Canada to give 3-year open work permit to US H1B Visa holders under its Tech Talent drive

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Government of Canada has announced a series of new measures and improvements to attract highly skilled workforce. Under the new announcements:

  • As of July 16, 2023, H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US, and their accompanying immediate family members, will be eligible to apply to come to Canada.
  • The study authorization has also been extended for work permit holders. Foreign workers can now study for more than 6 months program without applying for separate study permit
  • Under category-based selection, candidates with STEM and health workers will be invited to work and live in Canada

OTTAWA, ON: Canada’s recent announcements under its Tech Talent Strategy have finally brought a whiff of fresh air for those stuck in US Green Card and Visa gridlock.

In the past one week, Canada Immigration minister Sean Fraser has announced various measures to attract talented workforce in Canada’s economy and the biggest being issue of open work permit for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US.

As of July 16, 2023, H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US, and their accompanying immediate family members, will be eligible to apply to come to Canada.

He made the announcement while launching Canada’s first-ever Tech Talent Strategy at Collision 2023, one of the world’s biggest tech conferences organized in Toronto.

“With Canada’s first-ever immigration Tech Talent Strategy, we’re targeting newcomers that can help enshrine Canada as a world leader in a variety of emerging technologies. I’m grateful for the collaboration of the tech, start-up and business communities, who have provided valuable insight to develop this strategy. Having a fast and flexible approach, one that is broadly supported by Canadians, is truly Canada’s immigration advantage,” said Minister Fraser.

He informed that approved applicants will receive an open work permit of up to three years in duration, which means they will be able to work for almost any employer anywhere in Canada. Their spouses and dependants will also be eligible to apply for a temporary resident visa, with a work or study permit, as needed.

This will expand the opportunities available for skilled workers to continue to pursue their careers in the high-tech sector and contribute to economic growth and prosperity in North America.

This measure will remain in effect for one year, or until IRCC receives 10,000 applications. Only principal applicants, and not their accompanying family members, will count toward the application cap.

Canada will also be developing a new Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program to attract highly talented individuals. It will let employers hire foreign workers without a labour market impact assessment (LMIA). This will be introduced later this year.

Digital nomads working remotely for an employer outside of Canada will also be able live and work here for up to 6 months at a time. They don’t need a work permit. All they need is visitor status.

The minister also announced a new temporary measure that removes the limit on the length of the study programs that temporary foreign workers can enrol in without a study permit.

Starting immediately, foreign workers will have the opportunity to seek additional training and education that can help them in their careers. This measure will also help foreign workers expand their future job prospects and increase their opportunities to transition to permanent residence. Prior to this change, foreign workers could study while working, but only in programs of 6 months or less. For longer programs, they had to apply for a separate study permit. This has been a barrier for those who wish to improve their education and receive more training, including those needing to upskill or validate their foreign credentials through certain programs.

With this new 3-year temporary measure, foreign workers can study full time or part time while their work permits are valid or until the expiration of the policy, with no restrictions on the length of the program.

This temporary measure applies to those who hold a valid work permit or who have submitted an application to renew their work permit on or before June 7, 2023, and are authorized to work. If a foreign worker wishes to study longer than the duration of their work permit, they still need to apply for a study permit.

New changes to Canada’s flagship economic immigration program, Express Entry were announced last month under which the Government of Canada can issue invitations to apply for permanent residency in Canada to candidates from particular fields or with specific skills, training or language ability.

Fraser announced a dedicated round of invitations to be sent to health workers and STEM professionals.

Candidates with STEM expertise – including data scientists, software developers and programmers, mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries, and electrical and electronics engineers – will help Canada’s science and technology sector, bringing in the skilled talent that businesses need to drive innovation and achieve their growth potential.

Candidates with health care expertise including doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists and optometrists will be invited in first round. The first round for category-based selection will invite 500 health workers to apply. A second round, inviting 1,500 workers to apply, will take place on July 5. This phased approach will ensure the smooth launch of the program.

and by bringing in the talent the country needs, this measure will help improve access to