech workers in the last three years alone.

A staggering 40 per cent of workers in the tech sector are immigrants, according to Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council report. To put that into perspective, immigrants make up 25 per cent of Canada’s overall workforce.

Tobias Lutke, CEO of Canadian e-commerce behemoth Shopify urged skilled talent who are currently prevented from working in the U.S., to consider Canada.

Lutke, himself an immigrant from Germany, helped build Shopify into the billion-dollar corporation it is today.

American companies may also decide to set up shop in Canada to benefit from the influx of talented professionals from abroad.

I’ve decided to move to Canada. What are my options?

Canada introduced the Global Talent Stream (GTS) three years ago and has since contributed to over 40,000 people coming to Canada to work in many tech positions, such as web designers and software engineers.

So how does the GTS fair against its American counterpart, the H1-B visa? It’s quicker. In fact the GTS allows skilled workers to obtain a work permit in just one month.

In addition to the GTS, there are plenty of other options to immigrate to Canada as a tech worker.

Some provinces, including British Columbia and Ontario, hold periodic tech draws to help the tech sector attract and retain highly skilled workers. Though immigration is chiefly managed by the federal government, provinces and territories are able to nominate candidates for immigration based on their regional needs. These Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) provide pathways to permanent residence for people who have the right skills and experience to support the economic and labour market goals of the province or territory.

How the Global Talent Stream works

For a Canadian employer to recruit highly skilled talent through the Global Talent Stream, the employer must be eligible through one of two categories.

Category A requires the employer to be referred by a designated referral partner. If the employer is in Quebec, the referral must come from a Quebec partner.

In addition, the candidate must have advanced knowledge of the industry, have an advanced degree in a related field, have five years of experience in the field, and must be offered at least $80,000 annual base salary, or higher, depending on the occupation’s prevailing wage.

Under Category B, the salary also depends on the occupation’s prevailing wage. Also, the employer must be hiring for one of twelve occupations.

How the BC PNP Tech Pilot works

The British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program (BC PNP) Tech Pilot requires candidates to have a job offer in one of 29 eligible occupations. Interested candidates are required to register through the Skills Immigration Registration System (SIRS).

B.C. periodically holds tech draws to invite the highest-scoring skilled tech worker to apply for provincial nomination. Those who are invited then have 30 days to submit their application.

If a candidate is approved, he or she can then use their provincial nomination to apply for permanent residence.

At this point, the candidate is practically guaranteed to be approved for permanent residence.

How Ontario Tech Draws work

Candidates who are eligible for federal programs such as the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) are able to create an Express Entry profile.

Express Entry is the system used by the federal government to manage permanent residence applications.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) identifies eligible candidates already in the Express Entry pool. When a candidate is identified, he or she will receive a Notification of Interest (NOI).

Upon receiving an NOI, a candidate must apply for provincial nomination under the Human Capital Priorities Stream within 45 days.

If approved, a candidate will receive provincial nomination, and can use the nomination to apply for permanent residence through Express Entry.

Canada emerging as a tech superpower

Canada is on its way to becoming a leader in technology and innovation. Its welcoming immigration policy provides a leeway to become the tech superpower it can be.

Many highly skilled tech workers, start-ups and established corporations are now considering Canada as a more favourable option thanks to pathways to permanent residence for tech workers.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved

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