US H-1B Visa Holders Can Apply For Canadian Work Permits Starting July 16, 2023

Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Sean Fraser, announced that H-1B users in the U.S. will be allowed to apply for a Canadian work permit. Additionally, the family members of these individuals will be able to seek work opportunities in the country. The applications will be available starting July 16, 2023.

The measure is part of Canada’s first-ever Tech Talent Strategy, which was announced at the Collision conference 2023 on June 27, 2023. As part of the strategy, Fraser announced the development of an Innovation Stream under the International Mobility Program to attract highly skilled individuals.

Under the new rules, those with H-1B visas will be allowed to acquire a work permit for up to three years for almost any employer anywhere in Canada. Additionally, their spouses and dependants will also be eligible to apply for a temporary resident visa, with a work or study permit. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced that the initiative will be on for one year or until they receive 10,000 applications.

According to a release, these measures were devised to promote Canada as a destination for “digital nomads.” “We’re enthusiastic about the ambitious goals we have set in immigration because they aren’t just about numbers—they are strategic. 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,” said Fraser, in a statement.

He added, “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.”

This new strategy includes new measures and improvements on existing measures to help businesses in Canada thrive in a competitive landscape. As part of Canada’s first-ever Tech Talent Strategy, Minister Fraser announced the following aggressive attraction measures:

  • the creation of an open work permit stream for H-1B specialty occupation visa holders in the US to apply for a Canadian work permit, and study or work permit options for their accompanying family members
  • the development of an Innovation Stream under to the International Mobility Program to attract highly talented individuals, options for which include
    • employer-specific work permits for up to five years for workers destined to work for a company identified by the Government of Canada as contributing to our industrial innovation goals
    • open work permits for up to five years for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.
  • a return to the 14-day service standard for work permits under the Global Skills Strategy
  • the promotion of Canada as a destination for digital nomads
  • the creation of a STEM-specific draw under category-based selection to issue additional invitations to apply under the Express Entry program
  • improvements to the Start-up Visa Program
    • We allocated more spots to this program for 2023, with further increases planned for 2024 and 2025.
    • Applicants will be able to apply for a work permit that is up to three years in duration instead of one year.
    • Applicants will be able to apply for an open work permit instead of one that limits them to working for their own start-up.
    • We’re making this three-year open work permit available to each member of the entrepreneurial team instead of only those who are essential and urgently needed in Canada.
    • We’re prioritizing applications that are supported by venture capital, angel investor groups and business incubators and have capital committed, along with applications that are supported by business incubators who are members of Canada’s Tech Network.

The Government of Canada is embracing Canada’s emerging role as a leader in global tech talent recruitment and attraction to ensure Canada is not only filling in-demand jobs today but also attracting the skills and business talent to create the jobs of tomorrow.

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