Monday, June 17, 2024

New open work permit stream for H-1B visa holders to come to Canada

As part of Canada’s first-ever Tech Talent Strategy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Sean Fraser announced a number of “aggressive measures” which includes 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.

“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,” Fraser said. “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.”

The new H1-B specialty occupation visa holder work permit will be available as of July 16. 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 measure will remain in effect for one year, or until Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) receives 10,000 applications. Only principal applicants, and not their accompanying family members, will count toward the application cap.

Also on the cards is the development of an Innovation Stream under 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, and open work permits for up to five years for highly skilled workers in select in-demand occupations.

The Innovation Stream will be launched by the end of this year. Options being developed are informed by the feedback of stakeholders received throughout a number of consultations in recent months.

Fraser also announced a return to the 14-day service standard for work permits under the Global Skills Strategy and the promotion of Canada as a destination for digital nomads.

A STEM-specific draw will be created under category-based selection to issue additional invitations to apply under the Express Entry program, IRRC said in a statement.

Several improvements have also been made to the Start-up Visa Program including allocating more spots for this year, 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. They will also be able to apply for an open work permit instead of one that limits them to working for their own start-up.

IRCC is 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 IRCC statement added.

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