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Canada’s New Tech Talent Strategy at Collision 2023

On June 27, 2023, the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) introduced Canada’s first-ever Tech Talent Strategy at Collision 2023. This is a comprehensive strategy including different new initiatives and enhancements to existing measures. 

As part of the groundbreaking Tech Talent Strategy, Minister Fraser announced a series of proactive measures to attract talent, including:

  1. Introducing an open work permit pathway for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the United States. 
    1. This pathway allows them to apply for Canadian work permits, meaning that they will have the flexibility to work for any employer across Canada.
    2. Study permit or work permit options will be made available for their accompanying family members.
    3. Upon approval, successful applicants will receive an open work permit that is valid for a maximum duration of 3 years.
    4. The work permit opportunity will be introduced for H1-B specialty occupation visa holders from July 16, 2023. 
    5. This measure will be effective for 1 year or until the total number of applications reaches 10,000, whichever comes first. The application cap will only consider principal applicants and not their accompanying family members.
  2. Establishing an Innovation Stream within the International Mobility Program to attract highly skilled individuals. This Stream will be effective at the end of 2023. Noteworthy options under this stream include:
    1. Employer-specific work permits for a duration of up to 5 years, targeting workers destined to contribute to Canada’s industrial innovation objectives as identified by the government.
    2. Open work permits for highly skilled workers in select high-demand occupations, valid for up to 5 years.
  3. Restoring the 14-day services standard for work permits under the Global Skills Category.
  4. Promoting Canada as an appealing destination for digital nomads.
  5. Introducing a STEM-specific draw as part of the category-based selection process to issue additional invitations to apply under the Express Entry program.
  6. Enhancements to the Start-Up Visa program, including:
    1. Increased program spots for 2023, with further expansion planned for 2024 and 2025.
    2. Extending the work permit duration from 1 year to 3 years for applicants.
    3. Providing open work permits instead of limiting applicants to working for their own start-up.
    4. Extending the 3-year open work permit to all members of the entrepreneurial team, not just those deemed essential or urgently required in Canada.
    5. Prioritizing applications supported by venture capital, angel investor groups, business incubators, and members of Canada’s Tech Network.

By embracing Canada’s emerging role as a global leader in tech talent recruitment and attraction, the Government of Canada aims to ensure the country not only fulfills the current demand for skilled workers, but also attracts the expertise and entrepreneurial talent necessary to create future employment opportunities. 

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