Waterloo Region immigration report outlines experiences and challenges faced by new arrivals
Every two years, the Waterloo Region conducts a survey of immigrants, refugees, international students, temporary workers, and their families to gain insight into their experiences settling into the Waterloo region after moving to Canada.
The survey provides a snapshot of the contributions newcomers make to the region, as well as the struggles and difficulties that they face and their suggestions on what can be improved.
This year, some 1,500 participants took part providing feedback. This includes new arrivals, as well as those who have been in Canada for up to five years.
Waterloo a top destination for tech talent
Waterloo is hub for startups and tech talent as the area boasts nearly 1,600 tech-related businesses. The Waterloo Region also has the highest concentration of the Information Technology and Analytical Instruments sector in Canada, based on population.
Over 90% of people surveyed reported choosing to settle in the Waterloo Region because they already had family and friends in the area. A high percentage also came because of the reputation of local post-secondary institutions and job offers.
Challenges and solutions
The study found that most newcomers who arrive in the region are more highly educated than the overall population of Waterloo. However, only 51% of respondents reported working in an occupation that required the same skill level or experience as their previous job. Some reported challenges finding employment and affordable housing while others cited making social connections was the biggest hurdle to settling.
Overall, half of respondents reported being quite satisfied with their lives and said they had a positive experience settling in the Waterloo Region. Still, they recommend more support in finding work as educating employers on the value of hiring, retaining and promoting newcomers to Canada.
Permanent residence pathways for tech workers
Candidates with tech backgrounds are the leading recipients of permanent residence invitations under Express Entry programs.
Express Entry is an application management system that can expediate applications for skilled workers. The most prominent Express Entry pathway is the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP). The FSWP is for candidates with at least one year of work experience that falls under National Occupational Codes (NOC) 0, A or B, as most tech sector jobs do.
Alternatively, candidates who have completed one year of work experience in Canada in the past three years may be eligible for Express Entry through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) program.
Express Entry is a two-step process:
- Candidates must self-assess if they are eligible for the program they wish to apply for.
- If they are eligible, they can create a profile on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) website. IRCC will then assign a Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score which is based on work experience, education, language abilities and other human capital factors. The higher a candidate scores, the more likely they are to receive an invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence.
IRCC holds draws approximately every two weeks. If a candidate receives an ITA, they have 60 days to submit their final application to IRCC. Once a permanent residence application is submitted, IRCC aims to have it processed within six months.
Changes to Express Entry may come in 2023
Under the current Express Entry system, tech jobs are the NOC’s that most often receive ITAs. IRCC has recently stated that in early 2023, it may begin to hold invitation draws based on work experience criteria rather than the CRS to ensure invitations are issued to those who can fill critical gaps in Canada’s labour market.
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program
Each Canadian province and territory, except for Quebec and Nunavut, has a provincial nominee program (PNP) through which provincial governments can select candidates for permanent residence that they feel will be the best fit in the provincial labour market. In 2022, Ontario will invite up to 9,700 new immigrants to province through the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program.
Some provincial nominations take place through the Ontario Tech Draw, which is an immigration pathway specifically for candidates with experience in the tech sector.
Ontario has a list of jobs with specific NOCs that are eligible for the tech draw if they also meet a baseline of language and education criteria
Temporary work permits for tech workers
Global Talent Stream
The Global Talent Stream (GTS) was created to facilitate the growth of Canada’s tech industry. For this work permit program, the government aims to achieve a processing standard of two weeks once the final application is submitted by the potential employee.
This pathway offers candidates a temporary work permit and can be used as a stepping stone to permanent residence for those who are eligible. GTS is part of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) and there are steps an employer must take before eligible to hire employees through a TFWP.
The first step is to obtain a neutral or positive Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). ESDC evaluates if hiring workers from outside Canada will have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on Canada’s labour market.
Employers must also meet the criteria in one of the following two categories:
Category A: This category is for companies that approach EDSC though a referral partner. Referral partners are typically governmental, local or government affiliated agencies or business that have a mandate to support local economies. The employees hired under this category are highly specialized in a specific part of the tech sector. If the candidate’s occupation is already on the Global Talent Occupations List, the employer must apply under category B.
Category B: This is for employers who require employees who are employed in occupations that are already on the Global Talent Occupations list, such as software engineers, designers, or information systems analysts.
These occupations are considered in-demand and the government has recognized a shortage of these skills in the Canadian labour force.
Tech talent from elsewhere in North America, may be eligible for the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). Like the GTS, it is a temporary work permit.
This agreement facilitates the movement of talent between the countries. The agreement is further broken down into two categories that are relevant to tech workers.
Professionals: There are 63 occupations that qualify for CUSMA under the professionals category. Prominent tech occupations such as systems analysts and software engineers may be eligible.
Intra-Company transfers (ICTs): ICTs occur when employees of multinational companies move to the company’s Canadian branch. The transferee is often someone in a management position or has other specialized knowledge.
Multinational companies eligible for ICT’s may not need to be based in Mexico or the United States. If any company worldwide has an established branch Canada, it may be possible for employees from other countries to transfer to Canada without an employer needing to obtain an LMIA.
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