Tech group wants new visa to allow skilled workers to enter Canada without a job offer

Posted on Apr 11, 2022 at 09:00 AM EST
Updated Apr 11, 2022 at 09:18AM EST

To help tackle labor shortages in the tech sector, the Council of Canadian Innovators is calling on the federal government to try a new visa that would allow highly skilled tech workers to come to Canada without a job offer.

CCI recently released its Talent and Skills Strategy, which makes 13 key recommendations for policy makers to support Canada’s growing technology industry.

The proposed visa, called the High-Potential Technology visa, targets in-demand professions such as software developers and data scientists. It will allow its holders to work, change jobs, and help them obtain Canadian permanent residence.

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In her report entitled Talent and skills strategyCCI notes that most people seeking work visas in Canada need a job offer to qualify. This requirement creates a barrier for highly skilled talent who wish to work in Canada. The report says that if software developers, data scientists and other professionals working in in-demand professions are allowed into Canada to look for work, they are likely to find it.

In addition, the pandemic has made remote work more common. As a result, CCI says the Canadian government should consult with the private sector to experiment with allowing highly skilled foreign workers to come to Canada for a set period of time without a job offer.

This proposal is loosely based on a proposed UK programme, which would allow software developers, engineers or data scientists to enter the country without a job offer.

The proposed technical visa will complement the existing global skills strategy, which aims to process work permit applications in less than two weeks for required jobs. However, CCI claims a 48-hour visa processing time for this programme.

“By creating a means for tech-skilled workers to come to Canada on their own initiative, the government can increase the available supply of skilled workers that can be employed by Canadian companies, without forcing companies to proactively go through the time-consuming bureaucratic process of sponsoring a foreign worker. Possibly,” the report states.

CCI also wants the government to offer a concierge service to help companies navigate the immigration system, thus facilitating the path to permanent residence through the Global Talent Stream – a work permit program that operates under the Global Skills Strategy and is available to certain employers and select in-demand tech careers.

Some of the CCI’s other recommendations related to talent acquisition included launching the Digital Nomad strategy to make Canada a destination for more remote workers, and reviewing National Occupation Classification (NOC) codes more regularly to better reflect the changing nature of tech jobs in Canada. They also want Canada to expand recognition of international and alternative credentials for Canadian visa applicants.

Two-week work permit processing for technical talent

Canada already offers some immigration and work permit options for tech workers. Among the many paths to obtaining permanent residence, Canada also offers Global Talent Stream (GTS), which allows some skilled workers to obtain a temporary work permit within two weeks of applying. It’s one of the corners Canada The Global Skills Strategy, which aims to help companies grow by ensuring they can quickly access the highly skilled talent they need.

The GTS allows employers to obtain a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) without the need for advertising. It is available to high-growth companies that can demonstrate the need to recruit unique specialized talent from abroad. Employers in this category must be referred to the Global Talent Stream by a designated referral partner.

GTS is also available to employers looking to hire skilled talent for in-demand occupations that are on the global talent job list.

Employers in both categories must meet the conditions for the payment of wages to skilled workers. Foreign workers hired through the GTS must be paid at the prevailing wage or higher. The prevailing wage is defined as the highest number of any of:

  • The average wage for an occupation in the Canadian government’s job bank;
  • Remuneration within the range that the employer pays to current employees in the same job at the same location, with the same skills and experience;
  • Minimum wage as specified in the Global Talent job listing (if applicable).

There are also some work permit waivers under the Global Talent Stream. Highly skilled workers in a Type 0 or A-level NOC skill may enter Canada to work for 15 days in a six-month period, or 30 days in a 12-month period without a work permit. Researchers working for publicly funded research institutions may come to Canada for 120 days per year without the need for a work permit.

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