Three pathways to a work permit for IT professionals coming to Canada

Vimal Sivakumar
Published: December 15, 2023

The importance of a strong technology sector as it relates to Canada’s economy and development cannot be understated.

The technology sector in this country is vital to Canada’s ability to foster innovation, pursue growth in the future and develop as a country. For that reason, tech talent from all over the world is in significant demand across Canada.

This demand is evident in many ways, none clearer than the introduction of category-based draws under Express Entry for skilled workers with recent work experience in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions. More on Express Entry category-based draws can be found here.

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To aid in addressing this nationwide demand for technology-sector workers, there are many work permit options available for individuals working in Information Technology (IT) professions. Three examples of these work permit options include the Global Talent Stream (GTS), CUSMA (Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement) Professionals and Intra-Company Transfers (ICT).

Global Talent Stream

The Global Talent Stream (GTS) is a designated immigration pathway for helping Canadian employers hire foreign tech talent.

Through the GTS, certain employers – either those referred to the stream or those hiring for specific roles – can fast-track the hiring of foreign skilled workers that can aid their company’s growth in a manner that allows successful applicants to begin work around two weeks from the date they submit their application.

This is accomplished through the expedited processing of work permit applications and temporary resident visas (TRVs) through the GTS.

Due to the growing need for tech industry talent around Canada, this program could be particularly beneficial for foreign nationals looking to the Canadian IT sector, as many of the qualifying tech occupations under the GTS include professions such as software engineers and designers, computer programmers, information system analysts and computer/information system managers.

Note: GTS-eligible employers looking to hire IT professionals may qualify for an expedited Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The purpose of an LMIA is to verify that the hiring of a foreign national by a Canadian company will not have a negative impact on this country’s job market.

CUSMA Professionals

Under CUSMA, certain U.S. and Mexican nationals can obtain Canadian work permits without an LMIA, allowing qualified foreign nationals from these countries to work in Canada (in IT) faster than they would otherwise be able to.

Workers in approximately 60 professions qualify for a CUSMA Professional Work Permit through this North American agreement. Many of the professions eligible for this particular permit under CUSMA fall within the IT sector. Examples include computer systems analysts, graphic designers, technical publications writers and computer engineers.

Intra-Company Transfers

Intra-Company Transfers (ICT) are foreign nationals who can obtain a Canadian work permit without an LMIA. This is possible if the foreign national has been employed with a company abroad for at least one year and will be coming to Canada with the intention of working for their organization’s Canadian subsidiary, affiliate, parent or branch.

Among the three categories under which a foreign national can be eligible for an ICT work permit, one is designated specifically for persons who have “specialized and proprietary knowledge of the company or its products.” This is the category that typically allows IT professionals to be eligible for an ICT work permit.

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