What US Tech Workers Need to Know About Immigrating to Canada
Vancouver has always been a top relocation destination for IT workers living in the US. With the pandemic and politics south of the border, immigrating to Canada is even more appealing.
And with Canadian companies needing a steady stream of skilled foreign workers, like IT professionals from the US, to fulfill demands, the federal and provincial governments currently are prioritizing immigration programs during the pandemic.
Below are immigration options for US and other foreign citizens to work in Canada, whether temporarily or permanently. The options have different application requirements and processes, but IT workers interested in moving to Canada should generally expect to:
- Research and fully understand various options to determine the best fit for your situation (such as, a Canadian employer wants to bring you into the country or you do not have a specific job, but know that your IT skills are needed, or your family already lives in Canada and can sponsor you as a permanent resident)
- Complete online eligibility assessments
- Apply for invitation to apply (if required)
- If invited to apply, begin the application process. If not invited, determine how to improve your score
- Apply online or via paper, including completing multiple forms, collecting documents, requesting necessary records and paying fees
- Wait for a response, which could be approval, questions or decline
Eligible Canadian employers can participate in the Global Talent Stream. The federal program allows companies to bring in highly skilled foreign workers who receive a temporary visa to work in Canada for a specific job/position with the employer.
Unlike Express Entry below, the Canadian employer is the primary contact with the Canadian government and responsible for initiating and submitting the application. Only employers with high-demand occupations and foreign individuals with “unique and specialized talent” are eligible.
The good news for IT workers is that over 40,000 tech workers have immigrated to Canada through Global Talent Stream in the past two years. Many IT occupations (such as software engineers, information systems managers and web designers and developers) are eligible, and the processing time to get a VISA is about a month (though the pandemic may cause delays).
Not all Canadian companies are aware of the Global Talent Stream, so be sure to ask a potential employer.
Express Entry is the primary program that tech workers use when moving to Canada as a permanent resident. Express Entry is the umbrella name for three economic immigration programs, with the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) programs most appropriate to IT workers.
Depending on your qualifications, you may be eligible to apply to one or all of the programs. Applicants first answer a series of online questions to determine their eligibility and request an invitation to apply for permanent residence. Candidates who rank high on the eligibility score can have their permanent resident application potentially processed within six months.
Another option for applying for a work visa is through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP), comprised of three programs:
Like other provinces, British Columbia can nominate eligible immigrants through these programs depending on BC’s employment needs. As of December 2020, the estimated processing time of an application is two to three months.
Please know that immigration information changes frequently and often significantly due to COVID. For the latest information, visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the Canadian government’s official portal to eligibility requirements, application process and the latest developments.
This post is not legal advice and is not regularly updated. We encourage you to seek legal counsel to discuss your specific situation.
Since 2010, SIGnature Recruiting has operated with respect towards all of our candidates and clients, making us the preferred IT recruitment agency in the Greater Vancouver area. If you are seeking talent or an employer, let’s talk.
Written by: Rupinder Gill